Minerva make: bow neck shirt dress truly awesome …
So let me tell you where I started with this month’s Minerva Blogger network make. I started for a change with the pattern. Usually I start with the fabric & then match to the pattern, but this time it was different. Vogue 8829 is a pattern I’ve had for about a year, and always bring out to swoon over. This folks is a shirt dress with sophistication & elegance.
Whilst it provides quite a few design options in terms of skirt shape, length, sleeve length & even collar style for me it was always going to be knee length pussy bow with sleeves (long or short). It was also always going to be a dress I made in a solid colour- I could not imagine it in a print (except polka dots) , and that is why I have never made it until now – most of my stash & fabric buying tends to be ruled by prints you see. So making my Minerva wish list up started with selecting this pattern & choosing suitable fabric from there.
With my Minerva makes I try to extend my sewing skills & try something new. I aim to develop my sewing skills & experience as it could be that if it scares me it might scare others, & if I can breathe in & take the plunge, it’ll encourage others to try as well.
This month’s personal challenge was to sew with fabric that was expensive (to me). Being someone who is always attracted by discounts & bargains I almost have subconscious guidelines on how far my purchasing power extends, as one of the reasons I sew is to have an array of unique clothing that is not only very personal, but does not cost me the earth. I am at heart a cheapskate. This means that any quality “expensive” fabric that I do buy tends to lay wrapped up in tissue paper in a drawer until I can pluck up the courage to slice into it with my shears. Therefore, choosing some absolutely incredible “designer” crepe as my November supplies forced me to be brave, to put my teddy bear to one side, take my thumb out of my mouth & lavish reverence, care & extreme attention on this most stately fabric. I hoped this crepe would make a winter dress for work that would be easy to care for, but never having worked with crepe before, I did not really know if it would be true! But folks, in reality this fabric is not as expensive as buying a ready to wear dress – remember that. This fabric costs £11.99 per metre and is 150cm wide. This dress takes 2 m – it really is not expensive!
So this fabric is amazing folks. It is definitely a mid weight autumn/ winter dress fabric. Apart from its wonderful touch (feel the quality) & drape, it has two very distinct finishes. It could be described as “self lined” for those who want to wear it with matt side out, shiny side in. But then you might want to wear it shiny side out, in which case the inside would be matt. However, even though the pattern envelope of my chosen dress showcased a dress in shiny fabric, I knew that would not be my look of choice. Matt side out was my intention from the outset.
So away I went. Once I had sewn a toile of the bodice. I wasn’t going to plough through my crepe with an as yet untested pattern! The bodice fit fine (apart from a vertical pinch I took out from shoulder to chest) & in fact has quite enough ease. It all seemed to be hitting the right spots, so then I wielded the shears & went past the point of no return. It helped that I had a deadline to make this for. No room for dithering! I set to & made this dress up in a day. I cut out style A but with the narrow skirt – but you can see that it is not a tight narrow skirt, more of an A line with soft pleats (more of those later).
Oh folks, this was a dream to sew. I really enjoyed the challenge of sewing with more expensive fabric. Not to say that I am slapdash, but my usual need for speed when making things had to be tempered with giving this make the respect both pattern & fabric deserved. As a result I found I raised my game with most of my manoeuvres executed with precision & when I did make the odd mistake, I did not allow fudges, but took it back & did it again.
But I don’t think there were many mistakes, just the odd bit of topstitching that had veered off line. I found all of the instructions were clear & easy to follow & loved the construction of the dress with big soft pleats at the yoke to create a blouson effect as well as big soft pleats in the skirt. It seemed odd sewing the hemline before the dress was finished as that is usually the last thing I do, however, when it’s a style with a button band, the button band has to be attached with hem complete. I think the trickiest sewing though, was attaching the tie collar when the size of the collar to neckline needed gentle easing to accommodate the slightly larger neck edge.
OK, so that’s all I have to say about the sewing and the fabric. What about design options? This fabric gives you a new dimension which did not occur to me until I was well on the way. With its matt/ shiny contrast think about how you can make use of this. My choices were quite conservative opting to keep the dress matt with a shiny lining. In this case I reversed the yoke lining so that its shiny side was out (you’d normally sew the inside yoke lining right side out), this made all of the lining shiny.
When I was sewing the neck tie it occurred to me that there were lots of areas that I could have played around with the play between matt/ shiny sides. Eg shiny cuffs, button band and neck tie. That felt too flash for me though, as this is going to be a work dress. I just made use of the shiny contrast in its self cover buttons, which I like a lot.
So I’ve worn this to work now & it is just the dress & more. In fact it has exceeded my expectations as I think it doesn’t have to be solely an office dress as I was intending. Worn with the right footwear you can get different looks, not just smart workwear. Its fit is casual & blouson-ish which makes it feel fun to wear. And I love the bow neck! Swoon. Should you want to give it a go, Minerva’s kit contains 2m of fabric, matching thread and self cover buttons. This dress though has plenty of room to wear long vests, t-shirts etc underneath if extra warmth is required without compromising its style by trying to get the right cardi. Perfecto!! I am imagining how lush this style would look in a check flannel now…