Category Archives: Minerva Blogging Network

Minerva meetup & my Tarzan Vogue 1289

Minerva meetup

I’ve held off from blogging more about the big Minerva Crafts meetup weekend – it was two weeks ago now, but it’s my time now to reveal my party dress so I can share my other photos too. As I’m sure you can imagine with so many sewists (and fabric) around, it was a riot of fun.

Minerva meetup

The day event was held at Minerva HQ. It was a treat to browse all their fabrics in person and even more so to catch up with all the bloggers and some local sewists too. Obviously I didn’t come home empty-handed: I picked up some grey slubby viscose jersey (I think it’s this one), a beautiful soft and stretchy mid blue denim, and some amazing PU-coated black jersey which I’m going to use for a skater skirt and maybe some slouchy trousers.

Minerva meetup
Minerva meetup

In the evening we had a fabulous meal at Blackburn Rovers FC(!) followed by dancing away til gone 2. A bunch of sleepy but happy Spoolettes trundled back to London on the train the next day. (Somehow Nicole and I found the energy to make a quick detour to Abakhan in Manchester for MORE fabric. Carrying it home was my penance.)

Minerva meetup

So here’s my dress for the evening do, in the glamorous location of the Premier Inn car park. Gosh, I look really short as well. Really should have gone for height over comfort in my footwear.

Minerva meetup

Trying a Rachel signature pose in her absence – hmm no, doesn’t really help.

Vogue 1289

Meaty construction details ahead… As I mentioned, after the fail of my first project I thought carefully about the kind of dress I’d usually pick to wear to such an event, which led me to Vogue 1289, a Pamella Roland design from 2012. It was a bit risky going into slightly unchartered territory as I’d only made one Vogue pattern before and could only find one other version of this dress on the internet. But I was pretty sure that the style and silhouette would work on me and I picked quite a forgiving fabric to work with, so luckily the gamble paid off.

Vogue 1289

And the fabric, ah, this is what I’d call a hidden Minerva gem. A crepe satin with slight stretch and a slinky abstract print in my favourite sludgy colours. And get this – it’s £2.39 a metre! (I’m slightly tickled that the pattern and thread for this dress cost way more than the fabric itself.) I’m buying up some more before it all goes – it comes in a couple of other great neutral colourways too. I call this my Tarzan dress because in retrospect the dappled green print together with the draped shoulder gave off that vibe – grey might have been a more subdued choice. It was really great to work with, with that typical grippiness that comes with a crepe weave so despite looking slinky it’s not too slippery.

Vogue 1289

The most time consuming part of this pattern is definitely the cutting and marking stage. There are 13 pieces to cut and all those pleat placements to carefully transfer. I cut the lining from self fabric too so made sure to carefully label all my pieces so I didn’t get mixed up. I didn’t have time to toile (risky!) but did a lot of basting and trying on throughout construction to check that the drape and fit were working out ok. It’s not a difficult dress to sew overall and the instructions are excellent.

Vogue 1289

The drafting is pretty amazing as well. The front bodice lining pieces have princess-seamed ‘cups’ over which the bias-cut outer fabric loosely flows. This gives a bit of interior support (meaning I could go braless) while not ruining the fluidity from the outside: a very clever element I have not seen before The skirt – cut in one single wide piece – has deep pleats in the opposite direction to the bodice, giving a lovely flattering drape across the hips. Luckily I didn’t have to make many fitting adjustments as I went along, just 1″ off the bodice length plus taking some length off the skinny strap. The pattern recommends you fully interface all the bodice lining pieces, but I wanted a softer drapier effect so left it off.

Vogue 1289

I did a blind hem on both the skirt and lining – the pattern recommends a baby rolled hem, but I didn’t want to come unstuck at the last hurdle so used a technique I know I can do well! I used a matching green silk thread which completely disappears into the print. I gave the hem an extra spritz of spray starch when pressing it to get a nice crisp edge. I only realised later that I’ve hemmed it inside-out – my brain was obviously shutting down by this point.

Vogue 1289

Because of the fabric’s stretch I was able to leave out the back zip completely – I breathed a big sigh of relief when I realised this because fitting the zip is where this type of project always goes awry for me. As you can see I didn’t try any clever pattern matching or placement at all, which I think is fine in such a random print – except I really wish I’d placed the front bodice with the pattern falling inwards, ie in the same direction as the pleats instead of diagonally across them. That’s driving me a bit crazy, and I didn’t have enough fabric left to re-cut it.

Overall though, I was really happy with how this dress turned out. It was really fun to step up to the challenge of making it and I’m glad I had such a great occasion (with such fun company) to wear it to. Be sure to check out everyone else’s dresses on the Minerva blog.

Peek at my Minerva party frock

Today I’m sharing a peek at the making of a dress for a special occasion: the Minerva Crafts meetup this weekend. As you’ve probably noticed by now (I’m one of the last!) all of us Minerva bloggers are showing a preview of our dresses before the big meetup party on Saturday night, and will share the finished frocks after this weekend. You can see the other bloggers’ previews here – I can’t wait to see them all in person.

My dress went through a ton of twists and turns before ending up nothing like I planned – in fact it’s not same project as I originally picked at all – but I’ve ended up with something that I REALLY love and can’t wait to show off.

Sooo, I won’t dwell too much on my first failed dress as the pain is still raw: it was supposed to be Simplicity 1876 in a really lovely satin-backed dupion, but everything that could do wrong, did. I really fancied the challenge of all the new techniques – boning, strapless, peplum skirts – but several ill-fitting toiles and an abandoned half-finished garment later, I decided it was a step too far, especially with the time pressure added in. Plus, I realised I would never go for a flouncy, fitted style like that in RTW so even if I’d nailed the construction I don’t think I would have felt comfortable in it. Sadly, it was what we term a ‘wadder’.

In a bit of a panic, I emailed Vicki from Minerva to say I was ordering a brand new kit and could she rush it through – it showed up the very next day leaving me plenty of time to sew my next dress. I’d picked two new fabrics just in case I didn’t like one in person, but they both turned out to be gorgeous so I wavered for a while on which to use. In the end I went for the cheaper one just in case I needed to call it a toile and use the reserve fabric as well – but I ended up loving it just as it was!

dressinspo

While I really needed this second try to work out for me, I still wanted a challenge and something that would look impressive at the party. So I went for something that was at the far bounds of my comfort zone, but much more ‘me’ style- and silhouette-wise. Here’s a little mood board I put together based on some lovely frocks from ASOS (I’m especially obsessed with that Markus Lupfer one; memo to self to make a rub-off). I find looking at RTW clothing online a really useful way to help me decide what to sew: if I wouldn’t buy a certain style or print in RTW I know that a similar sewing project will likely not get much wear either. From my mood board I noticed several key style elements cropping up – neckline asymmetry, directional draping/pleats, waistline blousiness, digital prints – and tried to base my project on similar elements.

Juuust some little peeks at my finished dress for now! Luckily the construction went really smoothly this time. This pattern I chose is ingeniously drafted and it was incredibly fun to sew. And the fabric is just gorgeous and brilliant to work with! I’ll share a bit more about all the making process in my next post.

Perhaps you can do some detective work to figure out which Minerva fabric and Big 4 pattern I ended up using. Hint: here’s Angelina Jolie in a very similar style by the same designer…

So, I do have something to go to the ball in, even if it isn’t at all what I originally had in mind. Check back after this weekend for the reveal of the finished dress, and if you’re coming to the meetup I can’t wait to see you there. I’m so excited to shop the Minerva fabric cave in person, it’s going to be a blast.

Minerva Network: Vogue 1247

Vogue 1247

For this month’s Minerva make I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit, both in terms of construction and style. I went for a Vogue 1247 blouse in an unusual polyester fabric.

Vogue 1247

The fabric has the look to me of sandwashed silk: it’s dull and slightly rough, but catches the light in a very pretty way. It also reminds me a bit of a soft chambray denim. As well as being interesting to look at, it was easy to sew and feels light and comfy to wear. It’s tricky to iron (and needs a press cloth as it marks) but I think it works with a slightly rumpled finish. It was a devil trying to press out all the origami-style French seams in this top, though! Looking at these photos, it definitely needed one more good press along the front.

Vogue 1247

Otherwise I think it was a good match for this Vogue pattern, which has been on my to-sew list for a while. It’s not what I would consider my usual style (in that it isn’t a knit t-shirt, ha ha), but I love the unusual style lines: the kimono sleeves ending in a rolled-back cuff, the curved hem, front and back shoulder pleats, the centre-front darts and panelled bottom half giving a star-shaped seam effect to the front.

Vogue 1247

It was pretty fun to put together: it all slots together like a jigsaw and the directions include useful extras like where to French seam and how to finish the curved hems. Despite looking complex, I finished it in one afternoon sewing session. I’m generally not a big fan of sewing a bunch of darts and pleats, but I really like the effect they give this blouse so I think it’s worth it from time to time. As you can see, my front seams could be sharper and better lined-up, but I found it tricky to counter the bulk of the French seams with getting crisp points. I think a lighter fabric would make it easier.

Vogue 1247

I didn’t toile, just went a size down as it’s marked as ‘very oversized’. Luckily the fit turned out pretty good: I just opted to add little side vents as it was a bit snug over my hips. Next time I would probably go down a size at the shoulders/bust and up one at the hips. I’d quite like to try this top again in something lighter too; perhaps a floral lawn or viscose for spring. The pattern also includes a cute basic skirt, which I’m looking forward to whipping up soon in some leftover denim. As ever, you can buy the kit for this make on Minerva here.

Minerva Network: Peacock Archer

Peacock Archer

Phew, finally a non-jersey and non-stashbust make! For this month’s Minerva project, I picked a beautiful peacock-feather printed navy satin to make my first Grainline Archer shirt. (Weirdly my next three upcoming Minerva makes are all varying shades of blue, but unlike the last three months this is the only patterned one.) This satin has a lovely sheen and handle but sewing with it was a new challenge, especially for a shirt. It’s super slippery and slid off-grain at any oppurtunity. Luckily I’d read a tip to cut such fabrics through a layer of tissue paper or newspaper, and this made it much more manageable. I also used thin silk pins to avoid marking the delicate fabric. The pieces were much easier to deal with once interfaced, and a liberal helping of Aqua Glue was my saviour whilst sewing the button placket and collar.

Peacock Archer

The Archer pattern itself was a breeze. It probably helped that I’ve made two shirts for Josh already so the construction steps were very familiar to me. I also cut some big corners by leaving off the pockets and sleeve plackets/cuffs; I just couldn’t imagine getting them remotely accurate in the satin without having a nervous breakdown.

Peacock Archer

Instead I went for an above-elbow length sleeve with a deep cuff to try and mimic the look of the sleeves being rolled-up (how I always wear a long-sleeved shirt anyway). I like how this gives the silky shirt a more laid-back look – almost like that dressy-pyjama trend of last year – and it’s easier to layer up with a cardigan which is pretty essential in February. I tried to do that two-by-two button effect but my spacing’s a bit off, they just look a bit uneven.

Peacock Archer

The size I picked was pretty perfect out of the box and I love the dipped back hem: I want to try the ruffled variation sometime too. I’m glad I persevered with the fabric as I love the final shirt and it’s seen a few wears already.

As ever, you can buy the kit for this make – containing fabric, thread, buttons and interfacing – for just £18 from Minerva here.

Minerva Network: Houndstooth X-shape dress

Houndstooth knit dress

Finally it’s time to share my first make for the Minerva Blogger Network! I finished it a little while ago but had to keep it quiet until my place in the schedule. You can pop over to Minerva’s site to see my blog there and buy the kit to make your own, or read on for details of the pattern and fabric…

Houndstooth knit dress

The pattern is Burda 7034: X-shape dress. I suppose it’s called that because it’s well fitted at the waist and then kicks dramatically out, with a strong shoulder too. The pattern also features a peplum blouse option but I can’t imagine it flattering many people, especially in shiny purple satin (Quality Street, anyone?). I looked past the pattern envelope’s taffeta Tin Man stylings of the main dress too: I know we’re starting to get into the festive season, but that’s no excuse to dress like a bauble.

Houndstooth knit dress

The fabric I chose is a gorgeous grey and black dogtooth/houndstooth ponte knit. This fabric is so nice to work with and wear: it cuts cleanly with no distorting or fraying, sews without puckering, holds the pleats of this pattern crisply yet feels comfy like a sweater. I kind of love it, in case you couldn’t tell. Even the back side is pretty, with a dark grey marl kind of effect, which I managed to show off a little in my version of the dress.

Houndstooth knit dress

The pattern is really nicely drafted and a quick, fun to sew. I must say, I like Burda printed patterns much more than the print-at-home ones as the instructions are so much better. The fit across the bodice, back and sleeves was pretty spot on with no adjustments, so I’ll certainly be using this pattern as a basis for some variations. I cut the size slightly under my measurements as I was working with a stretch, and it’s still got maybe an inch of ease at the waist.

Houndstooth knit dress

The skirt is really full thanks to very deep box pleats. I couldn’t believe how wide the pattern pieces were while cutting them! It creates lovely movement in the skirt.

Houndstooth knit dress
Houndstooth knit dress
Houndstooth knit dress
There are three-quarter and bracelet length sleeve options – I kept mine long but plan to wear them rolled back. Nice to have the option if my wrists get chilly, though. On the neckline I cut a little more of a scoop and used Megan Nielsen’s binding technique to finish it with the reverse of the fabric out. I think the dashes of dark grey help to offset all the loud print.

Houndstooth knit dress

The pattern calls for an invisible zip but I used a chunky exposed one – Minerva sells these too. I didn’t really need one at all due to the stretch in my fabric but I like the effect.

Houndstooth knit dress

More details: It’s got side seam pockets which are stitched down along the waistband so sit nice and flat under the pleats. The sleeve has an elbow dart which I’ve never seen before. I suppose it’s more useful with a stiff fabric like taffeta, I can’t particularly see the benefit in my knit fabric. The bodice is supposed to be lined but it wasn’t necessary with my fabric choice. I shortened the skirt by, er, a lot – almost a foot? I prefer a shorter skirt with tights and I didn’t want the houndstooth to be too jarring over a large area. I did a machine blind hem like usual, which seems to help the pleats lay flat all the way down.

11

Well, gotta say I’m pretty pleased with my first make for Minerva and I think this pattern and fabric are a good match, making for a cosy but on-trend winter day dress. If you fancy having a go you can pick up the kit on Minerva here. Hope you like it too!