Quick thanks first for all the lovely comments on my Anna! I’m so proud of it and reading your encouraging comments only make me want to continue doing better and better with my sewing :)
Here’s my Minerva make for this month. It’s a (slightly modified) Tessuti Pia sundress, using this luscious batik print cotton lawn. I actually made this quite a while ago and even wore it to the Minerva meetup day back in June! It’s a bit different in style to what I usually go for (I mean apart from all my obvious usual hallmarks: abstract print, blue/black colours, pockets…) but I’ve been wearing it a lot in this sunny London weather.
It’s the first Tessuti pattern I’ve made and I’m afraid it gave me a bit of grief, mostly down to the PDF itself. It is SIXTY NINE pages long (!) so very intensive on paper and ink. I literally had to print it out in chunks over a few days to make it seem less daunting, then felt like apologising to some trees. The main reason is that the pieces aren’t nested, ie the XS/S are laid out separately to M/L/XL, which would be fine if that was noted somewhere so you could selectively print only the size you wanted, but all but impossible to deduce before printing them all out. I ended up recycling at least twenty unused sheets which is pretty unacceptable. There are also a bunch of pieces which have to be cut out of something called Vilene Shield (used to temporarily stabilise the arm and neck edges for finishing, I think). I’ve never heard of it so didn’t use any of those pieces either.
Luckily after the nightmare of printing and assembly the dress was simple to put together. The instructions are good and each step is clearly photographed. I especially liked how the instructions show where and how to finish raw edges with an overlocker as you go – so often that is missed out. The front pockets are constructed so the inner pocket is smaller than the outer, causing them to droop open in quite a pleasing way. I think this would be even more effective in a slightly drapier fabric than this crisp lawn.
As I mentioned, I didn’t use the Vilene method to finish the neckline and armsyces but instead drafted a simple all-in-one facing which was burrito’d and topstitched. Another example of deviating from instructions and swapping out finishes and techniques to suit my own preferences.
I cut the smallest size because it’s designed oversized, and made quite a lot of fitting adjustments directly to the paper pattern. I took about 4″ off the bodice length and at least 10″ off the skirt because looking at other versions of this dress I figured a higher waistline and shorter length would be better on me. Halfway through making it I was still convinced it would look awful on me, but actually I really like it – it’s different to my usual silhouette but very easy to wear and nice and breezy for hot days.
Once constructed I felt it was still a bit too straight-up-and-down, so added a little smocking detail into the front and back to add a touch more waist shaping. Really pleased with how this worked out: it’s just small pieces of thin elastic stretched and sewn onto the inside. This lawn was really scrummy to work with and feels great to wear – perfect for a loose summer sundress. I think it’s got a nicer handle than Liberty lawn, which I find can be a bit clingy and crease-prone, especially unlined. This one resists wrinkles much better but still has the characteristic fine weave which makes it delightful to sew and to wear. You can find the fabric here, and the Tessuti Pia pattern here.