So I went to the Minerva meet-up! It is a fantastic fabric shop first and foremost which is always good and it was really cool to meet so many bloggers. It is slightly odd to meet people in the flesh whose blog you read – you already know a lot about them and you recognise the outfits they are wearing but you don’t really know them at all. I felt a bit like a teenager meeting a pop star ‘Oh wow, it’s Winnie from Scruffybadgertime and she is wearing her Flora dress!’. Luckily when meeting people who sew you can always ask about what they are wearing and talk about what you are both planning to make next.
Anyway – I was in a huge fabric shop and I wanted to buy fabric. I have been known to be paralysed by indecision at times like this (I have been to Goldhawk Road only once and failed to buy anything, except one piece of poly that I later realised I hated). I get a bit overwhelmed by all the options and end up not buying anything and I was determined not to let that happen. After a very long time patting fabric and staring at the shelves I found this most beautiful print – a blue rose print stretch cotton. I love the sharp contrast of the blue and white and the fabric has volume without being stiff. I got the By Hand London Flora dress pattern when it first came out but was waiting for the right fabric and here it was! Easy – so I went home and virtuously washed it with some other blue fabric I bought and I opened the washing machine to find it all grey and streaky – even after two soaks with colour run remover the beautiful white fabric was a disaster! Seriously – I may have actually cried because the fabric cost a bit more than I normally spend on fabric and I was so pleased with it!
So I tweeted about my despair (as you do) and Vicky from Minerva incredibly kindly offered to replace the fabric. Within a few days I had pristine fabric again and I was ready to go.
After my Anna dresses I decided to size up rather than down where I was in-between sizes and I cut a UK size 12 bust, grading out to 14 at the waist and hips.
In honour of my lovely fabric I thought I had better make a muslin. I went for the square neck version rather than the wrap and the straight rather than high/lo hem. The first bodice version revealed that although the fit wasn’t bad, both sets of darts were in the wrong place for me. I moved the bust dart down about an inch and the vertical waist dart about an inch closer to the centre – I guess things aren’t quite where they used to be… This was better but left me with some excess fabric under the bust. To be honest it wasn’t a huge amount – but I decided to use the SBA instructions from the By Hand London sewalong and took about half an inch out of the pattern. After this the fit was pretty good.
I was a little stumped about pattern matching, I felt that the roses were big enough that I needed to make an effort (and to avoid big bust or butt flowers) but with the bodice darts and the skirt sides being cut on the bias I couldn’t see how it would be possible to match everything. So I made an effort with the centre back seam where the zip goes in and the matching between the centre of the skirt and bodice at the front and it isn’t a million miles off (I am actually quite proud of the zip and the matching across the CB!)
I didn’t have a full 60 inch wide fabric which is required for the full width of the skirt pieces so I had to cut both front and back pieces on the fold and fold a bit off the side seams. I then very carefully cut the back piece into two – except that I didn’t do this – just as I finished cutting I realised that I had actually cut the front piece into two…. aaaggghh – I was beginning to think that this dress was cursed…. After a pause to kick myself I decided to try to make the best of it. The pieces are very similar in shape, the main difference is the curve at the side seam, I swapped the markings for the pleats from front to back and evened out the side seams. When I came to join the skirt to the bodice I found that the side seams didn’t exactly match and one side is off by nearly half an inch – which may be due to that or just my inaccuracy somewhere else. I don’t think it is obvious anyway – what do you think?
This fabric sews up like a dream – it doesn’t shift about or fray, it presses beautifully and is so comfortable to wear. Minerva have lots of other stretch prints and I really want to try more – this one and this one are both lovely. The pattern is actually very straightforward to sew once you have nailed the fit and lining the bodice meant I didn’t have to worry too much about seam finishes inside as everything is neatly tidied away. I used french seams for the skirt and hand stitched the hem which was time-consuming but worth it as machine-stitching would have showed up on either the blue or white bits.
And in honour of my lovely new dress we went to the beach to take photos at Another Place by Antony Gormley – known locally as the Iron Men. I have to say that I don’t know how Sew Busy Lizzy makes beach photos look so effortless. People stared at us, it was windy so either my hair was in my eyes or the full skirt was blowing around, the sun was in my eyes or bleaching out the dress and Mr Notsewsimple kept focussing on the Iron Man instead of the dress… anyway – we got some pictures that I liked in the end (and some hideous ones that I am not sharing!)
This has been a bit of an epic journey but I am so pleased with the end result, I wanted to make something a bit more involved and this has been the perfect balance of testing my (limited) fitting skills but not being too complicated to sew. My only worry is that it feels a little too ‘special’ for everyday wear and I need to have a wedding or something to wear it to. Since I don’t know when I am going to get an invite to anything special I guess I am just going to have to make sure I wear it a bit more often!