Thursday, 14 November 2013

Minerva Bloggers Network - Ahoy There!

It's time for my first Minerva Bloggers' Network project - I present to you the Ahoy There! dress:

Otherwise known as Vogue 8728, from 1946:

I know it's freezing cold outside and that this is essentially a summer dress, but then I've never let things like temperature dictate what I wear. Besides, winter is exactly the time when we need bright colours around! 

I used a lovely cotton poly mix printed with polka dots and nautical rings on a red background. The fabric has a 'stiff' quality and at first I wasn't sure there would be enough drape to suit the 40's look of the design. You definitely need to pre-wash it before working with it to soften it up a bitBut after that it's a dream to work with - it hardly frays, irons beautifully, and doesn't crease at all. A dream fabric!

I didn't really think about how the gathered bodice was going to look over my bust, as I'm not wanting in that area. Would the boobs get all the attention? Ultimately, I don't think it looks too bad:

 The dress goes together really easily - the gathered bodice makes fitting pretty easy, and the skirt just gathers up and attaches to it. For reference, I cut the size 14/bust 36. I only made a few adjustments:

- the pattern instructions guide you to lay the waist yoke over the bodice and top stitch through all the layers. I preferred to encase the raw edges between 2 layers, so I cut 2 of the waist yoke and stitched the bodice between the 2 layers and then turned it right side out. I trimmed the seam allowance, then top stitched through all the layers.

Bodice yoke before being turned right side out

Yoke turned right side out and top stitched

- I didn't really want to make the belt - it just wasn't doing it for me. Instead I interfaced a strip 3" wide and the length of my waist measurement, stitched it and turned it right side out, then added a bow and used a hook and eye to close it:

It's a bit hard to see on the dress, but I assure you it's there!

- the pattern doesn't really give any indication of whether or not to use lining; I almost always add lining to a skirt and this dress was no exception. I stitched the 2 layers separately, then treated them as one when I gathered the skirt and attached it to the bodice. I also used off-cuts from the lining to make bias strips to finish the hem:

Detail of the lining and finished hem
- The hem is marked at 2", but that was too long, so I shortened the dress by 4" and shortened the lining by 5 1/2"

- I'm essentially quite a lazy seamstress and if I can save time I will. So when the pattern recommended you make your own shoulder pads, I decided instead to use these beauties:
They have a nifty little velcro strip along the top; I tacked the top strip to the shoulder seam then just stuck the shoulder pad in.

The only other recommendation I would make is to avoid hand stitching with this fabric - the texture is too crisp and the hem is huge, so just stick to machine stitching. And there's enough going on in the pattern that you don't see any stitching.

I really love wearing this dress, and was determined to get some shots of it by water. So I braved the cold November afternoon to pose by the Regents Canal:

Bemused dog walkers and cyclists wrapped in layers of winter clothes looked on while I pretended I was in some sort of summer location. The cold always makes me hungry so Mr Needles and myself headed over to The Advisory in Hackney afterwards and ordered a heap of burgers and fried food:

I managed to stuff most of this into my body while wearing this dress, so I can confirm you can eat copious amounts of food without any seams splitting!

And that's pretty much it! If you like what you see, head on over to the Minerva site where you can buy a kit with everything you'll need, even down to thread and zips.

See you soon!


  1. Absolutely gorgeous! Love the colour (naturally!), the nautical fabric, the bias trimmed hem, the lovely vintage details, everything in fact.! x

  2. Congrats on your first Minerva post Mrs Needles and welcome to the club! This dress is fantastic and even more fantastic in the flesh. Love all the extra Mrs Needles style additions, such as the lining and hem treatment. You're exemplary! Lots of love xx

  3. Wow! That makes up beautifully! I have that pattern but have not used it yet; you did a wonderful job!!!

  4. I love everything about this dress but most especially the cheeky little bow on the belt :) Fabtastic!

  5. Aw this is so cute! I made a dress from this cotton last month and wore it yesterday and you're so right about the amazing crease-resistant nature of the fabric!

  6. This is gorgeous! I love that fabric, what a pity that I'm on a red print fabric buying ban! And extra sewing points for braving the cold weather for the photos!


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