It's time for my first Minerva Crafts Blogger 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 fabric 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 bit. But 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.

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:

The pattern doesn't really give any indication of whether or not to use lining fabric; 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:

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!

See you soon!