For those of you that know me personally, or are regular visitors to my blog, you will know that I'm not really a fan of black and prefer bright, colourful, "cheerful" colours. So it may surprise you to hear that this months project for Minerva Crafts is a monochrome dress for myself.

I have absolutely no idea whether animal prints are in vogue or not at the moment, but I saw this Cow Print Fabric and had the mad idea that it might make quite a cool dress.

It is a medium weight velour with a tiny amount of stretch. It doesn't fray at all, so is really easy to work with.

Now, even I couldn't fail to notice all the bell sleeves that are currently all the rage and, having previously spotted this Laurel Dress Sewing Pattern by Colette Patterns, decided that this could be 'The One'.

This is the package that the lovely Vicki sent me - a very happy-mail day when this arrived.

After having a good read through of the instructions, I set to, cutting out the paper pattern in a size 14. (Apologies to those of you who faithfully trace your patterns before using them and are now having palpitations - I seriously can't be arsed with tracing!)

From experience, I knew I was going to have to lower the bust dart. If that sounds like a scary proposition to you, fear not, it's quite simple. I literally held the pattern piece up against my body making sure the centre front and the shoulder is in the right place, then marked a dot at the bust point. New dart lines are then drawn in as shown below.

After transferring all the markings to the fabrics with tailors tacks, another tip is to draw the stitching line for the darts directly onto the reverse of the fabric. This takes all the guess work out and makes it much easier.

Being just 5'2", I also shortened the skirt length by an inch or so.

Contrary to the instructions, I inserted the invisible zip before stitching the side seams, simply because it makes more sense to me.

Happy with that!

Adding a gathered ruffle to the three-quarter length sleeves is straightforward enough if you don't panic when you realise that there actually aren't any notches to match.

See, no notches!

I like that the ruffle is a double layer of fabric to add structure and is understitched to stop the seam from rolling to the front.

I skimped a little on the rows of gathering stitches, sewing just two rows instead of the suggested three. Normally, I find that one row will suffice but, as the fabric is medium weight, two rows would mean less chance of the thread snapping as the gathers are pulled up.

The sleeve heads were eased and attached in the same way, only there would be no visible gathers this time as all the excess fabric eases in invisibly.

Version 3 only requires a small length of bias binding for the neckline but, as I was unlikely to find a matching one, I decided to make my own out of the leftover fabric.

I strayed from the instructions again here, as the binding wasn't holding it's creases when passed through the bias binding maker. When flipping the binding to the wrong side, I simply stitched in the ditch from the right side. The fact that the fabric doesn't fray made this a simple task. It still looks neat, too, as you can see if you look carefully at the inside.

A hook and eye is called for to close the little gap above the zip, but I chose to omit this because I find it nigh on impossible to fasten/undo it on my own.

The hem was quickly overlocked, turned up and top stitched. A quick press and then it was finished.

It wasn't possible to pattern match at the centre back but, as there are back waist darts as well, it doesn't matter.

And so, outside for a quick photo shoot whilst the showers held off.

The sunglasses aren't an attempt to look cool, honestly - look, it really was sunny!

Let me be clear, I LOVE those sleeves!

The lowered bust darts are in exactly the right place.

I'm wearing it whilst writing this post and hubby has just asked if I'd like to go out this evening, seeing as I'm dressed up.

See you later!