You know how it is when you order Fabric that you have not felt or seen, you are not quite certain what it will be like. Well I hadn’t seen this fabric “in the flesh” when I ordered it, but goodness what a lovely experience it was when the parcel arrived and I opened it.
In case you have never sewn with the Velour Fabrics from Minerva before you are in for a treat. The fabric is buttery soft, but yet holds its shape, and it stretches across the width which means that it gives a little when you wear it, but it is easy to sew.
The pattern I had in mind for this was entirely different to the one I eventually chose. I was browsing through the Minerva website and came across Butterick 6244
The dress looks very plain on the envelope but when I looked at the pattern in more detail I realised that the dress has contrast sides at the bodice and a contrast yoke. I remembered that I had some black Baby Cord Fabric leftover from a previous project, which has the same properties as the velour in that the weight is the same, it has stretch in it. I thought that it would be an ideal partner for the grey patterned velour. Darker panels down the sides of any garment are very flattering and slimming by the way.
Pre-wash both fabrics and press them gently on the reverse when dry. You should always have your pattern pieces running in the same direction no matter what fabric you are using but it is doubly important when using a fabric which has a “nap” as these have. If you run your hand gently up and down the fabric you will notice that it feels rough one way and smooth the other – that’s the nap.
Choose your correct size according to your measurements and cut out the pattern pieces. Having shrunk somewhat in the last year I suffer from a touch of body dysmorphia and always cut out a slightly larger size “just to be on the safe side” I wish I wouldn’t, as I invariably end up having to take every garment I make in! Better to have too large seam allowances than too small though.
The garment is lined but I chose only to line the bodice, depending on your fabric you may choose to line the skirt too. I lengthened the skirt by 2 ½” by measuring directly onto the fabric and marking the new cutting line with tailors chalk, and I lengthened the sleeves by four inches tapering them slightly towards the hem. This can be adjusted at the fitting stage.
Tack your bodice together and try it on for fit. Once you are happy that the fit is correct, make up the bodice and the bodice lining. Press as you go along as it does make a difference to the finished garment.
If a garment is going to be lined then you need to make sure that the seams are secured or they could move around and form lumps during wear. To solve the problem on this dress I topstitched all the seams after pressing them towards the grey fabric and stitching close to the seam. I topstitched the seams on the lining too.
Right sides together, stitch the facing to the bodice just along the neck for now. Clip the curve down to the stitching,then  press and turn the lining to the inside. Press again and tack the neckline for now, leaving an inch or so at the centre back to enable you to insert the zip easily.
Stitch the skirt together and join it to the bodice matching the seams. Stitch the centre back seam up to the markings for the end of the zip.
I have taken to using normal zips as opposed to invisible zips on thicker fabrics. They are very easy to insert. Tack the centre back seam along the seam line and press it open. Lay the zip face down with the teeth along the seam and tack it in place. Using a normal zipper foot, top-stitch on the right side of the dress, placing the machine foot next to the zip teeth. You will need to remove a small amount of tacking to enable you to push the zip pull down whilst you stitch the top. Remove the tacking and press. This is a really easy way of inserting a zip so do try it.
The next thing we need to do is to insert the sleeves. Sew a long machine stitch from the back notches of the sleeve right the way along the top ending at the front notches inside the seam allowance. Don’t secure the ends as we will be using this row of stitches to ease the sleeve into the armscye.
Machine baste the lining all the way round the armscye, then tack the lining in place at the centre back and waist.
Stitch the side seam and finish the sleeve hem. I find it easier to do it now rather than when the sleeves are in place. Using plenty of pins and working on the inside start to pin the sleeve in, matching up all notches and easing the sleeve in as you go. You are aiming for a smooth seam with no gathers visible or any puckers. When you are satisfied machine stitch and check your work before you neaten the seam.
Hand-sew the lining in place along the back and along the waist and top stitch the neckline if you want to.
Finish the hem either with an invisible hem or by top stitching. Give it a final press and wear!
This is not a difficult dress to make. It introduces adding a lining and a zip which are easy to do and worth trying if you have never attempted them before. The important thing is the fit, so take time to get it right as it will make a huge difference as to how the dress looks when being worn, you don’t want it too tight or too baggy.
Velour is a delightful fabric to wear; it is warm and soft to the touch and is easy to care for. It is not just for dresses, it makes great skirts and jackets too. Do consider using it for your next project.
Angela