Hello all! This month's Minerva make is a bit fancy. It was my 21st birthday last week and I wanted to make something special to wear. I love black and gold as a colour combo so I chose this Metallic Brocade Fabric to make my dress with. When it arrived however, I was a bit stumped as to what to do with it, as the scale of the print was much larger than I expected. From then on the design consisted of breaking up the print as little as possible. 
I decided that the best way to go about keeping the print intact was to keep the design lines as simple and minimal as possible. I wanted to keep the idea of a strapless boned bodice, but all of the panels would give the opposite effect that I wanted to achieve. I ended up having 3 layers in the bodice: the outer, the underling and the lining. The zip went in at the side seam so I didn't have to break up the print in the centre back. 
First I cut out the underlining bodice out of the black Cotton Sateen Fabric and fit it on my body, taking out any excess ease. Then I sewed the plastic boning onto each seamline to give it some structure. Next I cut a rectangle of the outer fabric on the bias, bigger than the front bodice laid out flat. I could then stretch the outer fabric over the boned bodice so it conformed to the shape without needing any seamlines or darts. This was then repeated for the back piece. Thinking about it now, I could have cut the entire outer bodice piece in one and not had the side seam. 
I went for a circle skirt for the bottom half of the dress, which provided a massive blank canvas to show off the print. This was a nightmare to hem. First I tried laying it out flat on the floor, but that didn't work. I found the best way in the end was to put the dress on the hanger and then measure up a certain distance from the floor with a metre ruler. I wish that I had thought more carefully about matching the skirt up with the bodice. 
For the hem, I used Horsehair Braid for the first time to add a bit of structure. I miscalculated how much I would need to go all around the hem so as a last minute solution I cut the braid in half widthways which gave me double the length, and enough to go around the hem. This isn't something I'd do again though, because the cut edge is very prickly against the legs. (Don't worry, you'll be getting the amended yardage if you buy the kit!) I sewed the braid right sides together along the hem, pressed open and understitched. Then it was turned to the wrong side of the fabric and catch stitched into place.
The fabric is quite drapey, and feels nice for a polyester. It does fray a lot though, so it would be good to cut with pinking shears or overlock as soon as it's cut. The sateen which I used to underline and line the bodice with was really tightly woven, which was perfect for the structure I wanted from it. I'm pleasantly surprised with how this project turned out, as there were a couple of moments in the process when I was ready to throw it out of the window. I did make it very fitted, and it needs at least another person to help zip me in, so I wonder how to get the balance between not-falling-down and I-can't-breathe. 

Thanks for reading, to Bethan for the photos and to Minerva Crafts for providing the supplies for this project!

Lauren xx