For my next project with Minerva I knew exactly which pattern I wanted to make as I've been lusting over Gertie's latest dress design from Simplicity since it was released. The pattern number is Simplicity 8873 and the dress in question is a full skirted number with a high, horizontal neckline and super cute tie shoulder straps. There are two slightly different envelope designs to choose from, one with a circle skirt option and no trim, and the other (which I made) has a gathered skirt and jumbo (yes, jumbo!) ric-rac which pokes out from the top edge of the bodice all the way round.

Gertie said on her Instagram that her inspirations for this dress were The Marvellous Mrs Maisel and Audrey Hepburn - I mean, style goals or what! 

This is definitely one of those styles that could happily be made into a cotton summer dress, like my version, or a party\evening dress in a satin or brocade fabric.

Choosing the fabric for my dress took me forever because there is just so much choice on the Minerva website, and so many different fabric types would suit this dress. My decision was cemented, however, when I saw this scallop and floral print Cotton Broadcloth Fabric. I'm obsessed with it! It has a white background with teeny printed roses on their stems, inside the semi-circles of the scallops, which alternate green and red. I chose red ric-rac for the bodice trim and I love the contrast of the bright border on the white fabric. 

The fabric itself is a really soft, medium weight cotton that isn’t see-through! This is always one of the first things I check, especially with a white fabric, so I can decide what I'm going to wear underneath and if it'll be a problem being unlined - we all know that if it's going to be a fuss then it will never get worn, and I don't want that for any of my handmade garments! Also, just note that this fabric barely creases.

For the making, I was pleasantly surprised at the size options because in addition to the normal dress sizing, this design also comes with separate pattern pieces for bust sizes too, to help you get the perfect custom fit. 

The construction of the dress is fairly straightforward and didn't take long, although you will want to take your time when attaching the Ric-Rac. Try and get it right first time as the ric-rac frays horribly, so you’ll want to avoid any un-picking if you can!  The instructions say to trim the ric-rac between the bodice and the facing to minimise bulk but I wouldn't suggest doing this, otherwise I think you'll end up loosing all of it to unravelling. 

I had to shorten the bodice by quite a lot, but depending on how high you're planning to wear the top of the bodice you might not need such a severe alteration. One suggestion I have would be to knot or even tack your straps together at the length you're going to wear them otherwise each time you try the dress on to fit it, it will sit slightly differently.

The bodice of this dress is unlined and the skirt is very wide and therefore quite heavy so I decided to add a waist stay to help stabilise the waist and just give some extra protection against anything pulling out of shape. Hopefully I’ve added to the longevity of the dress by doing this. I just used a length of white bias binding stitched over the waist seam with a hook and eye on each end to be fastened before the dress is zipped up.

For the finishing touches I decided to make a belt in a red cotton I had that, by luck, was the same shade of red as the ric-rac! I added a pearly buckle to compliment the white background and contrast with the red belt. I think the dress really benefits from the splash of colour at the waist. 

I also didn't think that the bodice jumbo ric-rac was quite enough ric-rac so I also added some 'regular' size around the bottom of the skirt as a miniature border. Even though there is quite a lot going on with this dress it still, to me, feels quite understated and sophisticated. I think because it so closely replicates 1950’s floral summer dresses I've seen it just feels sweet and innocent. I can't wait for the sun to finally show her face so I can wear this little beauty out and about!