This beautiful lady McElroy linen - cotton fabric posed a conundrum. I had decided on a totally different pattern but something was holding me back from getting started.

I thought about the garments I wear most often and I realised that I wear simple dresses most of the time especially as it perfectly acceptable to wear a dress with trainers these days.

I wanted to sew a shirt dress with a full skirt but with time running out it had to be a pattern I already had.

I searched and searched through all of  my patterns and could find nothing. Then I looked again at the pattern I eventually chose and realised that with a couple of tweaks it was exactly what I was looking for - Simplicity 8384.

All of the dresses apart from the very long one have a handkerchief hem, which I do like but I wanted this dress to be one I could pop on for any occasion, even just popping to the supermarket. Actually that's where I have just been in it.

I chose the knee length version and marked a new hemline using a French curve. The hem can be straightened up later.

I then started with construction, which was very straightforward. Starting with the bust darts I made sure that the point was neat by fastening off by hand instead of my usual back stitch on the machine. I also pressed the dart over a Ham to keep the shape.

Then came the shoulder seams. 

I like to insert the sleeves at this stage wherever possible because it is so much easier to sew them on the flat. And easier to press them too!

It is then a simple matter to stitch the side seam and sleeve seam in one go.

The facing looks like it will not fit at first, but follow the instructions because when the facing is pressed open after sewing you will see a lovely curved front.

Then comes the collar which needs to be sewn in accurately and neatly.

The front bodice looks very neat and professional I feel.

The skirt panes are all joined together - do use tailors chalk to mark the back of each fabric piece and also which is the front skirt and which is the back.

Use a 5/8"seam, no smaller because we need to sew another row of stitches all along the back seam and wide enough to thread elastic through. Before you permanently sew the elastic in place do try the dress on.

I then used a chalk pencil to mark the buttonholes, except I decided against buttons and chose some pearlised metal poppers instead, just for something different.

If you have the pliers they are very easy and quick to fit. Take care to position them correctly first time as they are almost impossible to remove if you make a mistake.

Then comes the hem. Mine was fairy uneven as I altered the pattern, so either put your dress on a mannequin or your own body and mark the hem line properly.. I used a chalk measure and my Mannequin.

Once you are happy with your hem, and have checked it on your own body go ahead and stitch it in place permanently.

I thought about making a belt and rather then make a simple tie belt I cut a strip of fabric and stitched it together down the long side before turning it right side out and pressing. It overlaps by around 5" and - after testing the position by wearing the dress and belt , I fastened it with more of my poppers.

This belt is very subtle when worn but adds a nice touch.

To keep this belt in place and to stop it from being misplaced I added a popper to the centre of the back and the centre of the skirt, as close to the seam as I could get.

All that is left to do now is to finish the sleeves and give it another final press.

A linen and cotton mix fabric is a delight to wear as it is cool and comfortable. It doesn't crease anywhere near as much as pure linen can, so it is absolutely the perfect choice for any summer garment.

Thank you to Minerva for this amazing fabric, this dress has already had two outings and I am wearing it now so it is already a firm favourite.

Angela

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