Hey guys!

Sarah from Wanderstitch here, back again with another Minerva Make :)

This month I've made a roll neck dress from Ponte Roma Fersey Fabric, in the claret colourway. I found this vintage dress pattern on eBay a while back, as part of a five-pattern bundle, but loved the style of it so much that I bought the whole bundle for just this one pattern! I thought it would be perfect for the spring, worn over some tights. The roll neck would be just the thing to keep the chill out. The pattern I've used is middle-front, view A.

Some vintage patterns are not the same as patterns as we know them today - a lot of them are single sized, and they are just plain pieces of tissue paper, with no markings. The first time you use a vintage pattern like this you'd be forgiven for thinking that the manufacturer had forgotten to print all the details on it! They also don't hold your hand as much as modern patterns, instructions-wise  - there's a lot of 'cut two strips 4 x 2 inches wide for the placket' going on, you don't get a tissue template for everything so you absolutely should read the instructions - thoroughly!! - to make sure you have cut everything that's required.

I sewed the whole thing on my overlocker and used the twin needle for the hem - I used to hate sewing with knits, but I'm slowly learning to love them! Ponte roma is a good choice for an introduction into sewing with knits as it's quite stable. The construction of the dress is pretty simple too, with no fussy lines. It closes at the back with an invisible zip.

I was taught a lesson with this dress, and that lesson is ALWAYS CUT YOUR NOTCHES. The only thing I cut notches on is sleeves - so that I can tell the front from the back. Usually with notches on sleeves and bodices, it's one notch for the front and two for the back, I don't bother cutting the notches on the bodices because it's (normally) pretty obvious which is which, and even more so when the back bodice is split in two to accommodate a zip.  I merrily went along and attached the first sleeve, and luckily tried the dress on before attaching the second sleeve.

Well, it looked *really* odd in the mirror. The sleeve was twisted all funny, the button placket was facing the wrong direction (even thought I was SURE that I'd followed the instructions correctly) and it just looked in general like a total shambles. So I went back to the instructions, confused as to what I'd done wrong. Then I saw. The notches on the bodice templates were the other way around - two notches for the FRONT rather than the back. I'd put the sleeve on the wrong armhole. I'm sure you all know how much fun it is to try to unpick overlocked edges, but since I didn't really want to cut it off at such a crucial seam (the hem I wouldn't have hesitated to cut,  but the armhole might be a bit less forgiving) I had no choice but to unpick. It took a while. I then had to put the sleeve onto the correct armhole, being careful to properly align the sleeve - now missing some of its seam allowance because it was trimmed in the overlocker - against the armhole, which still had its full seam allowance. Gah.

The sleeve placket was a new one for me - it's got little buttons on it, and loops made from fabric.  Despite the vintage instructions being a little bit sparse, I managed to successfully get everything in the correct place and the right way around. I chose some Domed Metal Buttons (in antique gold) for the closures, to give it a bit of a military look. I'd definitely recommend a Loop Turner if you're making small little straps like these - believe me I was very late to the loop turner party and it makes things SO much easier when you have one!!

The gathers at the top of the sleeve caps are intentional - they're part of the design - but on reflection I don't think they are my style. Plus, one side is much better than the other, probably to do with the fact that I had chopped off some of the seam allowance when sewing the sleeve on to the wrong armhole and it was all a bit of a faff to get everything lined up again! I feel a bit like the puffy shoulders gives me a star-trek type look, but maybe that was all the rage in the 70s?!

Despite the bust darts, I think that the bodice is smidge on the small side for me, and the bodice/skirt seam could do with being a few inches lower so that I can comfortably get my boobs in. Although I was drawn to the retro shape of the dress on the pattern envelope, it doesn't quite look the way I'd hoped on me. The fabric however is lovely and would suit winter dresses really well - a long sleeved Kielo Wrap Dress would be an excellent choice!

Happy sewing, and see you again next month!

Sarah // Wanderstitch