Hello there! Well, spring is dropping little hints that it's on its way with the odd flash of sunshine here and there, so it's fitting that this latest Minerva project is a cotton dress with a nautical feel.

I present Butterick 5747 from 1960:

Usually I assume with super-feminine, retro styles like this that wearing them will feel a bit 'binding' and uncomfortable compared to our modern cuts and stretch fabrics. But this dress is actually really lovely to wear - I want to find every excuse to wear it, so don't be surprised if you see me pottering around the supermarket in it!

The fabric is a lovely black crisp cotton sprinkled with off-white stars and dots. The style and fabric isn't obviously nautical, but I added some Russian braid to the collar to give it a sea-sidey feel:

Speaking of necklines, I'm particularly proud of getting this one to fit. I'm not a big one for making muslins - I feel like I'm wasting fabric - but this was worth it for the learning experience and the final result. I'll explain it in another post, but basically all I did was pinch a dart out of the neckline, making it lay extra flat. I closed that dart and then swung the excess into the waist dart. The pattern piece looked a bit odd - huge, massive waist dart - but the fit around the bust and neckline is just how I want it:

Since the neck is wide and on the bias, there's always the possibility it will stretch out. The best solution is to reinforce it with tape; I improvised by cutting strips from the selvedge of the fabric and sewing them in to the neck seam. Or you could use Vilene Bias Tape.

Improvised tape, sewn into the seam.

I also altered the insert at the front - the original size sat right up on my collar bone; I lowered it by about 2".

I swear it normally sits flat - I don't know where that crease came from

The neck insert on its own - it attaches with buttons and press studs to the inside facing

A few other details:

The hem is finished with bias tape and machine stitched:

There's a lapped split at the back of the pencil skirt, and I finished this with an arrowhead at the top to keep it from splitting open:

There's no zip in this dress, instead it opens and closes with buttons along the front. There's also a belt, which I'm not sure the dress really needs, but I added it anyway:

And here's a back view:

I think that's it! Remember, you can get everything you need to make this project - fabric, braid, buttons - in my materials list.

See you soon!