Hooray it's the summer! Well, sort of, for a few days at least... til it starts raining again! We're actually on a flood warning in Hebden Bridge, but that's the Great British Summer for you! 

I love the summer, I used to live in Bournemouth and I love the vintage seaside vibe: ice creams, penny arcades, knotted hankies, beach huts and deckchairs.

Yes, definitely deckchairs. So you can see where I got my inspiration for my latest make for Minerva Crafts.

This might be my last make for a little while as (exciting news), I've another little Mini on the way, due at the end of July. So, a mini Mini! It's another little girl, so we'll be going round again, and I'm planning on making a few little things (mainly blankets, cushions, a sleeping bag - not baby grows, even if that's on the Great British Sewing Bee!) for her - nothing that's going to get pooped on or grown out of (hopefully). 

So as I'm going on maternity leave soon, I thought my last make should be something nice and simple, so I'm going to show you another way with a previous Sewing Pattern. I used this pattern to make the sailor dress last year, and it's such a pretty dress, simple but looks great, with a few adjustments to make it lovely and summery. 

I'd really recommend this for beginners as it's so sweet and simple, but with the collar it will make you feel so accomplished, and with 4 different options so lots of variety, and I think it would suit pretty much any fabric, and it doesn't take a lot of fabric to make either. 

Last time I made option B with the ties at the front, but for this make I've gone super simple, combining options C and D so it's short sleeved without the tie. This uses such a small amount of fabric (even in age 4 size), that it's really economical, and one of those rare occasions where making a dress will be cheaper than buying one.

The fabrics I've chosen are a red and white Polycotton Fabric, at a super-bargainous £2.99 a metre, and for the collar a slightly heavier weight linen-look Cotton Fabric, which is lovely and crisp, a great fabric for summer, and so satisfying to press! I'm also adding a little ripple of red Ric Rac Trimming to the collar, but you can also decorate the collar with bias binding, or add a ruffle to the bottom in the linen fabric. 

The polycotton fabric is a little light and floaty, which is lovely for the skirt, but for the bodice I'm going to line it with the linen to strengthen it, and the fabric really pops against the white lining.

I think the linen-look fabric is stiff enough not to require any facing, so I've cut this out without adding any strengthening inside.

I've also double folded the fabric so when I cut it out I'll have two pieces exactly the same size - and there's no 'right side' to this fabric to worry about. I added the ricrac by sewing very slowly through the middle of the ricrac with matching thread, just missing the curves on each side. 

There's a helpful placement line on the pattern, so I carefully traced over it onto the fabric using a tracing wheel and dressmaker's carbon - a really good investment as it washes off and the carbon paper lasts for ages, and it's a super accurate way to mark things. 

I actually adjusted the curve slightly so that it was equal all the way around - the original pattern suggests it tapers at the end but I didn't like that. In the end, it turned out a little to close to the edge, so if I make this again I'll move it in slightly. 

Here's the finished dress - you can see that it's gathered around the waist so gives a lovely swishy skirt, great for dancing! Like before I shortened the skirt slightly, because Mini is a little of the petite side, and it turned out as the perfect length for her. 

There's also a continuous lap applied to the skirt, a little patch of fabric applied to the skirt so that it opens slightly, which means that you can fully line the bodice. The first time I tried this, I found it really tricky, but I managed it fine this time, so practice makes perfect! 

I did make a little bit of a mistake on the pattern matching on the front, although I lined the pattern  pieces up okay with the stripes, I miscalculated and overlapped two red stripes, when it should have been one red and one white... but I've fudged it by bringing the fastenings in ever so slightly. That's why there's a small overlap on the collar - but I'm not too bothered by that. To compensate for that, I've fastened it with snaps, applied with special pliers instead of the buttons I was going to use. It's a bit of a cheat but it ensures that the fastenings won't move and the pattern will sit right across the bodice. Snaps are great though, if you've seen some of my smaller outfits you'll know I use them a lot, they're so easy to apply and great for little ones and they absolutely won't come off, so no choking hazard. Again, an investment, but it will pay off. Ive included both the snaps and the pliers in my kit in case you wanted to use them too.

I really like the ricrac on the back of the collar, it's still got that classic sailor shape, but I've rounded off the corners slightly to make it a little softer. The square back sits really nicely across the shoulders, and it's totally enclosed by the lining too. This means the only seams you need to finish are the two on the sides of the skirt, so it's going to super resilient in the wash. 

I also love the way the collar comes over the shoulders, so it's gonna give a little bit of sun protection, and will look really cute poking out of a cotton cardigan when it's warm. 

I hoped to get a few more shots of Mini dancing, but she wasn't in the mood - she didn't like the dress at first because it was red, not pink (she's really into pink, what can you do?), but when she put it on she loved it. We also couldn't go for our planned outside shoot because it was raining (again).

She was also a bit tired, so took a nap under the table. What is it they say? Never work with children or animals? Sounds right! It just wouldn't be Thread Bunny without a reluctant model! 

So there you have it. Once again, I totally recommend this pattern for anyone who wants a super-easy sew or has been inspired by the Sewing Bee to start sewing. It's a real pleasure to make things for your child, and it's something I hope I'll continue to do once mini Mini arrives. If you've been inspired, check out my advice on beginner's sewing machines, and have a look at the phenomenal range of Fabrics and Sewing Patterns available at Minerva Crafts. There's some great fabrics available if, like me, you're on a budget, but want to make lovely things. They start at just £1.99-£2.99 a metre, which is more than enough for a lovely toddler dress or outfit. I really like this one, and this for a lovely summer dress. Just have a go, who knows where it will take you! 

I hope you've enjoyed this post. Im taking a little break from the Minerva network for a while as Im 8 months pregnant. With any luck I'll be back posting about my sewing in a few months time. 

Lots of love, 

Verity xx