Hi Guys,

I'm very excited to show you my second Minerva Crafts make - my Christmas dress :)

I chose the linen-look cotton fabric again (I'm nothing if not predictable) for my second make as I couldn't resist the deep wine colour for Christmas (I'm the antithesis of Kathryn! Although I do love the Aubergine too). And I do fully intend wearing this dress on Christmas day!

When it came down to pattern selection I was slightly torn. I wanted something that would look nice on Christmas day, and I wanted it to have sleeves (as its getting chilly!). I almost switched to Rachel's Brazilia dress as I had already done two muslins but couldn't face drafting the sleeves! I just had this look in my head of a long sleeved dress, and the Hawthorn fit the bill. That being said, I changed my mind about 4 times. I started to dislike the pattern after I had stared at it for too long! I thought perhaps it wasn't edgy enough - I went around in a circle but came straight back again! I decided it was what I wanted.

I sewed my bodice muslin up with sewable tracing paper. It showed that the bodice was gaping slightly at the back neck so I took in the darts a bit more and that was sorted. I only did a 1cm seam allowance at the waist but I could have gotten away with the full 1.5cm in the end. I was erring on the fear of it pulling at the bust - I hate that. I would prefer it be a bit roomier. Although now that it is, I feel I definitely need a beige belt to tie it all together.

Other adjustments I made were to do a smaller seam allowance on the lower edge of the collar which makes it wider and I didn't turn up the hem by the full seam allowance. I added a navy polysatin lining to the skirt so I could wear it with tights. I also cut the back skirt out on the fold instead of in two pieces

I had always intended to skip the sleeve placket but in the end I bit the bullet as i couldn't decide how to fudge it and to be honest it was much easier than I thought! I love the look of it and its my favourite part of the dress.

Things I wasn't Happy with;

The fact I don't have a pressing cloth! - number 1 on the purchase list. I was at risk of putting a shine on this fabric but I think I got away with it.

The sleeves came out far too big and I feel its drowning my arm. In the online sewalong its mentioned that you may need to adjust the pleat to fit the cuff on - I had to double it!! and I went back to check I had traced the right sleeve size and I had. I don't know if I managed to trace the cuff size too small by accident - but it's still bigger than my liking! Next time I will be checking the fit of the sleeve more thoroughly before I go ahead. It's wearable but I'm not 100% happy.

Most of the dress is overlocked but a few bits I had to zig-zag as I hadn't done the overlocking at the right point in the construction and then I was too far in to make it look nice.

The buttonholes - but that's my machines fault. It was in a hungry hippo sort of mood. Also I would be more careful with my button placement on the cuff's nect time as they need to be quite close to the edge to get the placket lying flat.

My mistakes:

I set the sleeve the wrong way around the first time - dope.

The right cuff has a buttonhole on the wrong side (the button side) as I wasn't paying enough attention - I would've just ripped out the stitches but I had already opened it. I only realised when I was trying to button it. It's hidden but annoying.

In cutting the back skirt out on the fold, I forgot to remove the centre-back seam allowance initially. Therefore the skirt was too big. I trimmed the excess with the overlocker which fixed the size but it affected the notches and they didn't match up with the bodice anymore!

I also forgot to add some other notches and had to go back and add them when the dress was almost finished which is always awkward.

What I was Happy with:

I sealed the lining fabric into the front facing with the buttonhole and button stitching, it looks very professional.

I love the plackets!

Button placement - especially for the fact they were done in Prague airport arrivals lounge! I must have confused a few onlookers! The markings had long since disappeared!

All in all I do really like the dress. It's first outing, shown in the pictures, was to see the Prague National Theatre Ballet perform "Sleeping Beauty" at the Prague State Opera House which was pretty special, and therefore the dress will have special memories for me. My first ballet!

I hope you like it, and if you want to make your own you can get everything you need here at Minerva. Take a look at my materials list - it has 3m of the fabric - there wasn't too much left over! It has has interfacing, matching thread and 15 buttons. I would err on the side of an extra spool of thread, i ran out, but happened to have bought almost the same colour for a different project so I was saved running out the door in a craze!

See you guys soon, and have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

Emmie xx