My project for this month’s Minerva Crafts Blogger Network is something a little different for me - I used a vintage pattern! I have a fair few of them in my stash, but generally I tend towards vintage-inspired modern patterns. The fabric I chose for this month’s project is quite a striking design, so I wanted a really simple dress to show it off. I’ve been enjoying wearing A-line skirts recently, so when I found this shift dress pattern I decided to give it a go. It was a size 18 so I knew I would have to size it down, but given the simplicity of the design, and with the knowledge I had gained from taking pattern cutting classes, I didn’t think it would be much of a challenge.

As usual my fabric choice preceded the choice of pattern. My internal monologue went as follows:

I could choose some of Minerva’s lovely denim and make a pair of jeans! *looks at denim* Ooh that’s nice denim. That would be perfect. I’ll just have a quick look at the quilting fabrics...

OH ZEBRAS YES I NEED THAT!! I could make a zebra dress.

But would I wear a zebra dress?

Yes I would.

But I’m a mum walking kids to school and everyone’s in jeans wearing black and I’ll look out of place.

But if I make it with an A-line skirt then it’s practical and it won’t blow up in the wind.

But really I should make jeans because that is a good and admirable skill.

BUT ZEBRAS.

No, there is a reason this is quilting fabric, it’s because it isn’t meant for dresses.

Then again quilting fabric is excellent quality and it wears and washes well and it’s 100% cotton poplin. And look the zebra fabric is red, and red is my favourite colour! I could wear it with black tights so it’s definitely practical.

I really ought to make jeans.

ZEBRAS.

I could make jeans next time, maybe.

MAKE A ZEBRA DRESS.

So, back to the pattern. This is Style pattern from 1972 and I bought it in a charity shop for 50p. I liked the simple A-line shift dress style but with this fabric I didn’t want the collar. I also decided to omit the sleeves because I could just wear a cardigan and it’s better for the summer without. For my first toile I made the dress just as it came with no alterations and it was huge, especially around the upper part of my body. I tried it on inside out and then pinned out the excess from the side seams and re-sewed them. It was better but the armholes were weird because I had taken a few inches out of the side seam, and it gaped a bit under the bust. I was, however, confident enough in my alterations not to make a second toile. I transferred the new markings to the pattern paper, redrawing the armhole curve, adding in a small dart on the front armscye to prevent gaping, and widening the front and back waist darts ever so slightly.

I cut my zebra fabric and sewed it up and thought it looked small. When I tried it on it was pretty tight and I realised I had forgotten to add the seam allowance back onto the pattern’s side seams! Curses! I unpicked it and sewed the side seams again with a 1/8” seam allowance, double-stitched for strength because with a seam allowance that small there’s no way of finishing the raw edges! Luckily the fit has turned out great but next time obviously I would add the seam allowance on and sew it properly!

The dress was supposed to have a collar and sleeves, which means there were no facings drafted and I didn’t have any lining fabric to hand, so I finished the neck and armhole edges with bias tape turned to the inside and stitched on the outside. If I wanted to avoid stitching on the outside it would have been easy to draft facings, but with this fabric it wasn’t especially important to me.

I finished making the dress on Wednesday and wore it all day Thursday, walking to school and back, running errands out and about, and going to my WI meeting in the evening, so in the end I think a zebra dress was in fact a better choice than jeans.

Also I’m happy to be able to have taken part in #VintagePledge 2016, run by Marie of A Stitching Odyssey and Kerry of Kestrel Makes. The idea behind the pledge is to use our vintage patterns more regularly instead of just hoarding them and occasionally looking at them and thinking they look pretty!

Thank you to Minerva for continuing to feed my novelty-print habit ?