Minerva Crafts Blogger Network: Butterick 5559 sheath dress

Tuesday, December 24

My project for this month is not for the faint hearted. Don't get me wrong. Butterick 5559 is not a difficult pattern. Far from it. What it is though, is LABOUR INTENSIVE.

I should have read the reviews from other bloggers before picking this pattern, but what can I say? I loved the pattern. I have been admiring it for a long time on other bloggers, and wanted to have a go at it, so I have no one but myself to blame.

For this project, I selected a turquoise ponte roma knit fabric. This fabric is absolutely luscious, and I love the fact that it behaves like a woven fabric, minus the fraying, and it is stretchy enough to hide my many lumps and bumps. You can find it in 21 colours here. I am  definitely going to buy more of this fabric for future projects. I call it my "no hassle fabric".

 So, back to the pattern.

It is a sheath dress, which is good for me because my body proportions are all over the place. I cut a size 14 for the bodice, and then graded out to size 20 at the hips. I have a feeling after Christmas I shall be grading out to size 22.

The pattern like I said before, is easy, but quite tedious. It has 7 darts which are placed between 14 1/4 inch tucks, which when sewn, are hidden. Genius non? Tracing the fold lines for the tucks was not remotely amusing. You have to make the tucks on the right side, so what I did was machine baste the lines directly on the pattern with the pattern pined to my fabric. In hindsight, I should have used wax paper and traced the lines unto the wrong side of the fabric, then use that as my guide to machine baste the lines. My pattern is now completely destroyed, because I had to rip it off my fabric after basting. If you want to have a go at this pattern, don't make the same mistake I did.

When doing the 1/4 inch tacks, you have to be very accurate. I think I rushed things a bit, and the sides are not as aligned as I would have loved. I can live with the way they are though.

The dress runs short, so if you don't like short dresses, you will need to add some length to it.I added about 4 inches to the hem, but I think I should have added more because after hemming it, and all those tucks, it went to my knees, and I am not even tall.

I am actually quite happy with the dress. Mr.Dibs was impressed, and in his own words, "hmm, you know what you are doing sometimes". I'll take that as a compliment, thank you

If you want to read more about this dress, and various ways to help with the construction, you can check out this pattern review page on it.There are 37 reviews on it. If you want to brave it, you can buy the kit to make it here.

Merry Christmas everyone, and see you all next year.

Make your own Catherine Middleton engagement dress

Friday, December 6

Ok, so I have not been around these parts for the longest time ever!!
I had such grande plans at the start of November. None have been realised. The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed I did not even post a Minerva Crafts project in November. What can I say? Life happened. So many things happened last month, more on that on another post. For today though, we have the privilege of hosting Adrienne of All Style and All Substance

I first met Adrienne when she lived in the UK. She currently lives in Sweden. sigh! I have long envied Adrienne's country hoping. It feels like every time I read her blog, she has moved to another country.Adrienne is kindly showing us how to dress like the Duchess of Cambridge as part of the Wrap dress project. 

For those of you who don’t know me: Hello! My name is Adrienne and I blog over at All Style and All Substance. I’ve been a regular reader of Dibs of the Machines and it’s an honour to write this guest post today!

When I saw that Dibs was doing a wrap-dress sewalong, nothing was going to stop me. I was going to take part. Wrap dresses are my favourites!

But what wrap-dress sewalong would be complete without the wrap dress of all wrap dresses, namely, Catherine Middleton’s engagement wrap dress by Issa London?


Today, I’ll show you how to make your own engagement dress with a few simple tweaks, using a basic shawl-collared wrap-dress pattern, such as Vogue 8827.


1)     As we know, in dressmaking, picking the right fabric is half the battle. In this case, pick a fabric having extreme drape. It’s also preferable to pick a stretchy fabric.
2)     Make your dress following the instructions as you normally would, making sure the belt is wide enough (at least 3 inches, I would say) and long enough (so you can wrap it around your waist 2,5 times). During construction, omit any steps for side ribbons or snaps on the inside. Also hold off hemming your dress. If you’re using pattern Vogue 8827 as a base like I did, make View B with long sleeves, and cut three belt pieces instead of two, so you’re making the belt 50% longer.
3)     Sew the panels together down the middle. In order to determine where to sew, try on your dress and let both panels hang down the front. Mark on your dress the point where you would like the center front seam to begin (and the neck opening to end). With the dress on a flat surface, draw a straight line from the marking to the bottom of the front opening, as in the picture bellow. Stitch on that line.

4)     You’ll see that the hem will be irregular. Before hemming or cutting anything, hang your dress overnight, to let gravity pull your dress.

Thanks for allowing me to share this tutorial with you, and I’ll hope you’ll enjoy you Catherine Middleton knock-off dress! Happy sewing everyone!

P.S.: For more construction details and pictures of my dress, feel free to stop by!


Thanks Adrienne for such an informative post. This will hopefully spur me to make my own wrap dress this weekend. I say "Hopefully" because I have learned the hard way in the past 30 days not to plan too much.

What about you, have you made your own dress yet?

Fabric Detective

Saturday, November 2

UPDATE :  The fabric has unfortunately sold . out. All within 24 hours. Wow.

This is just a shout out to all the people who were itching to get their hands on this fabric

It is back in the Debzzart ebay shop.

Good luck!

Minerva Crafts Blogger Network: Mccalls 6752

Tuesday, October 29

I really enjoyed working on this month's project for the Minerva Blogger Network.The weather has well and truly turned over a new leaf so it is all wet and windy now in the UK. Waking up in the morning is becoming more and more difficult for me, and I am already dreaming of the days when darkness only comes calling at 10 pm. I have not really gone into cold weather sewing mode yet, but my project this month is meant to ease me (gently) into sewing with heavier fabric.

The fabric I used is a plum tweed jersey, which has a grainy texture to it, and has little specks of black. It is quite warm when worn, and it was a dream to sew.  I did not really know what to sew with it, but I knew it was going to be a dress.  So I went through my pattern stash, and pulled out McCalls 6752. If you have this pattern in your stash, get it out NOW and make it. It is so quick. This is probably the easiest thing I have made with a pattern. If you are new to sewing knits, I strongly recommend this pattern.

I made view B, but since I wanted a maxi dress, I lengthened the hem of the skirt. That was really easy to do as you can see from my little pictorial below. You'll have to forgive my attempts at drawing. I am no Picasso.

 1 - Decide on how long you want your skirt to be, and add the extra inches to the existing skirt length, not forgetting to add extra centimetres for your hem allowance. 
2 - Draw a straight line perpendicular to the first line
3 - From the widest point of the skirt hip, draw a line down, connecting it to line 2.

And that folks, is all. I am sure there are more professional methods of doing this, but this is what I did, and it worked for me.

I wore the dress last weekend to go shopping with my older sister. As you can see from the picture above, I ventured out in my flip flops because though it was windy, it was not cold. A good thing I wore them though because when I got to Oxford Street, I bought a pair of brogues, and wore them immediately. My flip flops conveniently disappeared. 

Now for some tomfoolery

Fabric Detective

Wednesday, October 23

I have been at it again. You can tell it is getting close to pay day because my fingers get very itchy around this time, and spend the time scouring the internet for fabric I would love to buy. Naturally 5 days after pay day I am once again broke, having spent my money on things I have been coveting all through the month. Mr. Dibs is not amused, but what can I do? A girl has got to have to buy lists doesn't she?. It does not always happen that way, but it does more often than not.

So, here I am again, with two sightings. As you know, it is my wont to spend time on clothing sites I cannot afford, unless they are massively on sale. Sometimes even the sale prices are still too much for me.

First off, from my fave shop Phase Eight.

You can make your own version of this dress, with this fabric found in what is now becoming my fave shop on ebay

The next little beauty is from Jigsaw.
I hardly ever buy from Jigsaw, but once in a while I see something I like during the sales. And again, you can get this fabric from the same ebay shop, Debzzart.

Now, you all know I love me some John Kaldor. Normally they are on the pricey side, especially if you buy them from John Lewis. I have alot of John Kaldor fabric, which I buy from wherever I can find them. The tocca lace I used for my Byhandlondon blue lace dress was bought from Goldhawk Road for £12/metre however, in most places, you will see it for £15/metre, and even more in good ole John Lewis.

A couple of months ago, I found an ebay shop, Prestige Fabrics,  that sells them at the most bank account balance friendly price I have ever seen. I have bought so many John Kaldor fabrics from this little shop, and I can attest to the quality of their service. The shipping is fast too, and very reasonable. I recently bought this fabric for my friend, and it only cost me £2.50/metre. That is what most of the fabric there costs.

Prestige Fabrics does not list many things at once, but whatever they list gets sold pretty quickly, so it is worth checking their stock every so often. I know this because I literally stalk them on Ebay. I have all John Kaldor fabric they have listed since the beginning of the year. Why am I telling you about this gem of a shop? Well, for the simple reason that my birthday is coming up, and I believe if I am good enough, I might a really good birthday present.

Now go buy some fabric*.

I will under no circumstances be held responsible for future bankruptcies due to overzealous fabric purchases.

Trend Watch : Full skirt

Sunday, October 20

I normally do not follow the trends set by the fashion peeps, BUT, it so happens that the type of skirts I like to wear is apparently en vogue. Yes peeps, the powers that be in the fashion universe have decided that Full skirts are so in. Many magazines, like this one, have been popping up about full skirts being a fall must have. I knew I wanted to sew a skirt for fall at some point, but I kept pushing it down the project list as other more exciting things came up. That all changed however, when I saw this skirt. I saw it on her instagram page, on Friday, and decided it was time.


I was initially going to use a burnt orange fabric which I had picked up from from one of the fabric swaps, but changed my mind when pressing it became a pain. The fabric is so wrinkled that to get it properly straightened would take for ever. I wanted to wear the skirt for my Alumni meeting on saturday, and I needed a really stress free and quick project, and the fabric was misbehaving, so I put it to one side. I went through my stash, and decided on a floral silk brocade I had bought from this ebay shop.

It was an extremely easy project to do. I just cut a rectangle the length of my waist, plus seam allowance for the waist band. For the main skirt, I simply cut to rectangles of 30 inches each. I wanted a midi length, so 30 inches was just perfect for me. I did not use my hip measurement. My fabric was 54 inches wide, so I just used all of the width. That helped with the side seams. I did not have to finish them off since both sides had selvedges.

To gather the skirt, I used a wide zig zag stitch, and placed a thick thread on my seam allowance. This method makes gathering EXTREMELY easy. I used this tutorial. For those who learn best by observing, you can watch this video on how to gather using a similar method.

I recently bought some stay tapes from A Fashionable Stitch and I was itching to use stay tape on a project. I used it to interface my zip area. Ah, I am definitely growing up peeps. I will have to write a separate post on my shipment from A Fashionable Stitch. Lovely stuff I got, and the service was just awesome. If you look closely, you can see the zig zag stitch with the thick thread in the middle.

Hemming this skirt, was my least favourite part of this make. Can you imagine having to hem 108 inches of fabric? Even though I did not enjoy it, I have to admit it was easier than the last time I made a gathered skirt. I used horse hair braid at the hem, and this made the process ALMOST enjoyable.

I really love this skirt. Not only because of the beautiful print, but because of the little techniques I used. I had never gathered fabric using the zig zag method before, and I must say, I am now a convert. I had also never stabilised my zipper area before. I am not sure if it made any difference, but the experts seem to think it is a good thing, so I suppose it is good, and I will do this more often.

I wore it to my alumni meet up, and received so many compliments. They especially loved the fabric. I love the fabric too, but it frayed like crazy.I don't know if I would like to work with brocade again. It was easy to sew, but the fraying just frayed my nerves. ah..I like the sound of that.

The Wrap Dress Project : Links

Monday, October 14

This post is long overdue I know, but I have a good excuse. Life!. Yes, folks, life gets in the way sometimes, and we just can't keep the promises we make.

I do have some updates.

First off, the Flickr group is now set up, so why don't you head up there and start uploading your ideas, muslins, and makes? Make us jealous with your sumptuous fabric choices, share your knowledge, get inspiration, and best of all, inspire others.

Secondly, a few links to help you with your wrap dress.

A fashionable stitch did a sew along on a a shirt dress and a wrap dress. Loads of tips.

This Threads article focuses on wrap dresses. IF you do not have this edition, or are not an online member, let me know. I will see what I can do.

Free wrap dress pattern

My friend Sandra, who blogs over at Threadie, has a very informative post with links and videos on wrap dresses hereShe is French, so her blog is in French, but I am sure you can get Google to translate the page for you. You can still watch the Diane Von Furstenberg video for eye candy.

Sandra also provided us with the following links.
- how to raise the neckline on a wrap dress :
-another one for a FBA on a wrap dress :
- SBA on a wrap dress ( scroll down the article) :

Thirdly, the blog button.

I finally have the button for the Wrap Dress Project. If you need to use it for your blog, grab the code from the grab box below and tell the whole world you are wrapping yourself up this autumn/fall.

Dibs and The Machine

<div class="Dibs-and-The-Machine-button" style="width: 125px; margin: 0 auto;">
<a href="" rel="nofollow">
<img src="" alt="Dibs and The Machine" width="125" height="150" />

The Wrap Dress Project: Schedule and my pattern selection

Friday, October 4

Can you believe 15 of us want to make a wrap dress? I can't wait to see what everyone does. Ohh, the fabric choices, the patterns, the frustrations I know will come with making dresses.

There's been so much stuff going on lately, and I have not had time to sit down and properly write about the Wrap dress project. So yeah, here goes.

Time Frame

First things first, I have found that I don't do well with keeping sewing schedules and all, so I am going to leave the time frame to you all. You can set yourself personal deadlines within our time frame. This is a very relaxed sewing project, the most important thing is to sew something you love which you will wear time and time again. I find that when I have a deadline, I rush things, and I end up not taking the time to sew properly, and I find myself really stressed, and since I want to live for ever, I am not going to impose a tight deadline on myself with this project. So I say we have between Saturday 5th October - Saturday 7th December, to sew our wrap dress(es). Two months. Not bad right? That way, we all have the time to sew our beautiful wrap dresses, whilst also having a life. This is the run up to Christmas, and I know people will be busy making Christmas gifts, and doing all sorts, and the last thing I want is for someone to go crazy because they did not complete their dress on time.

You don't have to limit yourself to one dress only. You can sew as many as you like. It is up to you. If you want to sew nothing but wrap dresses from now till the end of the year, then by all means, go for it. I for one will be going crazy. I already have some delicious fabric I ordered from ebay, and I have my patterns ready to go, so watch this space.


When I first spoke about this project, a couple of you wanted to know if I had a specific pattern in mind. Yes and No.

Yes, I have 4 patterns in mind that I want to make up.
No, I do not have a pattern in mind for you to make. That decision rests with you.

You will be the one making and wearing the dress after all, so the pattern choice depends on your style. It is true that most wrap dress patterns are similar, but then, your fabric choice will also influence your pattern choice. I for one will be making my dresses with knit fabric. Some of you might want to make a wrap dress from woven fabric. So, a lot depends on what you really want.

The patterns I have at home are

Kwik Sew 34489

Vogue 8379

Mccalls 5974

New Look 6097

There are so many different wrap dresses out there, and I know that everyone will at least find one that works for them. 

Now I know the patterns I have selected might not be everyone's cup of tea, so the next post will be focusing on other patterns you could use, and links to resources that could help us all in our quest to conquer the wrap dress.

I will also at some point this weekend, or early next week, create a flickr group so we can upload our progress there and discuss our makes.

Does that sound like a good plan? If there is anything you feel I should cover please let me know. I have never coordinated a sewing project before, so I am not sure of what I am doing. 

Have you all decided on your patterns and fabric yet? Do you have tutorials on wrap dresses that you think we will all benefit from? If yes, please do share , and I shall compile everything and add the to the next post.

As a reminder, the Wrap Dress Project shall be running for 2 months.

Start Date: Saturday 5th October 2013
End Date: Saturday 7th December 2013

Fabric Detective

Saturday, September 28

Okay, so what do you do when you are down with a cold?  Why, you feel sorry for yourself and laze about the internet of course, while taking the piss and making your other half do all the housework, including nappy changing.

Noah recently started nursery at a place about 5 minutes away from my new job, and so far, it has been good. He settled in pretty well, so either he really is a good kid, and gets along famously with everyone, or he really does not love me, and cannot wait to spend time away from me. He never cried the first day I took him there, and according to the nursery, he always has an excellent day. So, on the one hand, I am happy he is an independent mister, but on the other, I feel as if I have been used. Like he only wanted me to provide him with an oven for 9 months so he could get his little organs together within me, and then set off on his own as soon as physically possible. Oh well. Such is life I suppose.

So yeah, he is in nursery, and although it gives me the opportunity to work, it also comes with its own downsides. Like turning him into a contamination channel. The young man recently came down with a cold, picked up, no doubt, from his nursery, and promptly contaminated Mr.Dibs. Mr.Dibs in turn, because he never likes me to feel left out, passed it on to me. Now, a cold is a cold is a cold, and I know it is not supposed to be a big deal, but it is to me, and it breaks me down like nothing on earth, and I am now hanging on to my dear life. The only thing making life bearable at the moment is the amount of time I have to browse the internet, courtesy of my being ill.

Now to the matter at hand.

I was indulging in two of my fave pastimes just now, which if you have been reading my blog for sometime, will know that one of them is fabric shopping, and the other is eye shopping on the Phase Eight website. So yeah, I was doing both simultaneously, and I noticed a couple of fabrics that kept appearing on the two sites. Hmm, what would Sherlock do? I asked myself. Upon closer inspection, I discovered  not one


not two


Not even three

nor four

but five fabrics from the phase eight site on ebay. aha! Score.


I almost feel better, ALMOST. 

I am not even afraid you will all now rush to the ebay site and buy all these gorgeous fabric before I get the chance to order some because, as you well know, I do not hesitate when it comes to Phase Eight. Paypal has already sent my request to this ebay shop. Now, all I have to do is wait for my fabric.

This is just perfect timing, especially as I have wrap dresses on my mind. Which reminds me, thanks to all of you who are interested in sewing wrap dresses with me. I shall shed more light on that little project in my next post.

Have a good weekend people.

Burda Canvas Skirt

Tuesday, September 24

So its time for another Minerva Network project, and what do you know? I made a denim-ish skirt. Denim-ish because although it feels like denim to me, it is actually canvas.

 I made a Skirt using Burda 7283. You can get the pattern here if you like this style of skirts. It is basically an A-line skirt. I did not follow the pattern instructions. I literally just used the pattern pieces. The skirt is really easy to sew, and is appropriate for a beginner. My fabric has quite a busy print, so I decided to just make it without the buttons or pockets as called for by the pattern.

When I first saw this fabric, for some reason, I thought it was a soft cotton sateen, and wanted to make a dress out of it.  I should have read the description closely, because when I received the fabric, it was different to what I was expecting. I probably just got carried away by the beautiful print, and did not see the word "canvass" in the description. It actually worked out better that it was a heavier sort of fabric, which to me, is more autumn appropriate. I changed my mind about making the dress, as I thought it would go beautifully as a skirt.

What I love most about the fabric, is the print. Camouflage anyone? Content wise, it is a canvas fabric, with a good amount of stretch. It stretches so much that you can get away with not using a zip. I'm not kidding you. My skirt does not have a zip, and I managed to get it on with no problem. It is also quite comfortable to wear, which is always a good thing.

I wore it to a sewing meet-up the day after I made it. I really love this skirt, and I think I am going to make another one.

 I know I look silly in the next 2 photos, but I could not resist doing these silly poses.

If you like this fabric, you can get it here. The kit contains 2 metres of fabric, and an invisible zip.