My July Minerva Make – Retro Audrey Dress
My dress for the Minerva Blogger Network this month has a definite vintage feel to it. I used the vintage-inspired Eliza M Audrey Dress pattern which Claire, the lady behind Eliza M and Simple Sew patterns, gave to me for review purposes. I teamed the pattern with some of Minerva’s delightful designer cotton lawn in a retro print. I think it’s a good pairing! (Coincidentally, Minerva now stocks Eliza M patterns, which is brilliant).
The cotton lawn was amazing to work with. It feels so soft, it is light and drapes quite well for a cotton, and it behaves itself in that it doesn’t seem to stretch or warp. The print is awesome, obviously (I’m easily won over by novelty). Best of all, the fabric is 60” wide, which means you don’t need very much of it at all to make a dress. This dress has a full circle skirt but I used less than 2 metres of fabric. Winner.
I really love the design of the Audrey dress – the low V back especially. It isn’t lined: the neck and armholes are finished with a facing, which I like because it keeps the cost down and it’s easy to make. I actually used a plain black cotton for the facings, in order to try and preserve as much of the main fabric as possible. By doing this I was able to make the dress in a size 14 out of 1m65 of main fabric and 35cm of plain cotton for the facings.
The print of the fabric is two-way, so at the side seams of the circle skirt, the print is running horizontally, but I quite like this effect. The only downside to squeezing a circle skirt onto 60” wide fabric was that I was unable to lengthen it as it only just fit on. I’m quite tall at 5’10” and this dress sits a few inches above the knee – what might be termed as a ‘fun and flirty’ length when you’re no longer in your twenties! I think I can just about get away with it with bare legs in summer, so long as I’m wearing knickers with decent bum-coverage underneath just in case the wind catches the skirt…
I overestimated the amount of ease built into the pattern, which is actually pretty true to size, so I had to make a few alterations to the pattern. I tapered out from the armscye to the waist from 5/8” to 1/4”, and used a slightly smaller seam allowance at the centre back (3/8” instead of 5/8”). However, I don’t think I’d cut a 16 next time as I like the fit I got with these alterations. I would like to lengthen the bodice slightly though, which would also have the advantage of lengthening the dress overall without having to alter the skirt pattern.
I like the overall presentation of the pattern itself, although I do have a few gripes:
- The pattern envelope is sealed at the top with gummy, sticky glue, which is messy and annoying. It would be better for it to just fold inwards rather than be sealed in this way.
- It doesn’t say on the pattern envelope that you need a zip for this dress, and even in the instructions sheet it doesn’t state what length of zip you need. Luckily I knew from having made a million other dresses what I would need (a 16″ zip – I used a concealed one).
- The tissue paper is thicker than the normal type and feels better quality and more hard-wearing, but the pattern is printed on one giant sheet of paper measuring 1m x 2.5m which is pretty difficult to handle. I think it would be better printed on two smaller sheets for ease of handling.
- The line-drawing for the Audrey dress is misleading – it suggests a gathered skirt rather than a circle skirt.
Other than that, the pattern is good. I love the vintage-inspired design of the dress: the low V back and the circle skirt. The pattern drafting is good: I like the waist darts because they are wedge-shaped which means that it comes in under the bust and fits the midriff nicely, and I like the facings which eliminate the need for a full lining but which are satisfyingly deep and definitely won’t pop out. The overall design of the paper pattern itself is appealing, and the instructions are clear.
I think I’ve said as much as I can about the pattern: it only remains for me to say that I’m very pleased with my new dress (as always!) and want to say thank you to Eliza M patterns for providing the pattern and of course to Minerva for the fabric and the zip!