Swag dress in a Minerva exclusive sweater knit

When Minerva presented their range of exclusive sweater knits to me I was very curious to know what they were like and when this piece of brushwork/giant animal print arrived I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a generous medium weight, very soft and super smooth to touch.

It was definitely worthy of a unique design so I got sketching in my Fashionary book. It’s fair to say that the natural drape of this fabric is what inspired the design. I wanted something cosy with long sleeves and and a high neck for chillier days. My skirts get shorter in the winter so I can embrace statement tights but I wanted a cheeky side detail to make it something other than just a fitted sweater dress.

I made a test garment before cutting into the lovely new fabric and I usually make the tester in the same or similar material at least but I had to settle for a cotton jersey as I couldn’t find anything remotely similar in my usual local shops. And needless to say, it didn’t behave in quite the same way. Luckily the Minerva fabric was much more conforming to my design, especially when it came to the funnel neck. I wanted it to crumple down, to reflect the draping at the left hip and it worked sooo much better than on the test version!

To achieve the side drapes, I created channels on the inside for two parallel ties which I secured at the tops. They are simply pulled and tied at the bottom which creates the draped look across the left front and across my left butt cheek! The ties were instrumental in creating an intentional detail rather than a look of ‘I simply haven’t pulled my dress down properly’!

I knew I wanted a statement sleeve of sorts but I didn’t want to go large on the shoulders so bishop sleeves were the best option and this fabric performed perfectly for the job. Incidentally I realised I hadn’t changed my sewing machine needle to a ball point one half way through and that a regular size 80 had done the job just as well. Having said that, the advice is to use a ball-point so best not do as I did, just in case!

I sewed the whole dress with a combo of a wide zigzag and the lightning bolt stitch. All seams were serged afterwards. I find it’s easier to make fit adjustments if needed this way. Although now I’ve nailed the fit, chances are I’ll sew it all up on the overlocker next time for an extra speedy sewing fix!

The hems including sleeves got special treatment with a twin stretch needle. Although, as always that didn’t come without grief! I’ve never managed to make a neat job of it first time. I’ve always ended up with a knotty bobbin thread or clunky stitches. But I was super determined not to end up with a lamo zigzag hem this time. So I addjusted the foot pressure, changed up the stitch length and basically threaded and unthreaded about sixteen times before it finally worked. And I’m so glad I persevered because it looks so much more finished.

I’m so happy with the result. And I’m warm and toasty and very proud of my exclusive self drafted dress. So much so that it bears not only my ooobop seal of approval label but the lovely Minerva Maker label too! Thanks Minerva. This fabric was such a treat to sew!

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