My Minerva outfit reveal: floral crop top and pencil skirt

So it’s taken me FOREVER to write this post, and you’ve probably already heard about the Minerva meetup on a million blogs.

You know about the Raiders Of the Lost Ark style craft warehouse, the amazing dinner at Blackburn Rovers FC, and the red carpet line-up, as well as the realisation that the £3 taxi ride exists when you leave London.

So this post is just about my outfit. Thanks to Katie for taking some of the photos (you’ll be able to spot them, they’re the good ones).

The outfit

I knew I wanted to make something different, and in the end I came up with the idea of a pencil skirt and crop top:


Originally I was going to sew some kind of crazy one-shouldered 60s pencil dress, but when the fabric arrived (this beautiful John Kaldor stretch cotton) I knew I had to do something simpler. The print is huge! And I didn’t really fancy a shift dress. So co-ordinates it was.

The pencil skirt

It’s a By Hand London Charlotte skirt, which is really straightforward to sew. I made these changes to the pattern:

  • Cut a size 12 but added length to the waistband, which I interfaced.
  • Lengthened the darts 1.5cm each at the front, as I was getting a strange fold of extra fabric there.
  • Interfaced the edges of the invisible zip.
  • Added a back vent using this tutorial.
  • Lined it with this stretch mesh.

Stretch cotton is absolutely perfect for this pattern, I’ll be looking for some more to make another one. Although you need to add a vent – not sure how you could walk in it without one!

Minerva outfit 2The crop top

It’s a Burda pattern – 05/2012 #131.

I cut out a size 34 and had to make some serious changes as it was huge. I took the sides in a lot, cut about 4 inches off the bottom, added back darts and neck darts, and swapped out the button band for a zip.

Here’s how it looks on the back:

Minerva outfit backI did make an effort to match the pattern on the back pieces, but I didn’t bother with the sides. You’ve got to pick your battles.

Everything else

Cutting out was an enormous pain. I did it all on a single layer as the print is so huge. I didn’t really want to end up with a massive flower over an anatomical feature.

My inspiration was this outfit from Jonathan Saunders which is slightly more classy:

Jonathan SaundersIt’s pretty tricky to know exactly how much midriff to expose, but I was limited due to zip size.

The separating plastic zipper is from Jaycotts, and I had to choose between the 14 and 16 inch variations without knowing exactly how long the top would be. In the end I went with the 14 inch, which worked as the skirt was so high waisted.

crop top zip close-upZIP ENHANCE

Will I wear it again?

The acid test. As a whole, I reckon the outfit works, and I might get it out for a wedding this summer. It turned out slightly more cartoonish than I intended, but I think I rocked it anyway.

It seems highly unlikely that I’ll wear the crop top with another skirt – the Charlotte is the most high-waisted skirt I own.

I did try the top on with another skirt, but it was all a bit 90s looking. I distinctly remember wearing a tie-dye crop top to a school disco in about 1996, so I think I’ll leave that style the second time round.

The skirt is a different issue. I’ve already re-worn it loads! It looks really good with a denim shirt, if I say so myself:

pencil skirt and denim shirt

Thank you Minerva!

Huge thanks to Vicki and everyone at Minerva for organising such an amazing day. I’ve been a terrible network member lately, massively behind with projects and blog posts, but I really enjoy being part of it all, and I sincerely hope I’ve managed to shift some fabric for them. They deserve it!

Also a big thank you goes out to all the ladies of the online sewing community, for being awesome.  I’d be living a much sadder life if I’d never met all these amazing women. Although I’d probably have spent less money on fabric.

Picture 3
Spoolettes forever

Muppet blue pencil skirt PLUS bonus Sorbetto

I have been sewing!

It’s true, even if you wouldn’t be able to guess it from reading this blog. I’ve just been too busy writing endless job applications, attempting to get our boiler fixed, and practising my new Ballet Workout exercise DVD (okay, I haven’t actually done that last one very much).

I’ve even been keeping my resolution of sewing with Burda patterns. This skirt is from 08/2011, made in lovely felty wool from Fabricland. The top is another Sorbetto.

I’ve pressed the heck out of these darts but they still look strange. Hmmm. I liked this skirt because of the lovely inverted pleat and petersham waistband, but I added a few details:

  • A lining (made from the mysterious American D-Kripp from Ultimate Craft! At 1.50 a metre you can’t go wrong)
  • Pockets, also from the enigmatic D-Kripp
  • A back vent, from this A Fashionable Stitch tutorial. I didn’t incorporate the lining. I had a look at an old RTW pencil skirt and there’s a big hemmed rectangle cut out of the lining back seam, so I did the same here. Well, if it’s good enough for M&S…

I’ve had NO luck with my stupid Burda invisible zip foot lately. The teeth just get stuck in the groove, resulting in little fabric puckers all the way down.

I put this one in with a normal zipper foot, but it’s less than perfect. Any top tips? You can see how rubbish it is here:

The Sorbetto is entirely stash-made, from fabric and bias binding left over from my birthday dress, as well as various random trimmings I found while having a tidy up. There are three tiny pearl buttons at the top. It’s a possibly a teeny bit too Per Una-esque, but I like it anyway.

I have one and a half metres left of this bright blue wool fabric, so I’m thinking another skirt might be useful, only this time one I can wear on my bike (Have you ever tried cycling in a pencil skirt? Not recommended).

There is a matching jacket in the Burda issue, but I’m not sure I could pull off a whole outfit in what I like to call ‘Cookie Monster Blue’…