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The Minerva Meet-Up…and my evening dress!

June 24, 2014

The by now legendary meet-up that occurred on June 14th 2014 at the Minerva Crafts Centre in Darwen has been thoroughly documented through a variety of social media platforms, and there is not much more I can say about it that hasn’t already been said…but I’m still going to tell you a bit about my day, and of course, show you in more detail the dress I made for the evening do!  On the big day, I awoke at 4am, and I confess I was simultaneously excited and nervous about the day ahead, so instead of getting up at 6am as planned, I got up at 04:30am knowing I could then take my time and be less stressed about how long it would take me to apply my eyeliner.  No, seriously.

I arrived in Darwen just after 8am, and was able to check into the hotel mega-early, which was great.  I donned my most recent Minerva make – my fifties-style halter neck dress – and got a taxi over to the wonder that is the Minerva Crafts Centre, grabbed some Bucks Fizz, and got stuck into a crochet workshop which was fun.  Winnie (of Scruffy Badger fame) and I both chose the same wool for our bags – we were drawn to the sparkly!

Bucks Fizz and crochet at 09:30am!

Bucks Fizz and crochet at 09:30am!

The crochet workshop ended just as Karen’s presentation began, so I had a good seat for that.  It was excellent – well done Karen – a very nerve-wracking thing to do!  Karen wanted to find out who the Queen of Sewing might be – if she even exists.  She asked us to all raise our hands and then she asked a series of questions about our usual sewing habits – for example ‘Have you ever sewn over pins?’ or ‘Have you ever used your fabric shears to cut paper?’.  If our answer to any of these questions was ‘yes’, we had to put our hands down.  After three or four questions, the only person who still had their hand up was Amy (kudos!) – can you believe she has never skipped making a muslin?!?!  Impressive 🙂

Karen trying to find out who the Queen of Sewing really is!

Karen trying to find out who the Queen of Sewing really is!

After that I milled around and chatted to loads of people – some of whom I had met before but a lot of new people too.  There were so many people to chat to that I could barely concentrate on what I might like to buy – plus I was totally overwhelmed by choice!  I got to go into the warehouse and I gave a short interview where I became embarrassingly nervous, and I took a few photos of two of the aisles.  If you can believe it, there was even more than what is pictured here!

Two aisles left and right, and what I was wearing on the day in the middle.

Two aisles left and right, and what I was wearing on the day in the middle.

Elisalex and Victoria, two-thirds of the pattern company By Hand London, were there and they gave a presentation talking about what it’s like to work in their business, and how they got into it in the first place.  It was really fascinating and inspiring.  I particularly enjoyed their reasons for working: ‘I work because I love this shit’:

Elisalex (left), Victoria (centre) and Vicki of Minerva Crafts (right)

Elisalex (left), Victoria (centre) and Vicki of Minerva Crafts (right)

I got to have a lovely talk to Claire from Eliza M and Simple Sew patterns, which was nice after so much emailing back and forth when I did the Brigitte dress sewalong.  I did not leave her pattern stand empty-handed…so watch out for some more fabulous frocks soon!

Photo courtesy of Minerva Crafts

Photo courtesy of Minerva Crafts

Anyway, what I’m really here to show you is the dress I made for the evening dinner.   As you may know from my ‘teaser’ post, I chose a gorgeous John Kaldor printed ramie – not the obvious choice for evening wear, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make something with that print: it was love at first sight!  I chose a Simplicity Cynthia Rowley pattern: 1801, and went for the sleeveless, maxi version.

Cynthia Rowley 1801

Cynthia Rowley 1801

Once I had made my toile, which revealed I needed to cut a larger size, the sewing was straightforward.  I didn’t bother to pattern match except for the centre front bodice seam – I spent ages lining up the two halves of that flower!  It didn’t seem worth matching the rest because the gathering would have thrown any matching out of line anyway.  I used French seams pretty much everywhere, apart from the side seam which has the zip, which in the end I overlocked in red.  My invisible zip went in really well – you can see a tiny peek of it at the midriff band where there are several layers of fabric involved, but I’m happy with it.

(Almost) invisible zip

(Almost) invisible zip

It was only when I’d almost finished the dress that I realised it was going to be a bit too short, especially as I wanted to wear high heels with it.  Luckily I had just under half a metre of fabric left, and that allowed me to cut two extra panels for the bottom of the dress which I made sure I pattern-matched exactly to make them less noticeable.

Can you tell I added a panel at the bottom?

Can you tell I added a panel at the bottom?

The bold print means that some of the details of the dress are lost: it has separate shoulder yokes and an upper back yoke, and the bodice pieces gather into these yokes at the top and then also gather into the midriff band at the bottom.  It would look lovely in a solid colour and I’ll definitely be making another of these at some point.

Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity - 1801

Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity – 1801

Initially I was worried that I was going to feel underdressed for this special occasion, but having spent the day wearing a boned, halter-neck dress with a full petticoat underneath, I was relieved to change into something which felt effortlessly glamorous but totally comfortable for the evening.

Here I am wearing the dress on the night

Here I am wearing the dress on the night

It was so nice to see what the other bloggers had made too: to be amongst such a talented bunch of people, and to see how everyone managed to express their own unique sense of style.  I was sitting on a table with Amy, Emmie, Elisalex and Victoria, Vicki of Minerva and Marie, and it was great to spend some more time with these ladies.

Our dinner gang

Our dinner gang

The lovely thing about this meet-up was that it really was a full weekend – there was no leaving early to get the train back – in fact we were all out until 1am and came back to the hotel all together, and many of us met again at breakfast the following day.  It was an event full of fantastic opportunities: the opportunity to make such a special dress, to spend time with fellow sewing enthusiasts, to meet new people, to dance the night away, to travel to new places!  Thank you, Minerva, for an unforgettable weekend!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. stgilbert permalink
    June 24, 2014 4:27 pm

    Both your dresses are gorgeous!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      June 24, 2014 7:07 pm

      Thank you Sarah. I enjoyed making and wearing them both x

  2. June 24, 2014 5:42 pm

    I love that dress – it really suits you!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      June 24, 2014 7:08 pm

      Thanks Rachael, I do love a good maxi!

  3. June 24, 2014 7:02 pm

    Looks like such a fun day! Your dresses are lovely. I like the simple elegance of your evening dress – you can never go wrong with a print like that!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      June 24, 2014 7:09 pm

      I just had to have the print no matter what type of fabric it was! It was a fun day – if they do it again next year maybe you could come!

  4. June 24, 2014 8:16 pm

    Your dresses are gorgeous, but my eyes nearly fell out when I saw the maxi dress – it’s fabulous!! The pattern matching on the bodice is great, and I had to really look to see the extra panel at the bottom. I think it looks like a deep hem. I am now about to google the pattern… 😉

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      June 24, 2014 8:24 pm

      Ah thank you Lynne! You’re right, the bottom panel does just look like a deep hem. In fact, I did a rolled hem at the bottom of the panel to preserve as much length as possible!

  5. June 25, 2014 6:50 pm

    SUCH a good night. Your dress was effortlessly chic. And sure you’ll wear it again with happy memories

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      June 25, 2014 10:21 pm

      Thanks Amy. Your dress was beautiful. I will definitely be wearing mine again!

  6. June 26, 2014 6:45 am

    Lovely write up, great photos and fabulous frocks!!! Great to meet you and spend time with you. How’s your bag coming along ?;-)

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      June 26, 2014 8:13 am

      Likewise! I haven’t worked on it at all since the day, so it’s still in its very early stages! How about yours?

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