Tuesday, 20 February 2018
The Frocktails Flare Dress
Last Saturday was Sydney's Frocktails for 2018, where we sewists get together to have some fun, meet the person behind the Instagram handle, talk about fabrics, and have an excuse to make something fun and fancy to wear. This dress is the Loose Flare Drape Dress, pattern 11 in Drape Drape. Although a modern pattern, the tent dress shape gives it more of a 1960s feel.
For Frocktails this year I wasn't sure at all what I wanted to make, so I put it in the hands of the Instagram sewing community. I grabbed a pile of fabric options out of the drawers and draped them over my dressmaker's dummy, took pictures, and asked for advice. There wasn't a clear winner, and every option got at least one vote, but this fabric got the most early support. I really had no idea what to make with it and honestly didn't think I'd find anything, but thought I'd look through my patterns anyway. I saw the loose flare pattern in Drape Drape and thought it might work, so posted a picture of it. Everyone told me to go for it, and I din't have any other ideas. So basically this dress wasn't so much a planned outfit as a "well maybe this will work" creation. I think it worked.
This is a wonderful pattern, if slightly lacking in instructions. There's succinct and then there's cryptic, and the instructions for this dress slip towards the latter. There's little detail in some of the steps, and even with the pictures it wasn't always completely clear what to do - particularly with how to make sure the flare piece doesn't get caught between the lining. I also cut it out mirror imaged, because for some reason the pattern was meant to be cut out on the right side of the fabric instead of the reverse as is the norm with most patterns, but wasn't labeled. However this doesn't make any real difference to the final product.
The measurements on Japanese patterns are often a bit tricky. For this book I'm the height of the extra large, but the rest of my measurements match the small. To deal with this I used extended the small size pieces to the length of the extra large when tracing them out. Because of the large size of the pattern pieces the fabric was a tiny bit smaller than it should have been to fit all pieces on in line with the grain. Had it been 10cm wider or longer it would all have fit correctly, but as it was I had to slightly angle the front drape piece to be able to fit the back on. And in the end my pattern plancement matched the flare exactly to the front piece. Got to love those inadvertent perfect placements!
I had a few people at Frocktails ask if the fabric was a silk. In fact, the fabric is a polyester crepe bought in Cabramatta for $7 a metre. Despite being so cheap and being polyester it's actually a fantastic fabric. It has excellent drape, feels lovely and soft and the colours of the digital print are wonderfully bright. The lining was from an op shop, and cost about $1 for several metres, so this dress is very cheap but doesn't look it.
I also made the ridiculous decision at 3pm on the day of Frocktails to make a clutch purse. I'd been planning to take a black clutch I own, but could not find it and didn't think any of my other bags suited my dress. I knew I had some (cheap and crappy) faux leather, so I did a quick Google to look for a simple and fast bag pattern. I found this one which involves no sewing, just glue. Although I did add a line of stitching in part to ensure the fabric and faux leather didn't come apart. I also had enough scrap fabric left to use to line the bag, and added a vintage button from my collection inherited from my grandma. I don't think the glue was completely dry when I left home, but the bag turned out as well as could be for making it at such short notice.
I'm really happy with how both the dress and bag turned out, and it's always nice to catch up with the sewing community. Sitting at a sewing machine is very solitary, so catching up with other sewists is always good. And who doesn't love a good excuse to wear something fun?