Friday, 26 May 2017

Frocktails Sydney: Dark Floral Vogue 1228

Frocktails always feels to me like an opportunity - and close to an obligation even - to make a new dress. So although I'd made a formal dress (not blogged, barely worn) late last year for Melbourne Frocktails, Sydney Frocktails called for something new.

Plan A was another formal dress in a divine duchesse satin layered with tulle and boning and organza and lining (hmm sounding a bit like my Melbourne frocktails dress...), but the pattern I had lined up for all these materials was the wrong size. Cold feet and procrastination ensued - I will make this dress another time though. 

Plan B was to make something quick, with fabric from the stash, and using a pattern I'd used before - learning from Blogless Anna, who always rocks up to the Melbourne Frocktails in simple, elegant garments made impeccably from beautiful fabrics. 

Here it is then: Vogue 1228 (previously blogged here, in what I admit was NOT a particularly useful review), sewn from a small length of gorgeous fabric from The Fabric Store that I'd previously earmarked for a mildly flared midi skirt:

Apologies for blending into the background in so many of these pictures (but that's introverts for you, right?) - I don't know when I'm going to have the free time to re-take them, so I hope they're good enough for you to see where the dress starts and ends.

This Vena Cava pattern is rated easy in the Vogue rating system, and is definitely rated correctly. Mind you, Vogue's "easy" is not the same as Simplicity's "easy" - there are still some interesting techniques going on! This pattern is described as follows on the envelope:

"Close-fitting (through bustline), above mid-knee length dress has front and back stitched pleats, kimono sleeves with sleeve band and narrow tabs, stitched facing at neckline, invisible side zipper, very narrow hem at lower edge."

Between making the dress way back when and now I misplaced a crucial page of instructions (yes, the page that tells you how to make the front and back stitched pleats and how to then finish the front neckline without showing the pleat), but luckily for me another blogger had documented these exact steps in her review

I found the fit to be consistent with other Vogue patterns I've made before, but if you do sew this up, as usual, I'd recommend measuring the pattern pieces. On me the dress is a little close fitting through the hips because I just assumed I could still wear the size I'd cut out last time :(.

Sadly the pattern is way, way OOP, but there look to be lots available on eBay and etsy. 

This heavenly fabric is from The Fabric Store, though they don't have it in stock anymore. It has a lot of body, which I love in the sleeves of this dress. Although the right side of the fabric is very dark with a lovely sheen, the underside is a pale grey and matte. I don't recall the fabric composition but perhaps it's a viscose-silk blend?  It's beautiful up close but the right side is quite fragile; I ended up snagging the dress on the sequins of my handbag while we were out.

The handbag - which I didn't make, though it'd be an easy sew - is another story.  Those big sequins show different colours when you flip them, which made for lots of fun with certain cheeky people writing messages on my bag while I wasn't looking :). Let's just say I wouldn't be surprised if Christy made a bag just like this one day...

Having made the dress before I knew I could skip the side zipper (one benefit of being slightly pear shaped!). 

I also knew the neckline was a problem - as drafted, the neckline is quite low. This is a problem on me because the square shape is also quite wide, and the corners of the neckline end up showing a triangle of bra cup on each side. Obviously this is not going to be an issue for people with a lower set bust, but I needed to either raise or change the shape of the neckline to remedy this issue. If I'd raised the neckline, this would have raised the point where the bust pleats release, and I felt those pleats need to be quite high to do their job. So my solution was to narrow the neckline by a centimetre all the way around (back and front) and then also to taper the sides of the square inwards from the shoulder line to the lowest point on the bust, changing the shape from square to isosceles trapezoidal (I love a bit of geometry in sewing!).

Fabric limitations brought the hemline up several inches, but I was then able to make up some of this length with a hem band sewn from fabric cut on the cross grain (and it doesn't hang quite right, but since this dress is generally worn in the evenings I don't think this is very noticeable). 

And instead of making tabs to hold the sleeve bands folded over I used small, invisible hand stitching to hold the bands in a permanent fold.

Yay or Nay?
This dress is definitely a "yay" dress!

Give the fancy fabric I thought this dress would end up languishing in my wardrobe with all the other fancy dresses, but it's had heaps of wear - I don't go out much, but this dress has still managed about half a dozen outings over the last couple of months!  I'll have to remember this for future dresses: a simple design makes for a more adaptable dress than a complex one.

This particular dress shape is also perfect for running down the street, catching the train, playing with the pup... it's not voluminous, but there's enough width in the skirt for lots of motion. Alternatively you can pretend you're running for a train while your pup lies around in the grass:

And the frocktails event itself? Well, it was every bit as fabulous as you might imagine :).  The venue was cool, the cocktails and snacks were delicious, there was a surfeit of frock inspiration, and too TOO many people to chat with - locals, Queenslanders, Canberrans, Melbournites - these events always go too quickly!  You can see lots of portraits from the night on Caroline's Instagram feed (thank you Mr Usefulbox for this lovely photo of me!), and you can read Caz's wrap-up blog post here.

I'm already looking forward to the next frocktails, and if you're even slightly tempted, I'd encourage you to come along too! see you soon

- Gabrielle xx

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