Well, this time last week I was busily assembling lining pieces, hoping to get my coat finished in time for Frocktails. I can’t believe that it was a whole week ago – although I have the yellowing bruises on my shins from falling down the stairs on the way out to prove it (and no, I hadn’t overindulged in alcoholic beverages – those steps were just deadly)! So, what did I make and wear? I think that many of my blog readers may have spotted me on other blogs by now. Unfortunately lots of my photos didn’t work out well – the hazards of an ageing phone camera – but they still give you a good idea. I’ll start with my dress.
Now I have to say that I LOVE my dress and I LOVE the way that I look in it! No false modesty here! The pattern is from BurdaStyle and is described as “shift dress with slits”. It’s pattern #129 from the 02/2015 edition of the magazine, but I bought the pdf copy online here. The line drawing shows the style lines more clearly.
And here it is on the model:
I wonder if the colour of her dress subconsciously influenced my choice of fabric? I first came across the pattern on another blog, and thought that it would be a good option for me. It’s from Burda’s “women’s petite” range, so I didn’t have to make any of my usual short woman alterations. I chose the size based on finished bust measurement – I think I sewed size 19 but will need to double check that – it could have been size 20. The petite range are drafted for women between 160 and 167cm tall. I am 158cm, and think that it still worked quite well for me, especially in such a straight silhouette. There are some other versions of the same pattern in the BurdaStyle magazine and I think I might give them a try at some stage too.
The fabric is a double sided woven jacquard from Darn Cheap Fabrics. From memory it is polyester, but may have been a blend. It has loads of body and was very easy to sew, and is perfect for this style of dress. I took advantage of the interesting seaming to reverse the fabric for the angled panels at the front hem and on the sleeves. The lower hem slits and sleeve hem slits are formed by leaving that part of the seams unstitched then turning the grown-on facings to the inside.
I sewed the hems by hand. It really didn’t take long, and reminded me of the days when I first started sewing (a long time ago – I’ve been sewing garments since before I started high school) and all my hems were hand stitched. That was just the way it was done! I only swapped to machine sewn hems when I realised that everything in the shops had machine sewn hems and the world hadn’t collapsed as a result. And I knew it would be faster. But I digress.
This was a rather straightforward garment to sew, and I managed to finish it weeks ahead of deadline. Go me! But then I decided that since winter in Melbourne was super cold, I might need a coat to wear over it. If I had time. So I cut out McCalls 7493, a vintage pattern from 1965. Yes, the pattern is older than me.
This is a half-size pattern in size 18 1/2, which means that it was drafted for shorter women. Hooray! I still shortened it through the body length (I think a couple of inches) and half an inch or so through the sleeves. I have decided that I really like working with these older single sized patterns, especially with all the markings they contain and the printed tape measure at the shorten/lengthen here marks – they make alterations much faster and more consistent. It didn’t take long though before I hit a major snag. I cut into my fabric before checking that I had enough of it. And as it turns out, I didn’t have enough.
I contacted Darn Cheap Fabrics, where I’d bought the fabric a year or so ago, to see if they had any more. Sadly, they didn’t. I also put out a call for another metre on instagram, but with no success. So the only option was to use a contrast for the remaining pattern pieces, which were for the raglan sleeves. With only a week to go before Frocktails, I met Anna at Darn Cheap Fabrics and we foraged for a contrasting fabric that would “go”. And when your main fabric is a large-scale print of Australian birds and animals, finding something that will go with it can be quite a challenge! So we went all out with a statement choice, and this is how the coat ended up.
This fabric was a superb weight for a coat. It’s a poly/cotton/spandex blend, printed on a jacquard weave. So much to like about it! It was incredibly easy to work with. The sleeve fabric is a woven poly/spandex jacquard. I used it for the bound buttonholes as well as for the sleeves. The buttons came from Clear It, so I assume that they were used for the Alannah Hill range.
There were a number of hours that went into the making of this coat. The pattern was beautifully drafted, and everything fitted together perfectly. Facings and linings were the perfect length, as were interfacings that were cut and applied after some pieces had been joined together. I used fusible woven interfacings on the collar and facing pieces. I did manage to sew in my label (I plan to order new labels soon, as I don’t like the typeface of these ones and as a consequence tend to not use them) and add a ribbon hanging loop.
I need to rave about the collar a little bit. The under collar is cut on the bias, and the collar rolls beautifully and sits just as it should. With the lining, I feel as though I’ve made a quality garment. The lining was mostly bagged, but with a little hand stitching for those tricky corners where the front facings meet the hemline. It was easier and faster for me to do hand stitching for those than to alter the pattern pieces a little bit and work out the puzzle that eventuates. The lining fabric is a mid-weight satiny woven that Karen kindly gave me (she had a whole roll). The finished coat has a lovely heft to it.
For those who asked, the shoes are by Django & Juliette, and the beaded bag was bought last time I was in Bali. So, how WAS Frocktails?
Over 50 women ranging in age from twenties to over fifties, all who love to sew. Despite the relative dim lighting, we all managed to ooh and aah over one another’s clothes, recognising fabrics and patterns (or learning about fabrics and patterns) and even sometimes getting the chance to touch and stroke them (the fabrics that is)! I was able to chat to women I already knew and women I didn’t, and to finally meet many who I felt as though I knew already (thanks to their blogs and instagram). The evening flew past and I didn’t get the chance to chat to everyone I would have liked to. I can’t remember the last time I caught a taxi home after 1.00am….
Huge thanks go to Kat who organised the evening. There is a great deal of work involved in running something like Frocktails, especially as it ended up having a number of ancillary events like fabric shopping trips, brunches and dinners on other surrounding days. And everyone? It was fantastic to see you in your wonderful garments. There are some recaps and more photos from the night here and here and here (lots of photos on that last one!). Looking forward to the next!