Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Last minute cocktail dress

I was packing away my summer clothes on the weekend now that our weather has finally cooled down, and I came across a cocktail dress I made for the Sydney Frocktails back in February. I wanted to post it because honestly this fabric is just sumptuous and I think the dress looks fab.


I bought this fabric from a high end fabric store in Sydney during their closing down sale late last year - at 50% off this fabric was still $80/m so it's definitely one of the more expensive fabrics I've bought. But it's worth it because it's so beautiful. It's a dark navy blue silk/wool blend in a crinkle texture, with metallic gold and bronze flowers woven in to the fabric with a very soft hand and luxurious sheen to it.


Because the fabric is the real star here, I wanted to keep the dress shape quite simple. Reaching far back into my Burda archives I chose this vintage cocktail dress from the November 2007 issue (11/2007 #125):

I really wanted to do a full skirt, but because this fabric was so expensive and at the time I bought it I didn't have a specific pattern in mind I just didn't haven't enough fabric. Wah! Why didn't I spend just that little bit extra at the time? So I swapped out the pleated skirt for a fitted pencil skirt (just franken-patterned the skirt pattern from my beloved New Look 6968) and it worked just fine.


As with nearly all of my projects made for a specific occasion, this was rushed at the last minute and I took some regrettable short-cuts. I made this the weekend before Frocktails, which was also the weekend before I spent the whole week at Susan Khaljie's French jacket course, so I had no time for a muslin. The bodice turned out a little too tight, so I had to let out the seams and the darts a little to make it fit which was annoying because the original sewing lines didn't really press out properly. Thankfully the fabric is quite dark so it's not too noticeable but if I had made a muslin I could have avoided it.

While I was sewing it, I just knew I should have underlined the fabric with organza because the fabric had a lot of stretch. But because I didn't have any organza, I just forged ahead instead of going to buy some which I totally regret. The fabric 'grew' after wearing it for a while, and the neckline, which is already quite wide, stretched out and kept slipping off my shoulders. That also meant the pleats on the shoulder aren't very noticeable and the sleeves sit quite awkwardly:


The funny thing is I received many compliments on the night about the neckline, and I suppose it did showcase my very inexpensive costume jewellery quite well!

I do like the low v-neck at the back neckline too - it really suits the overall style of the dress:


The interesting thing about this pattern is the diamond shaped gussets in the armpit, which forms the underpart of the sleeve. These aren't very common in patterns these days, and of course Burda's instructions left me scratching my head. Thankfully, Sheryll over at Pattern Scissors Cloth has made this dress in 2011 and posted a series of detailed posts which were very helpful in figuring out how to sew this dress.

Aside from those gussets, the rest of the dress was really easy to make. In fact the hardest part was trying to press the seams without flattening the fabric too much, I ended up using lots of steam and just finger pressing the seams because the iron on the fabric removed that lovely crinkly texture.

For the night I went all out on the gold - gold high heeled sandals, a gold belt, a gold clutch purse and of course those gold earrings & necklace. I'm not usually one to go over the top on accessories but it was a special night so I figured why not?


The night itself was fantastic - a room full of fellow sewers, cocktails in hand, fondling fabric and talking about sewing. It got pretty loud but it was loads of fun, especially meeting people in real life that I've been following through their blogs or instagram. Caz over at UsefulBox did an amazing job of not only organising the night but also assembling a huge amount of lucky door prizes. Her lovely husband even took amazing photos of us all on the night, including this one of me below (before I had too many drinks!)

image via UsefulBox.com

So it's because I love this dress so much, that I'm going to carefully unpick the seams and make it properly. This means steaming the fabric to make it shrink back to the original size, underlining the dress with silk organza and lining the dress. And then I'm going to make my husband to take me out to a fancy cocktail bar in the city so I have another excuse to wear it again because I know that for next year's Frocktails I'll probably make another last minute dress and I don't want this lovely dress to sit unworn in the cupboard!



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