Frugal Frocks and other challenges

Frugal frocks has been underway in March and the big reveal is today, so I thought I’d better get my entry formalised with a blog post.

It’s being run by @frugalisima and @theyorkshiresewgirl on Instagram, and the rules are as follows:

  • choose a free dress pattern
  • choose fabric from your stash
  • make your dress in the month of march
  • reveal your dress on 31 March

I decided to use Pattern Unions Maisie DIY drawstring dress which is a free set of instructions to draft your pattern according to your own measurements. I had a big pile of silk scraps in my stash that I have long wanted to patchwork together and make something wearable. I chose the Maisie dress as It is a really simple shape, with no darts to worry about.

I’m not very good at patchwork so I decided I would make a collection of 12″ square blocks as I have a quilting ruler that size and it limited the amount of trouble I could get into.

The silks here are from a variety of sources, including donations, scraps from makes and hanging over the box is a silk tie that Mark used to wear to work when he was feeling frivolous.

There’s not much else to the story. I used six of my blocks per side, using the bodice of the Maisie dress and widening it out into a basic A-line shape. I had originally planned to finish the neck and arms with bias binding but felt that the dress needed to be lined, so found some vintage minty green fine cotton that had been donated to my stash and used that to line the dress. It needs to be said here that I didn’t finish any of the seams, I am not sure why, but I felt that the lining would protect them.

Silk frays a fair bit and I began to get anxious about those raw edges so I tried pinking them, but they just looked a bit chewed so I went back in and overlocked what I could, blanket stitching by hand the parts that were hard to get at.

There are some quirky little bits; some of these silks are from samples and they had printing on them, and where it wasn’t ugly I kept it.

I really like this dress, it’s easy to wear and looks and feels quite special.

The front and back look quite different, I tried to mix up the blocks but I kept rearranging them this way so finally just went with it.

I began the process with a full box of silk scraps and somehow I ended the process with a full box of silk scraps. Explain to me how that works!

I wore the dress to Sarah’s studio, and some of you eagle eyed readers spotted it.

It was so lovely to wear, even if I was completely confounded by the dress I was making!

This dress also qualifies for the Make a Garment a Month challenge (Multi-March theme), the Sewover50 pattern mixing challenge, the MyMakesFortheMonth, and SewHappyColor2021 (pick any colour, but I went with violet) all of which are also on Instagram. Five challenges busted is always pleasing.

So that’s my entry for Frugal Frocks 2021. Thank you to Sam, @Frugalisima and Ruan @theyorkshiresewgirl for hosting.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say that there’s actually no such thing as a free pattern – it’s just that the designer bears the cost, not the consumer. I have a bit of an issue with this – I wouldn’t have wanted to work for nothing, so I don’t really like to take advantage of a designer, who probably offers free patterns so we can try them out and perhaps help them build a market base. A really good post to read is that by Just Patterns, who has written a post about her income and expenditure as a pattern designer. This is fascinating reading and gives a really good perspective on the costs incurred for designers. Whilst I’m always happy to use a pattern I receive for free, I always try to go back and buy a pattern from the same designer so that there is some form of recompense for them.


17 thoughts on “Frugal Frocks and other challenges

  1. Scrappy projects are always so much fun. I love the final result of your result. Really, it is a wonder the scrap box didn’t actually get fuller during the process…scraps have a way of multiplying.

    I like your discussion of “free” patterns. We have to keep supporting designers or they will cease to exist and then we will be sad.

    1. Thank you Katherine! I actually feel really conflicted about free patterns. Sarah tells me how disheartening it is when people grab her free patterns and never return. I wouldn’t work for nothing and don’t see why designers should have to. We shall continue the discussion over coffee!

  2. Amazing dress and it looks just right on you. I hear what you say about using scraps up – I’m sure they procreate overnight 🙂 – I never seem to get through my stash. (Have mainly been quilting for a number of years but would love to get back into dressmaking).

  3. What a great project! The frock is lovely and distinctive. Furthermore, it says ‘patchwork’ without looking like repurposed quilt blocks. I like your viewpoint of ‘free’ patterns too.

  4. I agree with your sentiments about free patterns. I suppose they are a gift from the designer who may or may not already be making a good income from their work but they have required effort on their part to create them.

    1. Thank you. I know a designer and she barely makes minimum wage. She does like to have free patterns so people can check her out but does get disheartened by the “grab the free stuff” mentality.

  5. Interesting how the silks scraps have multiplied as I really like the way you have used the squares to make your dress. I agree with your comments about free patterns, they aren’t for the designer.

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