Perth Frocktails Dress 2021

I wasn’t going to make a new dress for Perth Frocktails this year, but then Kathryn from Blooms Endless Summer gave me some fabric, so I did! The fabric came from the Fibres West Garage Sale and was a six metre length that kept sliding to the floor off the table and finished up being a bit of a heap on the table. I sold the fabric to Kathryn and was glad to see the back of it as I was sick of picking it up, but she kindly cut it into three sections and gave two metres each to Megan, Meggipeg and me, and kept two metres for herself. She used hers to make a Perth Frocktails outfit and I thought it would be fun to match.

I knew exactly the pattern to use – an unpublished pattern from Pattern Union. A long, capped sleeved, cowl necked dress. The cowl can be worn at the front or the back. The fabric had the perfect drape for this pattern.

I left it until three days before the event to cut out the pattern. I was under a bit of time pressure as I had a lot going on, so cut the pattern out prior to leaving the house for a Christmas function (yes, very early!).

There is probably a saying that goes “cut in haste, repent at leisure” because that was certainly the case here. One pattern piece had been carefully pinned up, and I knew that the dress was the correct length for me as I’ve worn Sarah’s version, so I went with the pinned up length, matching the other side. I didn’t bother with pattern matching, I decided that the fabric was too slippery to be fiddling around with.

I held it up to myself after cutting out (pity I didn’t hold up the pattern piece!) and saw that the dress was going to hit me at mid-calf level. This is quite a nice look on most people but it is not a look I can pull off.

I went off to my event considering my options, and decided that a wide band round the bottom and a side split might be a good solution.

I think I already mentioned the fact that this fabric is extremely slippery, and that band was quite challenging. It seemed like such a simple solution and I sewed it on, but the top and bottom layers slipped and the band was quite skewed. I unpicked it and tacked it on, but it still slipped. Another lot of unpicking and this time I used basting spray to stick the two layers together, which I then tacked on before sewing.

Not perfect, but good enough. I did take in the sides from the hips down, and now the dress is finished I feel as though I could have taken in more, but because of the band and the split, it just got too hard.

The rest of the dress was a reasonably easy sew.

I hand stitched down the sides of split, and also the binding round the sleeves. It needed a really good press with lots of steam to get the band to sit nicely.

The back view. The drape of the fabric means that the back is sagging a bit. I thought about using Sarah’s trick of installing a tape between the bottom of the drape and the centre back at the hips, but I didn’t really want to see stitching at the centre back. I figure that if I move around a lot, it might not be too noticeable.

It’s interesting that my dodgy fix band isn’t too obvious. As I was sewing it on I thought it would be fun to clean finish one side and have a side split on the dress. I basically eyeballed the height and was slightly horrified when I looked at these photos. That split is rather high!

So, ten minutes before I left home found me sewing up some of that split! A better person would have taken off the dress but I thought I could fix it easily without taking it off. Not quite true!

I haven’t yet got too many photos from the night because they were mostly taken by other people, but here is one of Kathryn and me wearing our matching fabrics. How good are her trousers?

I chose to wear my Salvatore Ferragamo shoes, which I’ve had for years. They are completely flat and extremely comfortable. Sarah took a photo of them so here it is. I love these shoes. The photo also shows the band better.

I decided to use my orange leather Japanese knot bag. These are the best bags for functions as the handle slips over your wrist, leaving hands free for food, drink, and hugging.

Some years ago I published the pattern for this bag. The link is provided here, should you decide you want to make one.

The reason I made this pattern is that all the patterns available have a straight loop, but I prefer the ones that have a kind of bent loop.

Apart from links to the pattern, I also hosted a sew along and the links are here:

Introduction to the sew along – this is the same link as the one above, but I thought it would be useful to keep the links together

Ready to Sew

Design modifications

A Plethora of Knot Bags – this is a roundup of all the bags made during the sew along, should you need ideas.

I’m waiting for the official photos of the night and might edit them into this post, but for now, here’s my dress and bag.


12 thoughts on “Perth Frocktails Dress 2021

  1. Oh wow, I put that fabric into the FW Garage Sale. Loved it but was never going to do anything with it. Very glad it ended up with you and others who’ve used it so well. Love the dress. Marilyn

  2. I love the dress, I love the fabric, I love the sewing story & I adore the picture of you finishing the dress, already on and a few minutes for leaving! All sewists can relate to this!

  3. Fabulous outfit! Fabric, dramatic split, and devine Ferragamos. (I once had a well-loved pair. Ahhh…) Thanks also for the knot bag information. I’ve got it on file now…just waiting for an occasion, lolol…

  4. The dress looks great and I think the border adds interest without being obvious- it weights it. It looks terrific with the shoes. Lovely trousers too. I have some burnout velvet of a similar slippiness- I think I might get made up for Xmas. However at my current glacial rate of sewing, who knows 😅. It looks like you had a terrific time and cheers up the general gloominess of winter here.

    1. Thank you so much Trish, the border did add a bit of weight – necessary with that split! It would be lovely to have burnout velvet for Christmas, we think lightweight fabrics here!

      1. I don’t think it’s much heavier than yours from the look of it. I’ll definitely need long sleeves! You’ve given me a push to think about it for Christmas anyway. I like the matching bag idea too.

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