Thursday 14 November 2019

Melbourne Frocktails 2019 - The String Edition

Melbourne Frocktails. That annual event where clever people from all walks of life outfit themselves in something they've made themselves and then turn up for cocktails, canapes and chat.

It always seems the perfect excuse to go all out and try something a bit different. And so I did....

With my "experience" of a couple of baskets, one hat and one scarf, I decided I could crochet a dress.

I never would have though to do that, except that I found a giant cone of Italian viscose tubular knit yarn for sale on String Harvest's Instagram outlet site. It seemed too good to pass up and once it arrived it was obviously way more than I'd ever need for a string market bag*

* although I have made one out of the leftovers - yet to be photographed

I found a free pattern online called Grace in Lace by Drops Design, which is the pattern arm of Garn Studio who sell yarn. I swatched my yarn and from memory I went down a half a hook size and it was pretty close to correct. I made a size smaller than I measured as I think the swatch was still fractionally bigger than intended.

If I'm sounding vague it's because I made the dress during winter. I would often find myself sitting up watching the European cycling on the TV late into the night anyway, and it was easy to be doing something with my hands. How long did it take? Certainly all of the Tour de France, and possibly most of the Vuelta a Espana as well.

I followed the pattern dutifully until I was below the part where the sleeves would later attach. Then I made my own increases and decreases, trying it on every few rounds. I wanted it to be tighter and more sheath fitted than the original pattern which is almost A line.

I also added more length in the mid body section so that my waist line detail was actually at my waist (it's quite high on the pattern) - I later discovered the downside of this was that I couldn't wear hold-'em-in nanna pants underneath as they'd show through. Rightly or wrongly I also decided to forego a bra. With not much underneath and Melbourne plunging us back into cold weather I was grateful for the venue having heating and awnings to keep the wind out!

Not owing a nude coloured shoe I decided that if my dress was $35 worth of string, my shoes could be a treat. I found these Charlotte Olympia shoes at the Luisa outlet and they are something else. I've nicknamed them my measles shoes as they're covered in spots and the heels are sharp enough to vaccinate someone.

And then, when I was visiting one of our event Sponsors, Torb & Reiner, I found this equally pockmarked piece of leather and decided I had to have it to make an Ida clutch (free pattern from Kylie and the Machine)

Back when Kylie was finishing up with selling kits to go with the clutch pattern I cleaned up on a sale of the hardware. Happily, I had the tan zipper, the D ring and clip and the tassel maker thingy all in my stash.

To complete the theme of everything beige to go with my green dress, I even found some little stone earrings at a shop in the city on the Saturday afternoon just hours before Frocktails.

So, you could be mistaken for thinking the only sewing I did for Frocktails this year was a small, leather purse....

Did you see the shirt that our photographer (my friend JB) was wearing in the first picture? Well I made three of those!

Lisa (my co-organiser and preserver of sanity) and I decided that we needed assistants for the door this year. Someone to help with checking in tickets and drawing prizes and then handing out the stash bags at the end. Lisa was suggesting some discounted tickets to people who wanted to come, but I thought we needed totally disinterested parties who did not want to be there! that way they wouldn't get distracted by old friends, pretty dresses or sewing chat. they'd just do their job... Who better than husbands! Meet our doormen for Frocktails 2019!

We convinced out own fellas and one other mutual friend (who's partner was going to be attending anyway) to be our doormen. Lisa's man prefers a fitted T-shirt (for obvious reasons!) to a shirt, so she made his top. I sewed three shirts: two for the doormen and one for the photographer.

We had the fabric printed by Next State Print, also one of our sponsors, and it's a cute little detail of our logo on a grey background. I used the Liesl & Co All Day Shirt and made Flipper (left of pic) his usual size L and the other two a size M.

It was quite a job keeping all three piles of shirt bits separate so that I didn't sew a L collar into a M neckline. I work on a square dining table. One place was my machine and the other three seats were for each shirt. I would work around the table doing the same step to each shirt before moving on. By the time I came to sew all 36 buttonholes and buttons my machine finally blew a fuse and died and the last 5 buttons were sewn on by hand!

I bought some extra Kylie and the Machine labels to sew into the guy's shirts!

While I was waiting for the fabric to be printed, and so that I wouldn't start second guessing the crochet dress, I also made Flipper a pair of trousers. They're a mystery wool blend from a local Vietnamese fabric shop.

The pattern is the same Jutland pants I'd previously made in a drill and this time I thought I'd line them. Something went disastrously wrong and they were way too small. He literally wore the drill ones to work and then came home and couldn't squeeze into these. I've no idea.

Anyway I took the lining out and then used every bit of seam allowance left to make them bigger. I also ended up stitching the front pockets closed as they were tending to gape. I'm less enamoured of the pattern as the instructions for lining and the zipper fly was disappointing. It would have you baste the lining to the trousers and then construct the fly - but that means all that ugly fly flap construction ends up visible. I pulled out the Liesl & Co Hollywood Trousers for the perfect lining/fly instructions (but then had to pull all the lining out anyway)

I also feel that the pockets need some kind of pocket stay that anchors them to the midline fly section so there's no tension on the pocket opening. Either that, or I needed about three sizes bigger! :)

All that said, how gorgeous do these guys look!

I think they had fun, and having them there made the evening so much easier for Lisa and I. Although, with 150 guests I still don't feel like I managed to chat to even a tiny portion of the crowd, and those I did chat to I was so busy talking I failed to notice their outfits. I'm only now catching up through all the pictures I'm seeing on the #melbournefrocktails Instagram page. Thank heavens for our photographer!

And then the guests arrived! There are so many wonderful photos, but similar to last year there were lots of lovely blue/greens, so we all piled in for a picture. The backdrop at the Hophaus bar was just too good!