Monday 24 April 2023

Melbourne Frocktails 2022

I'm already starting into planning mode for this year's Melbourne Frocktails and I realise I still haven't shared what I made for Frocktails 2022. I didn't get great photos so maybe that's why I've stalled.

After missing out on having a Frocktails in 2020 and 2021 we didn't want to wait until spring of '22 so we brought it forward and went with a winter date. It was fun to be thinking of sewing for a different season.

My first thought, and what I stuck with, was a full, brown silk skirt and a simple bodysuit on top. A simple outfit, but buckle up, it could be a long blog post....

Can I even remember what I did?
Let's start with the skirt. That was always meant to be the main feature. The brown silk was bought on sale from Draper's Fabrics long before anything else and I think I guessed at 5m knowing it was going to be a big skirt.

The pattern choices came down to one or two different Vogue patterns that I found (and bought) and I ended up plumping for Vogue 8980 (shown variously with a designer Vogue style pattern cover or the Very easy Very Vogue style line drawings.) I went with the full, hi-lo hemmed skirt (view C) and the pleated waistband of view B. 

I've got no idea what size it ended up being. Since the waistband was the only thing that had to fit it didn't seem all that important. I suspect I started with the size 16 (a smidge smaller than what my waist was measuring) but by the time the skirt was attached to the waistband it was obviously far too small. I must have assumed the "normal" amount of crazy positive ease built into some commercial patterns. Well not this one.

I unpicked everything and let out all the skirt pleats and cut a new waistband but then I was panicked that it was now feeling too loose. I decided to hang it in the closet for a month and work on the bodysuit and maybe eat more cake!

The bodysuit is based on the Jalie leotard 3136. I liked the wide bateau neckline. The challenge was keeping the shaping that is created by the horizontal seams that sperate the yoke/chest sections from the waist sections, while getting rid of the seam itself. I could also raise the back neckline up to a standard eight as I was adding crotch snaps so I didn't need to get into it through the neckhole as one might with a normal leotard. - If I'm going to drink cocktails all night I'm going to need to use the bathroom! (and you do not want to see my try to climb out a neckhole after too many drinks)

The beige/gold sparkly knit came from Fabric deluxe and was exactly what I was after. There was a lot of pattern tweaking and at least one muslin until I eventually got what I wanted. Then I freaked out about nipples. If I had to choose between only two scenarios, one being visible back-fat bra strap lines and the other being visible nipples, I'd go seventies child and free the nips every time. 

However, neither of those scenarios seemed appropriate for a potentially cold, but definitely fancy soiree. My "solution" which I'm still very unconvinced by was to add some foam bra cups into the lining of the bodysuit.

I think they've ended up being far too molded and "booby" looking for my tastes and I've been very tempted to go back and take them out. But now that I look at that picture above I'm reminded that they're sewn in-between two layers of lining at the front, and once I'd attached the sleeves all access was lost. They did solve the no bra lines/no nipples dilemma, but I was aware that during the evening I felt like the bra cups were heading neckwards as if to strangle me, as my boobs tried to leave the party exiting downwards. Sigh.

The happy distraction from all this garment sewing drama was doing a Vogue Knitting Live course to learn tubular bead crochet with Florence Spurling. Due to time zones (and living at the arse end of the world) it was a 2am session for me, but what better time to learn a new craft?!

I bought the recommended bigger, learner beads and made a not too shabby necklace (I think there's a picture of that in yet another unblogged garment photo for another day). I tried them as hoop earrings but the weight was crazy and I felt like my ears would be sliced up in no time.

Never one to shy from a challenge I bought the much tinier, advanced level beads and set to work crocheting some tubular beads to slip over a plain metal earring hoop. I'm really proud of how these turned out. There's a dorky looking but super useful bit of free software called J-Bead which allows you to design the pattern you want and then it calculates the threading order and how many beads of each colour you need. Cool.

There's no denying this was crazy fiddly work, but once the beads are all threaded correctly and the first round is done it's actually not so hard. I think I used five different shades of beads from the deepest brown through to a very light metallic champagne colour.

As I was trying to take selfies of my earrings, Flipper was taking photos of me and ended up with this cute camera film style image

By this time I was ready to go back and face the skirt again. I finished the waistband and it fit just fine - I hadn't changed physically I think I'd just needed to walk away from it mentally. Anyway we were reconciled. I'll admit to being far too lazy to hand hem the skirt, and I was also loathe, without any help, to try and trim it level due to the drop of the bias sections. You can scroll back up to the first pictures and yell at me again to "trim the hem to account for the bias!!". It needed it.

I used the rolled hem foot attachment on the sewing machine and just went at that hem like a lady who'd stopped caring. All EIGHT metres of it. Seriously. ( I measured the hem the day after Frocktails and came up with 8m of hem and no fewer than 5 spilt cocktails stains :) )

So, last minute, I decided I need a short jacket. I traced off as many short jacket patterns as I owned and tried to fit them onto as many small bits of appropriate fabrics as I could find in the stash. The only match, and quite a pleasing one was this:

The main fabric would have been too shifty to use on its own so I underlined it with a beige cotton drill. And then I did want I've always sworn not to do: stayed up past midnight sewing bias binding on seams to finish them.

Of course it was only worn to and from the venue, and apart from trying it on in my bedroom I don't have any good photos of it. The jacket made it, just, into the annual bedtime bathroom mirror selfie

This year, 2023, will be the 10th anniversary for Melbourne Frocktails. Are you coming? 


  1. I love the story behind your outfit. Got to love a big skirt.

  2. Just gorgeous! Skirt, bodysuit, earrings, Yanaka jacket. Great job!

  3. You looked fabulous and that was fun to read


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