Club Tropicana drinks are free; fun and sunshine, there’s enough for everyone …
I haven’t managed to get Wham out of my head since finishing this dress! After the success of last year’s Big Vintage Sewalong, I was delighted to be asked to take part in the Cocktail Hour blog series, once again raising money for the Eve Appeal. The Eve Appeal is a charity raising awareness of, and funding research into, the five gynaecological cancers, and every Cocktail Hour pattern purchased this year sees a donation going directly to the Appeal. Making a cocktail dress (and a cocktail!) for a good cause? No need to ask twice.
Out of the 20 patterns to choose from, one jumped out at me from the get-go: Zandra Rhodes’ Vogue 1484. It just looks so fun! It’s quite funny really that of all the patterns on offer it’s the closest in design to the vintage pattern I selected for last year’s sewalong; I clearly have a narrower taste spectrum than I usually imagine. I adore the organza yoke with its cute little pointed collar and unusual armhole and sleeve bindings, and that pointed skirt hem.
The dress requires up to four different fabrics – two for the contrasting body panels, another for the collar and sleeve bindings and finally an organza for the bodice yoke and sleeves. I spent weeks scratching my head over fabric choices, initially considering satins, dupions and brocades. But none of these offered complementary prints and plains. I was at my wit’s end when John Lewis of all places came to the rescue with this sensational John Kaldor printed cotton. Brocade-brain that I have, I hadn’t even considered cotton. But as soon as I saw this, and the rows of plain cottons close by, I knew I had my fabrics. I was especially pleased as obviously Zandra Rhodes is ALL about the bright colours!
I have a bit of a thing for underlining at the moment, and so to give the soft cottons some body I underlined all the dress panels with a plain white cotton. This is obviously a hot weather outfit, so to keep things cool and breathable the dress is lined in cotton voile. London has turned on the sunshine these past few days so I’m currently feeling pretty smug: I have made something I can wear RIGHT NOW. At least until normal UK weather service resumes.
The organza is a nude poly from the Tooting Craft Superstore. I have to admit I was momentarily surprised that the instruction booklet provides no advice on stitching and stabilising the organza, particularly around the zip – I guess I’ve been spoilt by all the hand-holding offered by the indies! Anyway I tried to strengthen the zip area with slender strips from the organza selvage.
I also found the sizing rather off on this pattern. I’ve put on a bit of weight lately so was careful to grade and cut the sizes that the finished measurements indicated I should fit, namely a size 12 at the bust graded down to a 10 elsewhere. (The sizing chart itself put me in the 12–14 range.) I toiled and hey ho, whaddya know: one pretty capacious muslin. So I decided to go with a straight size 10 overall and take in the seams where needed. I shortened the dress along the shorten lines but the yoke was still far too long (or deep?) – I took probably an inch off the base of the yoke just to ensure the main bodice sits high enough to cover a bra(!). This inevitably shrunk the armholes but (and I don’t have small arms) without any problematic consequences; I simply had to ease a little additional fullness in the sleeve heads. The size 10 now fits nicely but is far from snug; I could/should probably have graded down to a size 8 or even 6 at the waist, where there’s still plenty of ease.
I know I’ve written about this before but I find it intriguing how I see myself drawn to muted tonal outfits on other women, and then keep returning to wild brights when choosing for myself. Why is it that we generally associate neutral colours with maturity and sophistication? Am I just not ‘growing up’? (My intense feelings about small animals, celebrity crushes, inability to look at my bank balance without a buddy present, and basically entire inner monologue would suggest YES.) Will I ever switch out hot pink for ‘champagne’ and ‘camel’? Will I EVER say no to a cocktail?
Anyway… If you would like to win a copy of Vogue 1484 all you need to do is leave a comment below! I’ll close the competition at midday on Friday 2nd June, and announce the randomly picked winner then. It’s a fantastic design that I think will make a fantastic winter dress too… And don’t forget that we’re only halfway through this fabulous vodka-fuelled sewalong, so keep your eyes peeled for #sipandsew posts and the following bloggers:
10. Jen Sanders, Gingerella
11. Charlotte Powell, English Girl at Home
12. Elisalex de Castro Peake, By Hand London
13. Kerry Patterson, Kestrel Makes
14. Gabby Young, Gabberdashery
15. Abigail Norton, Sew Abigail
16. Karen Ball,Did You Make That?
17. Rachel Wain, Rach Against The Sewing Machine
18. Elle Harris, Sew Positivity
19. Rachel Pinheiro, House of Pinheiro
20. Amy Thomas, Almond Rock
21. Jane Marland, Handmade Jane
22. Jennifer Walker, Ginger Thread Girl
23. Marie Koupparis, A Stitching Odyssey
24. Elena Rosa Brown, Randomly Happy
25. Laura Clarke, Sew for Victory
26. Janene Spencer, Ooobop
And on a final note, the cocktail
really does taste yummy. I had two, just to help with the, ahem, ‘modelling… By the end my cheeks were starting to match my collar! x