Frocktails: Flora Dress in Vintage Velvet and Silk

Frocktails Dress at Brooklyn Arts Hotel

Frocktails Dress at Brooklyn Arts Hotel

I went to Melbourne Frocktails. I did, it’s true! I was a little surprised myself. I’m of the habit of signing up to things I’ve not really looked into or know anyone who is going. Still I’m yet to attend a random event I’ve signed up for and have anything but a wonderful time. I haven’t been able to do any night events for some time because of the ME/CFS, but with recent improvements, I made it. I’m going to give myself a hooray for that success. Pleased with self!

Frocktails: All Laid Out and Ready to Go.

Frocktails: All Laid Out and Ready to Go. That Sounds Quite Rude. Promise It Was Just the Dress!

I was lucky to procure a ticket for Frocktails and as it got closer to the date I began to realise I knew a number of these talented seamstresses through Instagram and I’ve had sewing and movie dates with two in real life! So that put me at ease a little. Internet dating with seamstresses!

Flora Dress Insides

Flora Dress Insides

The talented Kat from All the Whimsical Things organised the event, and she was well deserving of flowers, cocktails and fabric for her wonderful efforts in organising such a special event.

Brooklyn Arts Hotel

Brooklyn Arts Hotel

I stayed at Brooklyn Arts Hotel which is my home away from home when I’m in Melbourne. All the staff know me (yes, my reputation and sewing proceeds me) and it’s always like returning to my favourite miniature castle where there is endless tea, toast and chatter if you are so inclined. They are always happy to oblige me when I get stuck in my dress with my zip and can’t wiggle my way out. Which happened when I got back from Frocktails and thought I’d have to sleep in my dress. And also the day before…

Now let’s move onto some  pictures of Flora, taken at St Peter’s and St Paul’s Catholic church on Saturday. I love churches.

The pictures are mixed in with some construction notes and wind swept hair.

The dress I made is the Flora from By Hand London. I purchased this velvet from Jen at A Piece of Cloth a number of years ago and it’s been sitting out of the stash and wrapped in tissue with its own shelf, it was so precious.

Flora Dress

Flora Dress

The story behind the fabric was it was purchased from Liberty of London, around 50-60 years ago. Not a Liberty fabric per se, however another line they were selling at the time. It was in perfect condition, and had the most gorgeous nap to pet.

Flora Dress

Flora Dress

With the help of Rennae from winding_bobbin and her cutting table, it took around three hours to lay out. The skirt is quite voluminous and needed to be cut on the bias to get the full length, to which I’d added an additional 15cm all round. I’m shy about my knees. I also used a beautiful silk satin from Joys Fabric Warehouse which I was able to cut on grain for the skirt lining and a black silk twill for the bodice.

Flora Twirls

Flora Twirls

I took my time, making a toile with curtain fabric which actually looked ok (!), completed a small bust adjustment to remove the fabric underneath these small beeewbs of mine, and added the 3cm length to the middle of the bodice.

Flora Dress With SBA Toile

Flora Dress With SBA Toile

I then waited at least three weeks to cut into the fabric proper to make sure that I was sure. Which I was, just needed to make sure.

Flora Dress Progress

Flora Dress Progress

Everything was hand basted before being stitched on the machine. I love hand basting. I loved making this dress. Whilst it’s not really time efficient for most of my projects, I shall be doing more as I start to explore all the silks, satins and laces. Must start saving for that…

Flora Dress

Flora Dress with Memorial to the Churches Reverend

I can recommend using a roller foot to sew the velvet. I did a significant amount of research about sewing velvet and whilst many recommend using a walking foot, my local dealer of habby and notions, Heights Sewing Centre, suggested using a roller foot. It was 1/6th of the price and didn’t leave a mark on the velvet at all. Most happy. I thought cutting the skirt on the bias would cause all sorts of drama, but after a week it didn’t drop a centimetre, (although the same could not be said for the silk…).

Curls and Flower Crowns

Curls and Flower Crowns

I have to say there were no dramas making this dress, no tears. I did unpick one small part where the bodice joined the skirt and the dart/pleat join was off by about 3mm. Just not acceptable. And then when I restitched it I accidentally caught up the skirt fabric but after a deep breath and some more unpicking it was fine. No marks on the velvet and the dart matching bothered me no more.

Flora Dress and Silk Horse Hair Hem

Flora Dress and Silk Horse Hair Hem

I used horse hair in the hem which I LOVED. No circle skirt should go without it. Volume, swirly, twirling. It promises and delivers all these things. I also made a Coppelia Cardi by Paper Cut Patterns. This was number 4. Fits all the cardi criteria.

Flora dress with Copellia Cardi

Flora dress with Copellia Cardi

Frocktails itself was a wonderful night held at the Ra Bar on Collins St.  Plus I lasted a whole 2 and 3/4 hours. A record for the sleepy damsel who had already napped for three hours that afternoon.

Flora Dress with Necklace Detail

Flora Dress with Necklace Detail

It was a little dark at the venue so photos were hard to get, but I finally met my gorgeous friend Jen from The Stitcher and Gatherer. We had hugs and cuddles and chats in the corner. It was so lovely to finally meet her and know that she is that wonderful woman I know off IG and we are friends. I also meet with some other gorgeous ladies. So challenging not to call them by their IG names! But the faces were all smiling and familiar. Rennae and I are now having semi regular sewing dates. All the yay!

Frocktails: Rennae, Bar Money and Jen

Frocktails: Jen, Bar Money and Rennae

The signature cocktail, The Seam Ripper, was delicious (even though I’m not supposed to have any alcohol, it was worth it), the food was amazing and the wait staff were fabulous.

Christian Louboutin Window

Christian Louboutin Window

The Bar was also situated next to Christian Louboutin. I was frocked up, didn’t have my credit card on me and I was going to sweep into their store and try on their shoes. I did. Nude pumps with a 10cm heel you shall be mine one one day. 40th birthday coming up, making own dress, requiring shiny shoes for high tea. I shall return. It was like angels were kissing my feet. They also had a rather fabulous window that (with permission) we photographed. Oversized sewing spools, needles, pattern pieces, teddy bears and scissors. It’s as though they knew we were coming and needed an enchanted entrance. I did note that they bolted the door as soon as we walked out. Obviously they were intimidated by my Flora dress and 7 year old patent leather shoes. I can be scary like that…

Flora Dress

Flora Dress

I had a wonderful weekend away, didn’t completely overextend the credit card, and am looking forward to catching up again.

Until next time, curtsey.

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Post Script: As Bruce was taking taking photos at the church, a man was standing back watching us. I was concerned he thought I might be not showing the proper respect for the church and it’s history. I’m always mindful of these things. I caught his eye, but he waved at me to continue so I twirled until I almost fell over. Which for the record was 2.5 times.

Wedding in 1957

Wedding in 1957

After that he approached us and from a plastic bag he produced an aged photo album. He opened it and showed me a picture of him and his wife on their wedding day, 58 years and one week ago standing on the very steps where I was twirling. He showed me the pictures of his wedding and his beautiful wife who has since passed. I cried.

The Wedding Door

The Wedding Door

His photos were so beautiful and to share that moment with me was one of those unexpected poignant moments in time where generations cross over and a special moment is shared. I didn’t catch his name, he was attending a ceremony at the church which is why he was carrying his photographs. But he did give me permission to take this photo and share it with you. I wish I had have caught his name…

Photos by Bruce. Flower crown from Gardens of Whimsey. Tights from Wolford. Shoes from Camper. Lace on undies from Lily Pond. Necklace from Quirk Collective.

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13 thoughts on “Frocktails: Flora Dress in Vintage Velvet and Silk

  1. What a stunning dress and an amazing event! I so enjoyed the Canberra Frocktails and I will be sure to get myself to Melbourne next time. Not sure I can top your amazing dress though 🙂

    • Jillian, I’m not sure I can top this dress. I’m put off by making anything else at the moment as it won’t be as special. Luckily I have my birthday dress to work on, and I’m sure I’ll be back to sewing day to day dresses. Especially after purchasing some Dolce and Gabbana fabric. 50’s sun dresses here I come! xx

  2. Oh Pips, you are an angel descended from heaven in that dress. I am all teary-eyed! You look so beautiful and I am so happy for you that you could go to frocktails and meet up with so many wonderful women. Sewing blind dates are the best! And why did they not give you those shoes for free at Louboutin? Thank you for sharing the story as well, moments like this are so precious. Xx

    • Thanks Ute. You know I am saving up for those shoes as we speak. I’m even thinking investing in a china cabinet that I can do up and display my shoes in. A walk in wardrobe is not enough! I can’t wait for our date! Tears all round I’m sure. xxx

    • Liz, I cried when I met him, cried when I wrote about him and then cried when I was proof reading.It was such a special moment. And so lovely to meet you at frocktials. Hopefully next time we will have more time for a chat! xxx

  3. I had to go back and look twice! The toile out of the curtained fabric looks fabulous as does the final dress. You are an amazing sewist and you look fabulous in dresses.

    It was interesting to read you have ME/CFS as a friend of mine has that too. I’d never have guessed you had it due to how prodigious you are with your sewing!

    I love the story of the man and his photo. It was quite wonderful and serendipitous.

    • Melissa, if the fabric wasn’t so stiff and itchy I would have gone back and finished it. Alas after rescuing the zip its back to the op shop. x

  4. Pingback: Dress Interupted | the girl in a tea cup

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