I made this divine dress earlier this summer when I first saw the Tea Party print appear on the Frumble Fabrics website. It was another must have … I didn’t have a clue what I was going to make with it when I first bought it, and when I first showed my newly purchased fabric to my family and friends I think they thought I had totally lost the plot. “A dress … with teapots?!” was the refrain, accompanied by much eyeball rolling. (Pah – I am used to this kind of feedback from my more extreme dressmaking choices!)
The pattern is the first incarnation of the McCalls 6554 Fashion Star sundress and features the original square neckline shown on the pattern. Later, I decided that both I and my errant bra straps prefer a more gently rounded scoop at the neck, so my subsequent versions, both my April in Paris dress and the Garden Party dress, have included this alteration.
As you know, I love a large scale print, but this was one helluva job to match up … I did manage it, even the spouts match on the centre back seam. For newbies to large scale pattern matching, beware, it did take four hours to cut out, cutting out each piece and rearranging to get exact matches while still managing to fit in all out of the one length of fabric … it’s like a textile Mensa test! However, matching mission accomplished. Because I knew I’d have trouble with the inset panel at the front and the large scale pattern (there’s no way on earth you could get that to match) I chose to use a Michael Miller polka dot (Ta Dot in Geranium) for the pleat inset itself.
For me, it’s what makes the dress. The polka dot inset really brings out the geranium red in the print, giving the whole ensemble a bit more va va voom. Having searched in vain for any kind of necklace that worked with the dress, in the end I made a little matching French style neck scarf in the polka dots too. I think it works without making the whole outfit too 1970s air hostess!
I really made the effort to finish this dress perfectly, it’s fully lined in a butter soft cotton poplin which gives the whole thing extra swishability (I am lazy and often don’t line stuff but it really does give a better finish) and it has a beautifully inserted invisible zipper and handstitched hems.
I wore the dress a lot in the summer with 50s style scarlet kitten heel slingbacks and a patent belt, in fact, I think it was my favourite make of the summer. Now we’re in autumn months I thought I’d have to consign the dress to the off-season side of my wardobe. I had a change of heart after I posted a comment on the Dolly Clackett blog. The lovely Roisin suggested I try to reinvent with tights and cardi combo to see me through the chillier seasons. What a genius idea … I love the look … and it’s really fun to wear.
As you already know, there is no “too much” in my fashion brain so for the photos I piled on more polka dots with my little 50s bow backed gloves and clutch bag. Safe to say I have a crazy brain when it comes to pattern.
This dress makes me happy as soon as I put it on, although it may be a bit too much for the more sane seamstresses amongst you. Luckily, the older I get the less I care about how I need to conform and the more outlandish my choices. Who knows what I’ll be making in another few years! Tomorrow A and I are off in search of a Top Hat (I tried on my cousin’s yesterday and just fell head over heels for it). Then I’ll try to resist the urge to make a matching ringmaster’s outfit (although, I have the perfect steampunk jacket pattern with tails if I change my mind).