Finished - Frocktails outfit - Elisalex as skirt plus Coco top!

Never one to rush things I've finally fished my Frocktails outfit out of the delicates washing basket to reenact. From these photos it was clear that (a) I needed a haircut (done), and (b) I needed a new bra (yet to be done). Oh well. My photoshop skills are definitely not up for addressing frizzy hair or a saggy bosom. 




So, Melbourne Frocktails happened about a month ago and I was delighted to get a ticket off the waiting list (thanks Kat and Steph!). Being an absolute cold fish my outfit was planned around being warm and this fabulous Alannah Hill black and navy polkadot fabric I've had stashed for at least a year. It is a mystery fabric - I suspect silk as it didn't enjoy a high heat, but I forgot to do the burn test, so there may well be some poly in there.

I had a skant metre, so a full dress was out of the question. I know part of the point of Frocktails is to have an opportunity to make something super special and extravagant but my practical side couldn't succumb and so separates it was. I wanted it to be all about the skirt, and wanted a skirt with drama. I decided on adapting the Elisalex dress, using only the skirt portion. I used the waistband piece from the Charlotte skirt, and made a straight size 10 with no alterations other than removing an enormous amount off the length (more on that later) and adding a silk lining (FANCY!) because the fabric is a little sheer.


The Elisalex-as-skirt is very easy to fit - the enormous amount of design ease over the hips means you really only need to go with the waist measurement. I thought about adding pockets but was running out of time so left them out. I love the OTT shape and pleats, however was fairly unimpressed with the drafting of the hemline. I made a quick muslin just to make sure the thing wasn't going to look ridiculous, and ended up taking about 30cm off the bottom. The skirt hemline is very pegged, and the instructions merely state to 'hem at desired length'. As mentioned by a couple of others who have made this it is impossible to 'hem at desired length' as drafted because of the shape - you essentially have to redraft the hemline as a mirror image reverse pegged shape to get it to fit. Pretty lazy drafting if you ask me and enough to send an inexperienced sewer into a bit of a panic. Really to get the right length and be able to hem it you either need to make a muslin then redraft the hemline at your preferred length, or draft a hem facing.

Hemline as drafted


New hemline with reverse pegged hem allowance to prevent swearing when hemming

I was mighty proud of my first ever invisible hand sewn hem - it took me forever and I bitched and moaned about doing it the whole time but it is beautiful and invisible from both sides. Check. It. Out.


Otherwise I was really happy with the pattern (bearing in mind I didn't go near the bodice) and I'd love to make this up in a more casual fabric for summer and wear it a little shorter as a mini - I have some heavy black Levi's denim that would hold the tulip shape beautifully so that will go on my never ending sewing list.

For the top half I was planning a Nettie bodysuit with a scoop back in a silk-cupro-lycra jersey that I purchased from the Fabric Store. I only wanted the skirt to have drama however the jersey was a shitty, shifty, nasty piece of work, causing my machine to skip stitches and generally being, frankly, quite the pain in the arse. By the time I got to try-on stage it was clear that the fabric was a terrible choice for the pattern and I had to think of a plan B. This was about 4pm, 4 days before the event. Despite the imminent futility I flew through my wardrobe looking for something even vaguely fancy that would match. By 4.30 I knew I had to make something else. There was just enough fabric left over to cut out a new pattern I'd been wanting to make for a while the Knipmode Coco top.


Knipmode are a Dutch pattern company, similar to Burda, in that they are PDF, no seam allowances, and, just to make life fun when under pressure, no instructions in English! Yay! The upside is being able giggle at amusingly unfamiliar words like 'Winklewagon' (cart!). To be fair this is a pretty simple little top, the main detail being fabulous triangular shoulder inserts.  Anyway with a bit of help from Google translate I was able to muddle my way through, and by the time I got to try on time it was again completely clear that this silk-cupro-jersey was truly the Fabric of Evil and there was absolutely no way I was going to have a garment that didn't look like it was made by a 7 year old learning to sew.  It was now 2 days to the event and I was sick. I had in the stash some lovely, fine black merino jersey and decided that being warm and not half-naked was more important so in a last ditch attempt to make something and avoid buying a RTW top I cut out the Coco again. The wool behaved beautifully of course because it is not the Fabric of Evil, and all was going well until I realised after finishing the shoulder gussets, fusing and topstitching down the facings that I had sewn the back on inside out. 

Sewing when sick - not ideal. 

At that point I truly didn't care - it wasn't that obvious, and I was counting on it being dark AND knowing barely anyone at the event and not being looked at too closely!  In fact I was so over it, it didn't even get hemmed. LAZY! SICK! DON'T CARE!


  Here's a better look at that lovely neckline:



Now. Remember about the instructions only being in Dutch? And no seam allowances? Turns out one shouldn't add seam allowances to the triangles, as you won't get triangles! My points didn't meet up. I should have only added them at the part of the gusset that attaches to the sleeve head. I've trimmed them off the pattern piece at the bottom already but for future reference to self and anyone else who tries this pattern, don't add them at the sides!



It's well worth having a trawl through the Knipmode patterns (the only annoying thing is that often they're made up in fairly mad fabrics that hide all the style lines). They're cheap and apparently they are drafted for a taller lady, as the Dutch tend to be. I'm 178cm tall (I think that's 5'8'') and I cut the longest length and it was just long enough to have a reasonable hem.

So that's the story of my Frocktails outfit. It was such a fun night - despite knowing very few ladies it was great fun and I was delighted to meet a few familiar faces from the Interwebs. Can't wait to do it again - in warm weather hopefully!

Have you made any Knipmode patterns before? Is there any other language in the world that has a better word for cart than Winklewagon?

Comments

  1. Love your new outfit. I just bought some navy and grey spots from Tessuti with a skirt like this in mind. I can't see what pattern you used, but it is perfect for my fabric.

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    1. Thanks Gail! It's the elisalex dress pattern from By Hand London - sorry I haven't linked it, will go back and fix that. I got my paper pattern from Stitch 56, but they aren't making paper patterns anymore, only PDF, so there's not that many floating around anymore.

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  2. You looked fab on the night!! Lovely meeting you and big thanks again for the trip to DCF!!!

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  3. That skirt is really fun! I’m one of the very few people who actually like the Elisalex skirt better than the bodice, but somehow I’ve never considered making a separate skirt from the pattern. Thank you for mentioning the crappy hem drafting! I came across it myself, but had almost forgotten about it again.
    I think your outfit is perfectly appropriate for Frocktails—and it’s even better that you’ll be able to wear it on other occasions as well, and separately! (:

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    1. Thanks Jana - I was so pleased with the skirt! It is a fun silhouette!

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  4. Ooh, what a great skirt! I love the dramatic shape of the Elisalex, but I had to shorten it massively too. It felt like I cut it in half! Your top looks lovely too, Good job persevering after the fabric from hell!

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    1. Thankyou - yes you wouldn't want to waste all that extra fabric without a test run I think! It almost came to my ankles!

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  5. You looked fabulous on the night and none of your trials were evident in person, and it does sound like you encountered some road blocks! I must get around to photographing my Frocktails dress but the thought of getting dressed up in it somehow feels like a major hurdle, despite its simplicity.
    Love the shape of the Elisalex skirt but I agree that the hem situation is very odd!

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    1. Thanks Bella - oh your dress! I swoon! You must go somewhere fancy and get some pics wearing it. It was such a favourite!

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  6. Very cool idea to go for separates for Frocktails (I so wish we had Frocktails here). I'm sure you'll get a lot of wear out of them - especially the top. I love how they are both really simple pieces but with unusual design features. Also polka dots!!!

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    1. I think you must start your own NZ Frocktails! Thanks kate! :)

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  7. Well, full marks for persevering through all those setbacks! You'd never tell, looking at the final result - it's a gorgeous outfit :) I've only ever used the bodice of the Elisalex (which behaved beautifully) with the Charlotte skirt (massive shortening - they do design for the statuesque, don't they!), but it looks amazing as a stand alone skirt. Hope you're feeling much better now, and can enjoy a long stretch of hiccup-free sewing!

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  8. Gray story and great outfit! This skirt fits so many looks and occasions! I've started working with KnipMode patterns and I love them, because they are designed for tall people, like us :) I'd like to suggest you this post to know more about the new and improved KM.

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    1. Thanks Inna! I'll go check it out. In the meantime I remembered that I found this list of Dutch sewing terms translated to English:
      http://www.sewingpatterns.eu/glossary

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  9. Your hem is distractingly beautiful! Glad you decided to get aboard the hand stitching winklewagon. The whole outfit looks great! I really like what those triangle insets do to the neckline.

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    1. It is very pretty! And I can't wait to make another top with some contrasting triangles - it's a great pattern.

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  10. Very clever to use the Elisalex skirt as a skirt. Your outfit did look fabulous, although I think you under estimated not being looked at too closely, we are a bunch of sewists after all!

    I have made the Elisalex frock and had a bugger of a time fitting the bodice. And in the finished frock I can't raise my hands above my head. Which was OK because there was no wild dancing involved in the event that I made the frock for. Oh and I lopped 10 INCHES off the skirt length in a combination of some off the middle and some off the bottom. I know I'm on the short side (165cm) but 10 inches??!! What, are they drafting for giraffes?

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    1. You were there? Dammit, another person I didn't get to meet! Yeah 10 inches is a lot!

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  11. Lovely outfit! I'm off to check my Knipmode archives for the May 2013 issue, I must have missed the neckline details on this top!

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    1. Thanks Marianne - thanks for coming by! :)

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  12. This outfit looks great - despite making it through illness! I love the Elisalex as a skirt idea - I never really liked it on the bodice, and I've made the bodice + Colette Hazel skirt many times. I think the shape is cuter in skirt-only form. And how weird about the pegged hem (beautiful topstitching, btw - I never have the patience!). How lucky to have a Frocktails event to go to - it'd be great if someone would start one in LA (and by someone, I mean not me :D).

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    1. Thanks Katie - I was amazed that not many others had done it. One girl has made some mini skirts and they're very cute! And yes, you need an LA Frocktails. Organise it and they will come!

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  13. so chic ;o) Brisbane frocktails coming up next month - time to get stitching!

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  14. Oh you seriously make me laugh! I can just see you and the fabric of evil in your sickbed. Bwahahaha! And I am so referring to my shopping trolley at the supermarket next time as my "winklewagon". Gold, pure gold. Why do I always go all immature when I read you posts and comment? Oh cool outfit by the way xxxxx

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    1. Oh it was Evil with four way stretch I tell you!

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  15. I love these separates - and totally think separates should be worn to fancy events more often. Hope you had a great time!

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  16. I love these separates - and totally think separates should be worn to fancy events more often. Hope you had a great time!

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