Monday, 4 July 2011

Frida Kahlo Dress

Ok, we need to talk about something. 'Something' being what on earth I was wearing on the last day of Me-Made-June '11. I promised you a full unveiling, so here we are:

This is something of a departure from my usual clothing, and to be honest I'm not quite sure yet what kind of occasion would be best to wear it to. But I have to say, despite questioning looks from my boss when I wore to work for the final day of the challenge, I really like this dress. It amuses me no end.

This dress kind of developed itself. I started with a metre of Frida Kahlo fabric that my best mate bought me (along with some other lengths of incredible novelty print fabric, I must add) for my 30th birthday. So it can easily be calculated that this has been in my stash for over a year and a half. It wouldn't have stayed in there for that long if I had figured out how to use it sooner. It was 1m long and not particularly wide, so my options were limited if I wanted to use it for clothing. Eventually it became clear that the bodice of a dress would be the way to get the most out of this fabric (which I made somewhat peachier when I washed it with a red blanket!).

Normally I have an aversion to princess line bodices for some unexplicable reason. But we'd been using the bodice pieces of Simplicity 4070 (pictured below) at work recently, and when I tried it on I was really impressed with the fit, so I made that my starting point. I redrafted the neckline to make it wider and a little more boat neck, and drafted a new neck facing to correspond. I decided to add little cap sleeves when I realised I had just enough fabric left. They are attached to the bodice in a manner that would make my Manufacture tutor from university weep, but if you don't tell Rita, she'll never know.

I was careful with the placement of the print (first time for everything!), because I really wanted to emphasise my favourite parts of the design, like getting the sacred heart that says 'I love you alot' over my heart. This means that I end up with what looks like a garlic bulb on my belly, but hey! There's usually garlic inside my belly, so why not have a picture of it on the outside too?!

The plain red fabric was from a large roll we have at work which matched the printed fabric close enough to avoid a guilt-inducing trip to the fabric shop. I tried to balance out its plainess by adding a row of the cream lace from my stash along the hem that I also used for my New School Vintage lace embellished dress. I actually think Frida would have approved of that addition, not being particularly afraid of decorative dress herself! I made the skirt from three rectangles which were joined at the side seams then gathered into the bodice when I stitched the waist seam.

I like to think of this dress as a kind of updated version of something Frida would have worn herself. The elements are there: celebrated imagery of Mexico, vibrant colours, a full skirt, modest neckline, traditional lace detail. It is also a surprisingly comfortable garment. This is the first full 'twirly' skirt I've worn in a squillion years, so it's fun to experiment with a different silhouette. It does feel pretty 'party dress', but not too 'little girl'. As I say, I'm not entirely sure at what event this dress belongs, but it most certainly needs to involve a Margarita, which to be fair, is how I feel about most events anyhow.

34 comments:

Urban Rustic said...

My daughter would LOVE this dress especially for its Frida Kahlo-ness and I actually have the pattern too.You look so nice as ever!

EmilyKate said...

ITS AMAZING! I loved the tattooed-ness of the bodice :o)

Claire Cooper said...

Love it! I love Frida Kahlo's work anyway and seeing a print with elements for her stuff in is great!

Liz said...

That is an awesome dress!

Kathryn said...

I love it! I think it works really well as a bodice, it really emphasises the print, might have been too much even if you did have enough for a full dress. The lace makes it perfect.

Andrea said...

¡Me gusta mucho tu nuevo vestido! It really is just lovely - the fit is perfect and the Frida Kahlo print rocks.

Rehanon Mackenzie said...

Be - auti - fal baby girl! Frida is up there now wiggling her monobrow in awe of your frock :) nice work doll xxx

khriste B said...

Fabulous. I love Frida and you have captures her style.

Scruffybadger said...

O it is so adorable - you have truly done it justice. I especially like how you've used it with the lace (swoon) & most gorgeous cap sleeves I've ever seen.

Marie said...

This is a great Zoe...you can totally wear it as a casual day dress or dress it up in the evenings. Gorgeous!!!

shams said...

Frida would have loved this! Very cute. :)

Sunduri Das said...

This is charming and unique.Very nice.

punkychewster said...

omg i LOVE frida kahlo!!!! and that is just awesome fabric! the final dress turned out so pretty!!! and i love your attention to details, like the placement of the heart and how the designs at the seams match! that it the ultimate validation of a seamstress with a passion!

good work!!!

xx

happy 4th of july btw!

senjiva said...

Beautiful!!!! Be sure to wear it on Wednesday because July 6 is Frida Kahlo's birthday! (unibrow not required)

jessica said...

Zoe, I love this! What a fantastic way to use a short bit of novelty fabric, and the lace on the bottom just sets it all off perfectly. One of these days I may copy you ;-) ...

Shelly said...

Zo, I love it! The bodice fabric is fantastic and the style is so cute. Great choice of design, me thinks.

Sigrid said...

It's great ! Let's be honest, if we wanted to look "normal" all the time, what would be the fun of sewing ? Frida is such an icon, after all, because she chose her own style.

gingermakes said...

Totally diggin it! Love the lace around the bottom, love the background color of the Frida print with the red-- super cool!

Miss P said...

It's GAWgeous!! I'm picturing red shoes.....
You're jus tooooo clever lady!
Px

MrsC said...

I love it! I have a length of one of the other Frida Kahlo fabrics and I just adore looking at it, all that rich colour. You''ve used it so well. Gorgeous dress, and really suits your dark colouring :)

Magpie Mimi said...

I'm going to hunt down some Frida fabric so I can have one too! It's soooo good!

Law said...

I'm turned off by princess seams too, dunno why!!

Dress looks very cool. It is very Frida.

Suzy said...

Amazing fabric, love it! And brave of you to use it for clothing. I sometimes get a bit scared to use novelty prints for garments as It can look odd. It looks perfect here.

Stacy aka Stacybeads said...

Surely you can guess my opinion about this: what WOULDN'T be an appropriate time and place to wear this? But that's me. :)

Ali said...

Love Frida Kahlo, and what a fun dress! It encapsulates all the Frida-ness I love. Nice touch on the lace on the skirt -- I've got some lovely lace I haven't known what to do with, and now the wheels are a-turning ... :) Congrats on another successful me-made month!!!

Caroline said...

I love it - very Frida.

Meg the Grand said...

Love the style, and LOVE your Frida fabric :) Well done!

Sants said...

Just. Too. Cool.
Now I also know why you didn't recommend Frida for the dead famous party as otherwise I'd have had to borrow your brand new dress. Borrow?? Steal.

Btw, do I recognise that pattern from Brighton Awesomeness Day?

Clare said...

So unique! I love this and it suits you so well. I hope it sees many outings this summer.

Rosie said...

Zoe I LOVE this dress, the colour really suits you : ) xx

Renee said...

I love the print. Great dress.

The Long & Winding Bobbin said...

I fecking love this dress! not only because I love frida but because of the great mix of colours and a gathered skirt... who doesnt love that? Great job :-)

Adrienne said...

I LoooooVE the dress! It's brilliant Zoe! So original!

threadsquare said...

This is ridic! You should wear it everywhere and start planning a holiday in Mexico. I typically shy away from gathered skirts (well, on me anyway), but here it looks so perfect.

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