Saturday, 28 September 2019

On The Fence: Fringe Dress

So, this dress. I have a lot of conflicting feels about this dress. I actually made it one whole year ago, to wear to my children's 2nd and 5th birthday party. Next week they will turn 3 and 6, but have yet to share this dress until now. I just couldn't work out how I felt about it, and therefore, wasn't sure what to write. Having failed to fall in love with it during its first outing, the weather then turned too cold to wear it again that year. When I saw it hanging in my wardrobe during the colder months I'd have some vague thoughts about cutting it up, harvesting the larger sections of fabric to combine with the short length I have left, and making a top instead. But then this summer came rolling round, and I ended up wearing it a ton, which kind of muddied those plans.


No prizes for recognising that I've used the Chalk & Notch Fringe dress/blouse pattern here. It was a smash hit in 2018, so I had ample opportunity to see lots of different versions on social media. I am really NOT a dress person, but I do sometimes fantasise about breezing around in a dress. I was struck by the clever proportions of the Fringe's loosely-fitted bodice, and the not-super-gathered skirt, plus the gently shaped skirt hem. I really dislike wearing fit-and-flare dresses because I feel too 'little girl in her party dress' in them, but I was intrigued but this pattern's updated take on that style. 

(image source: Chalk & Notch)

The Fringe dress pattern includes two neckline/bodice variations: a V-shaped, button-up front and this dramatic cut out. I appreciate the button-up version for a nice day look, but the cut out appealed to me the most. You can also choose where (or if) you insert the waist ties. I chose to insert them in the front waist darts, so they tie up at the back. 

Normally I pinch out a couple of centimetres from the length of bodices and tops to account for my short-waistedness, but the waistline of the Fringe dress seemed to hit somewhere slightly north of the natural waistline anyway, so I decided to leave it be this time. Although it was a year ago, I remember really enjoying the construction of this dress. That's largely because my fabric behaved so nicely, but I can only conclude that the instructions must also have been clear and logical. 


An embarrassingly long time ago, I was offered a voucher code to try out the fabric printing service offered by Cotton Bee. Thanks so much for them for their generosity. I apologise if this is inaccurate, but from what I understand, Cotton Bee offer the same type of fabric print-on-demand service and products as Spoonflower, but are based in Poland. Which was a real benefit for UK-based sewers before Spoonflower opened a new branch that ships out of Germany. I haven't made any comparisons between prices or details of service and products, but I can say that ordering through the Cotton Bee site was easy and very fun. I managed to make my voucher stretch to two lengths of fabric, the other one being this amazing hand print interlock that became a TATB Freya top.   

Both the fabrics I ordered from Cotton Bee used prints by the same designer. I've since been on the site and was unable to access the function that allowed me to look through all the work of a specific designer, which may well be my fault, so I'm afraid I can't link to her collections in this post. I was obsessed with most of it though. I chose this jewels and gem stones print because of the gorgeous colours. The site allows you to monkey with the scale of the print, so I tried to replicate a kind of ditsy, Liberty-esque design in which the jewels wouldn't be completely noticeable unless you were up close. 


I went for the cotton lawn type base cloth and it is gorgeous quality. I think is the one they call cretonne, but I'd advise you to order a swatch book before you place any orders to be sure you're getting what you want. Anyways, it's not quite tana lawn-level amazing, but easily as good as basically any other cotton lawn I've encountered. I took a long time to pull the trigger with this fabric and cut into it for this project. I love it so much but, for a couple of reasons, in the end I'm not convinced I made the best choice of use for this fabric.

Firstly, I just don't know that this dress generally suits or fits me that well. I guess the suiting-me bit is entirely subjective, and to be honest I'm not sure what I would tweak to improve the fit. Secondly, and more specifically, I don't think the busy, ditsy print works very well with that cut out neckline. Or maybe it's that the base colour doesn't offer sufficient contrast with my skin tone. Either way, a bolder, solid colour would have packed more of a punch to help the cut out detail really shine. 

But as I say, I have ended up wearing this dress a lot this summer and it does feel lovely to wear, so it wouldn't make sense at this point to dissect it. I do have just under a metre left of this fabric. Enough to squeeze a Scout tee, or some kind of woven tank. What would you think I should make from the remainder? Enquiring minds need to know....


Natasha said...

I love this dress! I have the pattern, but it hasn't really been on my radar. Now that I've seen yours, I want to make one too! I like the idea of a Scout T or some other simple shirt for the remaining yardage. Happy sewing!

tsophies said...

I feel like you're right, the print just doesn't suit you sadly somehow. Maybe it is the white, and you need a more flowing ditsy print? However the dress itself looks so lovely on you, the fit is nice and looks very feminine, something i always find attractive in clothing, and it seems loose fit enough to be comfortable but not so much as to be boxy or shapeless which i'm not keen on. And I think if you've been wearing it a lot this summer - I would keep it as an easy breezy throw on for warmer days - we had some baking ones this year!

MultiVroon said...

I think it's lovely, but a bit tighter and higher in the waist snd a but shorter would be just a bit fresher.

M-C said...

The pattern is fine, and I totally understand the desire to wear a light poof of cotton lawn. But I think you are on to something with the background color being too blah for you. And I would add that the scale of the print is off to my eye - the colors you like don't show at all in the picture, so what you see up close is radically different from the general impression. It seems to me that this is what gives the dress a little girl vibe, much more than the pattern. I too would still wear it though 😉

Linda said...

It’s okay but...
I’d take off the skirt. Use that fabric to add below the bodice to make a tunic. It just too much tiny print stuff and it does nothing for you as is. Turn it into a tunic and wear with a pair of Birkin jeans!

Jo said...

I love the fabric and the top half of the dress. The neck line is flattering on you. Do you think tacking it up a bit and taking a look at the hem might help? The dress in the photo is above the knee and yours is a bit longer. I might only need an inch or so off the bottom. I did this to a skirt a while back and it turned from old lady to fine in an instant. I have to agree with you though, a scout tee would be wonderful with some of your jeans and a little cardy. Jo xxx

KathrynT said...

I agree with the other commenters that suggested it might be a bit long on you. Very cute dress, but I think it would look cuter 5cm shorter.

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Unknown said...

Thanks everyone so much for your comments!!! A real mixed bag of opinions and suggestions, so interesting! Thanks again all for weighing in


Alex Navarro said...

I think it's lovely, but a bit tighter and higher in the waist snd a but shorter would be just a bit fresher.

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