Viva Frida

Every year, I make myself a Feelgood Dress of the Summer.  Last year, it was the Burda 7378, now being worn almost daily during this current spell of a well-deserved British Summer!  For this year, I’d long ago earmarked Burda 7493.

I liked the tabs and buttons of View A, but felt that my chosen fabric needed simplicity so I left out the pockets and the topstitching.  Though I noticed that the pattern was marked “of average difficulty”, with a 3/4 rating, I just kind of optimistically assumed that this referred to the jacket…

The Fabric

My fabric: 2 yards of a cotton poplin from Alexander Henry via Ebay.  The print is called Viva Frida and features colourful images inspired by Frida Kahlo, her art and her life in Mexico.

There are many images of flowers and plants, there’s a Diego Rivera face in a cactus, love hearts as well as slogans saying “Amor Calor Dolor Dador” (Love Warmth Pain Giving) and “nada vale mas que la risa y el desprecio” (Nothing’s worth more than laughter and contempt).

It’s the kind of fabric you go for if you’ve always wanted tattoos but were afraid to ask.  Or if you don’t mind slightly shocked strangers stopping you in the street saying “where did you get that dress…?”  I’d used the fabric once before, years ago, to make a much loved version of New Look 6459.  But washing and UV exposure had taken their toll.  Compare the old and the new:

The Pattern Review

I was surprised that B7493 hadn’t been reviewed more widely, seeing how the model  on the envelope looked so lovely and happy wearing it….  SPR  had a couple of write-ups and these gave clues as to where the problems might lie:  

1. The waist fit 

2. The neckband

To which I’d also like to add:

3. The neckband, the Sequel.

Waist

If your figure is hourglass or pear, you might need to make a muslin as this dress is better suited to the figure with less of a waist/hip differential.  I made size 12 which left almost no ease at the hips and I reduced the waist from armhole and hip by a total of 5cm.  

Beware that the bodice and skirt (and all the side panels) join together an inch above the actual waistline.

Also be aware that since the dress doesn’t get its neckband till later, it won’t stay up when you’re checking the fit.  I considered pinning it to my bra straps but at the back I couldn’t reach.  In the end, I stuck it to myself with parcel tape.  Consider having a friend around…

On the plus side, the panels in the design do seem to create in a nice, figure-hugging effect.  And if you get it perfect, the whole thing is enhanced by tab and button.

Neckband

The outer part of the neckband is interfaced, the inner isn’t.  I suspect that since it curves and is on the bias at times, it stretches.  Sewing it to the interfaced piece (already attached to the dress) will require all your intermediate sewing skills to come to the fore.  No matter how much care I took, the folded edge always seemed 2cm bigger (sewing the armholes by the same method hadn’t created any problems).  Solutions: choose the lightest interfacing and apply to both neckband pieces and press, press, press: never slide your iron.  Alternatively, staystitch the inner neckband straight after cutting.

These options came too late for me.  My solution was a couple of tucks on the inside:

But what’s that on the right?

Ah, yes, another neckband issue.  Once the dress is completely finished, you put it on and get this:

A bra strap miles away from the neckband!  Only recently at Sew Ruth’s I’d read about creating a system with which to keep straps hidden.  It seemed the only solution here, bar going bra-less.  Luckily I had tiny snap fasteners and matching ribbon in my stash but the curved shape meant I had to put four of these in: two at the front and two at the back.Though the system works, you can tell that the neckband is strained somewhat. 

Worse, it means that I’m going to need a personal dresser to clip in the back straps for me…. 

 

Other Pattern Modifications

Side Zip – in order not to cut up my fabric too much (and risk the graphics repeating too closely), I put the zip in at the side and left out the centre back slit.  This means that to get into the dress, I have to put it on over my head (I’m studying the Houdini method for tips on how to do this easily).  It also means that the tabs have to have buttonholes so I could put them on last.

Conclusion

A less than professional execution of a dress that was challenging to make and might be more challenging still to wear.  But I think it looks good as a smart summer dress.  What do you think? 

8 thoughts on “Viva Frida

  1. Looks amazing and I love the fabric. I recently discovered the system for hiding your bra strap. Sasha made a friends wedding dress and used it there. So simple but extremely effective.

  2. The end result is terrific! Thanks for the post.
    I live in Florida, where such dresses can be worn 10 months out of the year. Instead of making bra strap holders, I invested in what I like to call my “Post-It Note Bra”…it has 2 slightly padded cups joined in the middle by a small clear clip, and it sticks directly to your skin. It is comfortable and never moves. I highly recommend Google-ing it.

    • Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to try it out as it’ll make so many more dress options possible (and I’m a big fan of halter necks).

    • :-)
      Yes, the faded fabric is lovely and I won’t throw it away till it has holes. But the shades the fabric takes on in the years in between are the best: tealy blue gradually fading to turquoise.

  3. I love the work of FK, and the fabric is terrific. I’ve used the bra strap holders many times (its a detail often seen in old dressmaking books and magazine articles), but not with tops with such a cut in shoulder line.

  4. I have the Frida fabric in another colorway, made a pair of culottes that never fail to get questions about the fabric. I really like how this one turned out; every summer has a new dress, working on the ideas for this summer now.

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