Frugal Frocks 2021

Just as I started to feel I was losing my sew-jo, along came an Instagram challenge which fired up a spark of inspiration in me. The #frugalfrocks2021 challenge, hosted by Ruan of The Yorkshire Sew Girl and Sam of Frugalisima, has been a real tonic. Not only has it given me the push I’ve needed to sew more frequently, but it’s also been a great way to connect with many more members of the fabulous sewing community that we are all a part of.

So, here’s how the challenge unfolded for me…

Sunday 14th February

I start spotting posts about a new Instagram challenge that sounds really interesting: using a free pattern and some fabric from your stash, make a dress during March and post a picture on the 31st including the hashtag #frugalfrocks2021. I could manage that couldn’t I?! I mean, I’ve got plenty of stash fabrics to choose from after all…gulp!!

Later that day…

I come across a fabulous blog post from Vicky at Sewstainability, highlighting over a hundred free sewing patterns. I knew free patterns were out there and have sewn a couple before (the Peppermint Spring Shorts being something of a favourite) but the sheer number of amazing patterns on this blog post alone is astounding. Now there is nothing for it, I just have to join this challenge!

Monday 1st March

I’m ready! I’ve chosen the pattern I’m going to make, I’ve downloaded the pdf, I’ve printed the pattern pieces, and I’ve selected my fabric (a glorious camo linen mix from Rainbow Fabrics). The pattern has buttons…ooh, buttons; cue much distraction and the day ending without me sticking my pdf pattern together.

Sunday 7th March

Work has been flat out and I haven’t had a moment to get my pattern ready. Today’s the day. I stick three sheets together before realising there are 35 more. I can’t face it! I decide to send my pattern away to be printed A0. Feeling the procrastination shame!

Sunday 14th March

My pattern has arrived. It’s half way through March. I still haven’t started my project. Now the panic is setting in…there are just two and a half weeks to go and I sew very slowly. Am I actually going to manage this challenge?!

By the end of the day…

Something has clicked and the motivation has arrived! I’ve cut out my pattern as well as all of my pattern pieces. My sewing machine is threaded and ready to go. I can feel my sew-jo quietly creeping into the room and all of a sudden all I want to do is sew. I need to make a plan…I’m going to try and sew every day this week. This is no mean feat, as recently I’ve often only managed once a week. Can I do it…?

Monday 16th March

Stay stitching complete. Interfacing applied. I’m off and underway!

Tuesday 17th March

This pattern has princess seams. I’ve attached the side front panels to the centre front panels. I was about to finish my seams but managed to create a huge bird’s nest of thread and jam my overlocker completely so will need to get the screwdriver out. Can’t face that right now so that’s a job for tomorrow…

Wednesday 18th March

So it turns out that it wasn’t just a jammed overlocker…the needle plate on my machine was completely destroyed! Not sure how I hadn’t realised until now. I’ve ordered a new one on next day delivery so fingers crossed it won’t hold me up too much. In the meantime, I’ve attached the side back panels to the centre back panel and have joined the facing pieces at the shoulder seams.

Thursday 18th March

The new needle plate arrives nice and early and I get the overlocker threaded up and ready to go straight away. I am able to finish all of the princess seams I’ve sewn up so far, as well as the bottom of the facing pieces. I end my session today by joining the front and back of the dress at the shoulder seams and then attaching the facing to the main body. It’s taking shape!

Friday 19th March

Just one step today: I sew around the neckline. It all counts when you’re working to a deadline!

Sunday 21st March

After a quick spot of understitching, it’s time for the burrito method. Now, I’ve used this method once before when I made the Seamwork Dani Pinafore and I rather enjoyed it. However, I get myself in a bit of a two and eight this time round. I find following written instructions, even with line drawings, really quite tricky and I often have to seek out support videos from the pattern companies or YouTube videos demonstrating specific techniques. I had done just that with the Dani but with this current project having an open front I just can’t get my head around it all.

Luckily, I’m sewing with my very own Sewing Godmother Sarah on one of our virtual sewing sessions. Always full of helpful advice, Sarah suggests I sew up the side seams and then bias bind the armholes. I really liked this idea so decide to go with that. I sew the side seams and next up will be making a couple of strips of bias binding.

Tuesday 23rd March

I decide to use a contrast bias binding for the armholes…a) because I like the small details and b) because I didn’t fancy making any! I’ve got a really cute black and green floral binding left over from a previous make so I’m using that.

Sunday 28th March

Almost the whole week has passed without me managing to fit in any sewing…and now we are only three days away from the reveal. In typical me style I’m now back to trying to beat the clock.

I complete both bias bound arm holes today and I finish the button placket. I also overlock and pin the hem. Not too far left to go now…

Monday 29th March

I hem the dress but make the error of not trying it on first and it is too long. It sits right about on my knee and I just don’t find that length flattering on me. I like both longer and shorter but that in-between length does nothing for me. So I go bold and cut 7cm off the bottom of the dress! It’s now overlocked and pinned again and ready to finish off tomorrow.

Tuesday 30th March

The last day before reveal day. Just hemming and buttons to go. The hemming goes smoothly this time and I’m really happy with the shorter length. However, the buttons less so…my button hole foot HATES this button placket and nearly chews my dress up three times before I give in. It’s time to finally try out the Prym pliers I’ve had for an age and add some poppers to this make…

Later that day…

My dress is finally complete. And I’ve even managed to get a quick photo in preparation for tomorrow’s reveal too. I can’t wait to see what everyone has made!

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