The kids pestered me to pick one and, thinking I could just wear a simple, drab brown dress from out of my wardrobe, I nominated a "scrub hen".
For the twitchers out there, what I was imagining was definitely more Mallee Fowl (the fact that you can barely see the birds in those Wiki pictures is perfect!)
OK, so you're probably not reading this blog to learn about Australian native fowl, right? Let's talk about this dress!
Although before we do, here's a close up of my earrings that I made myself with some feather trim and little metal crimps. I'd initially thought I'd make a feather decorated headband or "fascinator" type thing but that seemed like too much bother. These are pure costume jewellery and appropriately cheap and easy.
I had fallen in love with the Vogue Vena Cava dress when I saw Liesl's version. I tracked down a copy of the pattern which is out of print and not too easy to find. I had no immediate intention to make it, but when I saw this variegated brown jersey at GJs fabrics I knew I had my scrub hen dress.
I had correctly bought the larger of the two pattern sizes and I spent a few days looking at the pattern pieces and wondering how on earth I could merge from one size above the waist to a larger size at the hips (my usual required adjustment). They are decidedly odd looking pattern pieces!
Eventually I decided to stick with one size and just use a smaller seam allowance on the skirt part if needed. Then I looked at which size to choose and realised I was about 2-3" larger in all my measurements than the largest size! What?!! oops.
Oh well. I drafted off the largest size and cut it out anyway. It's stretchy fabric, and at $10 metre I was ready to fail if that was how it was to be.
I scared myself further as I spread the fabric out on the carpet where I do most of my cutting, pinned the pattern tracing and then cut. As I cut each piece it "pinged" back to the size it was before I'd carefully spread it and suddenly seemed considerably smaller than the traced pattern piece. It would seem the carpet was too grippy and had allowed the fabric to be stretched and stay stretched until cut.
Understandably I was feeling quite ready to fail with respect to producing a wearable dress. I decided to enjoy the process and learn from the pattern anyway.
I'm kind of habituated to sewing knit garments quickly and using the overlocker. The way these pattern pieces were going to go together that wouldn't be possible. I slowed down, followed the instructions and really enjoyed making the dress. This in progress Instagram photo shows the fun of having no idea how it's going to come together!
I kept the skirt's side seams as per the pattern due to the pocket construction, but I sewed the centre front (pointless with all that gathering) and centre back seams with a narrower seam allowance to give more wiggle room. I've no idea if it made a difference but I was worried if the backside was too tight there might be too much visible undies line.
I'm not the first one to say it, but it would probably be wise to drop the back hem a bit as the skirt has a tendency to lift at the centre back. Especially in contrast to the front that sinks a little with the weight of the long ties.
I also read other sewing blogs where it was noted that the sleeves sit lower than the pattern illustration. I wasn't fussed to change that as I kind of liked the idea of a bit more sleeve coverage. I didn't trouble with the topstitching of the sleeves as it would have been lost in the print, but I'd definitely make this dress again in a solid and do the topstitching as per the pattern.
The verdict? I love it! It's as easy to wear as t-shirt, it looks pretty dressy and it's brown. Perfection! Add in that it was a joy to make and I had no expectations of it working out and I really am quite delighted.
We were at the zoo on Monday morning before the theatre that night and a good friend kindly took some photos of me in my natural habitat, the "scrub".
Here I am using my big turkey feet to tend to my nest! :)
And then, in the evening, the kids and I headed off to the theatre. Our little animal tribe.
We had a great night out, the music was lovely and the acrobats amazing. I like to think we were the best dressed creatures prowling the city streets that night! Thanks for coming along for the ride.