FINISHED: Flamingo Renfrew Dress

There’s nothing more enjoyable to me than an uninterrupted weekend at home, sewing, knitting, reading and drinking coffee. So to have TWO weekends in a row like that is like a little piece of heaven before it becomes December, and I have people to visit and people visiting me every weekend.

I actually think this might be the first time all year that I’ve had two consecutive weekends with no plans! I don’t know why, but this makes me want to laugh like a cartoon villain whilst steepling my fingers together and raising an eyebrow mysteriously…..

OKAY, what I’m trying to say, is I’ve been super busy, and now I’m not, so THAT’s why I’m posting this now rather than weeks ago when I’d made it! OKAY? Okay.


LOOK! I’m a sulky teenager hiding behind my hair!
‘But MUUUUUUM, I don’t WANT to have my photo taken! I’m playing on Final Fantasy VIII’
Yes…. I was that geeky. And still am.
That’s right, it’s the dress I was wearing on the day I took my Minoru photos. I had planned on writing a post about the dress a couple of days after my Minoru post, but…. I got sidetracked by having to like, DO stuff, and never got around to writing one. This is also why the photos are terrible again. We were in a hurry, I was freezing and as always, it’s a bit of a painful process having my photo taken. So…. you know. I’m just saying. I normally look a lot happier than this. Mr Cuckoo says I look like I want to murder him in most of the photos he takes. Also, not really sure what’s going on with my hair. There’s not much I can do about that. My hair does what it wants. I have no control over it at all. I’m pretty sure it’s evil.
ANYWAY. Ahem. Sidetracked again. I found this super stretchy cotton jersey at the market stall I tend to buy most of my fabric from. It’s navy with white flamingos, see?
Once again, sorry about the muzzy photo. 

I fell in love with it immediately and bought 2 metres of the stuff, for £6. One of my favourite dresses is a really simple jersey dress with cap sleeves and a slightly gathered skirt, and I had the idea of copying the style to make myself more dresses that would actually see some use. I THEN decided that I would try to make this dress over a couple of nights so that I could wear it that weekend for Mr Cuckoo’s thirtieth birthday celebrations. Yes. I’m definitely seeing a pattern here. Sigh. 

So. Did I cock up the dress? You’d better BELIEVE I did. I had the brilliant idea of just using the Sewaholic  Renfrew pattern (LOVE LOVE LOVE) for the bodice section, and then just cutting two rectangles for the skirt, gathering the top edge and then (after working out the length of the bodice section I’d want for my super long torso) attaching top to bottom and BAM! Dress. I was so PROUD of my super simple idea. I’ve sewn the Renfrew pattern a ton of times (well… okay A FEW, if we’re gonna get all PERNICKERTY about it. JEEZ) so this would be EASY. Nothing can go wrong here. And I’ll end up with an awesome dress. 
So I sewed the bodice section from the Renfrew. Easy peasy. Looked really good. Since the fabric was SO stretchy, I did as Lauren suggested and cut the neckline band shorter and really stretched that mother as I was sewing (note to self: That basting you did on the raw edge is going to SNAP when you stretch it that far) and I really like how the neckline looks on it. Then I cut out those skirt rectangles. I sewed ’em together. All looking good. I then serged/overlocked the top and used that to gather the skirt together (first time I’ve tried that!) and it was all looking really good. The skirt seemed a LITTLE bit gathered-to-within-an-inch-of-it’s-life, but I’d measured it against my original dress, so I knew it’d be okay. So, using the new see-through elastic I’d bought, I sewed skirt to bodice, and eagerly whacked it on to see how it was looking. 
OH. DEAR. In my eagerness to finish, and my pride at how quickly things were coming together, I’d forgotten one important step. Measuring the Renfrew bodice to my waistline, and cutting off the excess. If I hadn’t been so gutted, it would have been HILARIOUS. My neatly gathered skirt STARTED at hip level, and hit me mid-calf. It was 80’s-TASTIC. It looked AWFUL. I wish I’d have taken a photo. 
So, gathering myself together, I cut the skirt from the bodice again, measured the bodice to hit my waistline and cut off the excess. But then I was in such a hurry that I couldn’t be bothered to re-gather the skirt properly, and just serged the bodice and skirt together, using the (PINNED!!) see-through elastic to gather the skirt up. Needless to say, it was a disaster. I’d stretched the elastic TOO far, and it rolled over on itself. There were sections where I’d managed to pucker the skirt fabric so that it bubbled out and rippled. It was a HOT MESS.
At this point, I turned the air blue around me (what can I say? My dad’s a sea captain. I really can swear like a sailor!) and just left it. Walked away and closed the sewing room door behind me. Which is what I SHOULD have done an hour earlier. 
I wore a different (probably more appropriate!) dress to Mr Cuckoo’s birthday.
Then I came back to it after the weekend. I cut the skirt from the bodice (AGAIN) and decided to just shape the skirt section so that there was no gathering needed, and flared it out to the width I wanted, sewed up the sides, attached bodice to skirt matching up side seams and hemmed the fucker with my twin needle. 
Hehehe, I’m so photogenic!
So, the finished result wasn’t QUITE what I had in mind. If I’d have wanted it to be this shape, I could have just extended the bodice, and I wouldn’t have needed the seam at the waist at all. And it isn’t as flattering as the original dress, as the slight gathering at the waist helps to hide any lower stomach bulge (I am far too lazy to ‘suck it in’). But actually, I REALLY like this dress. The flamingos cheer me up every time I see them. It’s SUPER comfy and stretchy, but when I wear it with tights and boots and a cardigan I feel all ladylike (which is such a bonus for a girl who spent most of her time that weekend playing on ‘Dead Island’ on the Xbox and yelling to her boyfriend ‘OH THAT’S AMAZING! I TOTALLY JUST DECAPITATED THAT ZOMBIE WITH MY METAL KANABO, COME AND LOOK!!!’ Sigh.) 
This dress has already seen a load of wear, both at the weekend AND to work (which is a big deal for me… Don’t ask me why, but I feel very uncomfortable at the idea of ‘dressing up’ for work), with cardigans, or sweaters, with high heels, with flats or with boots. I also wore it last weekend shopping, went into Debenhams and saw THIS:
RedHerring maternity dress. DUDE. I am ON TREND. (But NOT pregnant FYI.)
So, I totally deem this ‘should’ve been really simple, but I managed to fuck it up’ dress a success. What’s more, I’ll probably make some more of them when I find some other jersey material I like. 
Now I really need to finish my THURLOWS. I am perpetually behind on sew-alongs. 


6 thoughts on “FINISHED: Flamingo Renfrew Dress

  1. Oh, man, so sorry about all the annoying mishaps with this dress! It's really cute, though! I love this material! Marie over at A Sewing Odyssey is hosting a giveaway for the same material, and when I commented to enter, I said that I would make a Renfrew dress out of it!


  2. Eerie coincidences here, too. I'm currently working on my OWN Renfrew dress (Renfrew bodice, pleated rectangular skirt), and I just found out I WON Marie's flamingo fabric in her giveaway. I probably won't make a dress out of it, so you're safe from copyright infringement, but it sure is tempting after seeing your version. Love it!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s