As soon as I saw the beautiful samples of the new Fleetwood dress by French Navy I added it to my ‘to make’ list immediately. A button up bodice, cuffed sleeves and a gathered skirt are some of my favourite garment details – add in an interesting yoke and an extra ruffle and I’m in heaven!
During 2020 I have been reducing my stash of dressmaking fabrics by sewing up things I already have and minimising buying fabrics without a specific project in mind. This has been brilliant for my stress levels, but means that when a new pattern pops up I am unlikely to have a fabric at the ready to make it. A shopping trip was therefore in order…!
I had planned a brilliant day out in Margate with Patsy when she was due to visit in October, but the pandemic restrictions meant she was unable to come and we were both absolutely gutted. Much to his delight, I took my husband for a day out instead and we headed to the seaside on the train – first stop, Sew by the Sea! I was thrilled to be chosen as one of the ‘Sew by the Sea Supporters‘ earlier this year – the supporters are a small group of keen sewists who each make one or two garments over the course of the year using their fabrics in order to promote Sew by the Sea. I was scheduled to make a garment in November and was able to choose the fabric for my project as a gift in return for sharing on social media and providing images for use by Sew by the Sea.
I was spoilt for choice with fabric options for the Fleetwood dress, but it didn’t take me long to pick out some lovely chambray for my project. I thought a plain fabric would highlight the pattern details well and the denim colour would give a nice casual vibe to the garment. I chose some unusual buttons that I had bought from Taylor’s in London and a matching sandy coloured thread to add a bit of classic ‘denim shirt’ style top-stitching – I think these details have given the dress a lovely finish and I’m delighted with how it has turned out!
Patsy had also fallen in love with the Fleetwood pattern, so we had a super two day ‘buddy sewing’ session and made our dresses together (228 miles apart). We both made view A in the size B and Patsy used a lightweight denim – twinning is winning! The chambray was lovely to work with – it behaved excellently when cutting and sewing and pressed like a dream. I used a sharps needle after spotting that the 80/12 didn’t pierce the fabric very cleanly when I was stay-stitching – the 70/10 was perfect and I had no further problems. The other thing I noticed with the chambray was the smell – this is perfectly normal and often present in denim fabrics, caused by the chemicals used in the dying process. Although it reduced significantly after pre-washing, I could still smell it when pressing during sewing – I didn’t notice it at all when wearing my dress, however, and I’m sure it will continue to fade with every wash.
I’m really pleased with the fit of my dress – it’s a tiny bit tight in the upper arms, but it’s totally wearable and other than that it’s spot on. Patsy’s version was uncomfortably tight in the arms, so she decided to create a sleeveless hack of the dress – maybe it’s for the best that they aren’t completely identical after all!
I’m so pleased with my finished dress and I definitely think I’ll be making another Fleetwood at some point – I love the shape on me and the fit is really good. I might try a version with a single, longer skirt tier next and perhaps play around with my fabric choice or the direction on those yoke panels – I can’t wait!