The moment I saw the Nina Lee Bakerloo dress I was besotted. You know, with That collar. The large be-frilled collar that took all the earliest Millenials back to their childhoods. I don’t even know if I owned any dresses or blouses with a collar that fancy but it’s definitely in my memory as a barn-stormer of a Fashion Moment in the early 80s. Paired with a smock dress and a full, gathered sleeve it was simply irresistible to me, and I was pleased to find out I’d squeeze into the very largest size, a 28.
Isn’t there something very powerful about sewing all the garments we wished we had when we were young and unable to buy clothing for ourselves? I could happily leave the power shoulders of the 80s and early 90s but as for the big neon prints, tiny floral prints, ginormous collars and ruffled hems – come with me, I am taking all of you into my Forties!
I’m working through my stash so when it came to fabric choice I was somewhat limited. I pulled out 5 metres of this cotton print which was only 112cm wide and thanked Past Natalie for buying extra. Because of the narrow width I had to cut the skirt into panels but this was a toile and the busy blue and pink floral would mostly disguise the seams so I wasn’t terribly bothered. The frill would definitely need to be a contrasting fabric to break up the blooming mayhem and fortunately I had just enough plain pink poplin to do the job.
I do have a couple of bones to pick with the Bakerloo. The grading up into the largest sizes went awry somewhere along the line, and the formed dart had a big butt protruding from the side. I even pressed it up to see if it was trued that way but it wasn’t. The side seam of the front thus curved once the dart was constructed so I had to ease it into the straight edge of the back piece. Also the size guide piece for the ruffle is far too short for the size 28 collar. I don’t know if these issues present in the smaller size range but it’s frustrating that they weren’t corrected for the larger sizes because it makes one feel like an afterthought.
Nevertheless, when I hemmed the skirt and sewed on the button (a freebie from a magazine I bought years ago) I was excited to try it on. I slipped it over my head without undoing the button, turned to the mirror and gasped. Could it be the most popular girl in school, with the prettiest dress!? All I was missing was a large poufy fringe and some patent leather shoes.
The fit was really good for a toile, even considering that drafting fumble with the side seam. The collar: absolutely massive. The pockets: functional and mandatory. The print: floral chaos. Where am I going to wear this thing? I don’t know but if there’s a school dance coming up all the other kids are going to eat my sartorial dirt.