The “Gone Tribal” FELA dress | Adey Lim
Fabric: Two different tribal print fabrics 2.5 metres from Spotlight $15 and a fat quarter ikat print fabric $2 for bias tape
Pattern: Butterick 5209 Retro reissue
Year: c. 1947
Notions: invisible zipper
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: October 2011
Wear again? Yes:)
Total Cost: ~$17
Having watched Miss Saigon twice, I was contemplating sewing a Vietnamese Ao Dai for this week's challenge. But, after an internet search on broadway musicals, what attracted me was something completely different.
I was instantly attracted by the exotic mix of colors and prints in the tribal dresses from FELA, a musical I have not watched. Based on the musical genius of Nigerian Fela Anikulapo Kuti, FELA has won three 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Costume Design in a musical. I wanted to experiment with the use of different fabrics for a mix of print and was very curious as to how this would translate from on a 40s vintage sewing pattern.
Butterick 5209 was a pattern I have used before. I sewed the version with sleeves last autumn and have been wanting to try the halter version of the dress. There're advantages in using a pattern for a second time. For the midriff front and skirt front, I cut the pieces on fold instead of two separate pieces so there would not be a centre front seam while taking 3cm off the centre seam allowance. The version with sleeves fitted all right but I found that the halter version had way too much ease and made major adjustments for the back midriff pieces and halter piece. The dress was not difficult to come together but all these fitting adjustments took up quite a bit of time.
Three different fabrics were used in this project. A blue and beige tribal print for the bodice and midriff, a pink and beige ikat print for the bias tape. Using the bias at the collar, sides and back of halter meant I could skip the lining. The third blue, brown and brick colored tribal leaves print was used for the skirt. It's the first time I've made my own bias tape so I particularly liked the contrast of the ikat print bias with the bodice.
When I first saw the pattern cover, I really wondered if ladies in the 40s wore sandals like those worn by the model in the halter dress. I simply couldn't imagine sandals with this dress at that time. So, I could only cluckle when I found myself pairing my gladiator sandals with the tribal dress.
FELA's reviews looked really good! A highly energetic musical is definitely my cup of tea. While I have no idea if I'll get a chance, I certainly hope to one day watch the musical that inspired this dress.