F2940: Venus in Leo

Ah, the annual birthday dress! This is fast becoming something I really look forward to sewing and this year it was all about sequins – a) because I love them, b) it’s my birthday and c) Frocktails was on Saturday night just past, meaning I needed something a bit flashy and fun to wear! It was an epic night – 28 other sewing bloggers rocked out in some gorgeous dresses, with ladies as far as the ACT, Tasmania, AND Queensland all hitting Melbourne for the weekend. A delicious dinner and many many cocktails were enjoyed by all, not to mention the serious sewing skills on display! More on that a little later…

Marfy 2940

But first, the dress! It’s a navy blue matt sequin fabric, which in the main – sewed very easily. The underside of the fabric is kinda scratchy (and see through!) so I lined it all in a navy blue viscose knit – both fabrics from Tessuti.

The pattern is Marfy 2940 – I actually have two more versions of this dress mid-way through construction right now (including that red version I mentioned a while back). The only reason this one is finished over the others is because, well – I put a deadline on it! In comparison to the other versions which I hope to be able to show you soon, this is a slightly modified take on the design lines provided by Marfy. The two contrast panels at the waist in the dress sketch below are actually overlays to the dress pattern and not ‘structural’- the pattern is effectively a simple sheath dress with darts emanating from the waistline for shaping and a zip up the centre back. In order to minimise mixing seams and sequins, I took out the centre-back seam (and zip) and the horizontal waist seam, cutting the dress out in four pieces (front, back and sleeves) and leaving the stretchiness of the mesh backing the sequins to take the hit for fit.


Marfy 2940 1

I had no idea how the sequins were going to handle the ‘draping’ at the front, so to test before cutting I thread traced then hand sewed them all together. It came up really nicely (albiet being seriously upstaged by the sequins) so I decided to push ahead with the rest! I liked how neatly the pleats came together with hand sewing as opposed to machine sewing, so the darts were also sewn by hand. Yeah… this dress took a long time to sew.

Marfy 2940 2

Marfy 2940 6

Marfy 2940 9

Thank you all for your tips and hints on sewing with sequins – I took them all on board and it worked a treat for me:

– Sewing with the biggest, fattest machine needle for knits I could easily get my hands on (a 90/14 jersey needle from Schmetz) and on a low speed so the sequins could be gently ‘pushed’ out of the way rather than broken through. I still went back over the seams to check from sharp/damaged sequins but found none.
– Cutting out with regular (but sharp) paper scissors so as not to ruin my good shears.
– Using a fabric facing to hem the dress so as not to catch sequins on stockings should I decide to wear them.

To that list, I will add my own recommendation. If you’re not wearing safety goggles/glasses whilst cutting, then make sure you cut with the sequins facing down. I initially didn’t and had quite a few of those micro sequins flick up in my face (and everywhere else) but didn’t think much of it. An hour or so later and my eye started tickling. I had a hunch on the reason why… and look what I found!! Yes, a half-cut sequin, happily lodged in my eye. Thinking about what may have happened there had I not got it out before it slipped into my eye socket gets my heart rate up a little!!! Thanks to a steady hand and some tweezers that sucker was removed, sans injury.

I would recommend this pattern for stable knits (like ponte) to minimise issues with fit as I barely made a single change to the ponte version I have half complete of this, whereas the weight of the sequins changed the location of the waistline and darts by dragging it down. I had to take it in quite a bit, too. To keep everything in place, I stab-stitched the sequin mesh and lining together around the neckline and sleeves.


This dress is a definitely not a shrinking violet, and I certainly can’t see it getting as much wear as last years birthday dress… but hey. Sparkly!!

Time for some gratuitous pictures from Frocktails!!

Frocktails 1
Kat from Petticoats and Peplums, Liz from Busy Lizzie In Brissie and Amanda from Bimble and Pimble
Frocktails 2
Bel from Bella’s Collectanea, Rachel from My Messings, and Kat (organiser extraordinaire) from All the Whimsical Things
Frocktails 4
Helen from Funkbunny, Amanda from Bimble and Pimble, Nicole from DreamingDashie, Kat from Petticoats and Peplums and from Jenny from Rennous Oh Glennus
Frocktails 5
Renae from The Long and Winding Bobbin and Rachel from Boo Dog and Me
Frocktails 6
Liz from Sew Busy Lizzy and Amanda from Bimble and Pimble
Frocktails 7
Kat from Petticoats and Peplums, and Rachel from My Messings

So much fun! All photos from the night have been uploaded to my Flickr stream, so if you’re keen to have a look, pop on over there.

Oh, and one more super exciting thing…. Mr poppykettle proposed – we’re getting married!!!!

Marfy 2940 5

The Stats:
00:00 Pattern Preparation
00:00 Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
03:55 Fabric Preparation (thread tracing/cutting/basting/interfacing)
14:45 Sewing
18:40 hours

Fabric Utilisation = 3.6m (none from the stash, sadly!)
Stash total remains = 79.9m (Goal = 50m)



  1. Oh my goodness!! Too much information to absorb in this post!! Happy Birthday first of all, and wow, what a dress you made! Looks like you did a top notch job with the sequins they all seem to be behaving and in line!! It looks just fabulous on you! And, great pics from Frocktails, I am quite disheartened not to have been able to join you all, it sounded like so much fun. And, finally, congratulations on your and Mr. P’s engagement!! So….many…..things…….must…..breathe. :)

    1. Seriously. I agree with Gjeometry. This post was filled with quite a lot! Sequins. Your birthday. Hand sewn darts. A fabulous meet up. And, a proposal! Congratulations on it all! Woohoo!

    2. Goodness… it is a lot, isn’t it? Perhaps I should have split some it up!! Too late now :) Thank you, thank you and thank you! And please, don’t stop breathing – that would be horrible!

  2. Congratulations! An happy birthday… and g’damn, that’s a hell of a dress! I lvoe seeing the Frocktail photos… it’s somehow mind blowing that so many faces I recognise are in one place together!

    1. Thanks Gillian! I’ll admit I still get a warm glow when thinking about all of the IRL friends I’ve made from other sewing blogs. We really are so fortunate to be able to reach out to other likeminded souls like this! If you’re ever in Melbourne, you know we’ll host one in your honour ;)

  3. Look at you being all sneaky with your news… :) Congratulations! And I’m loving your gorgeous sequin dress, thanks for consolidating those tips.

  4. It is gorgeous!!! Definitely worth all the time and effort. I love the idea of making a special birthday dress every year. Congrats on you engagement! Your ring is stunning. 💍

    1. Thank you Amy! Couldn’t agree with you more on the time and effort invested. I may not get to wear it very often, but just knowing it’s there in the cupboard brings a smile to my face. And yes!! I’m absolutely head over heels with my ring :) Cheers!

  5. Oh my gosh. Such wonderful news, congratulations!!! And the dress is absolutely gorgeous, I’m such a sucker for anything sequins. I really like the idea of making a special birthday dress every year.
    Ugh, I’m so happy for you!!

  6. Sequins? BAM. Sexy jealousy-inducing frocktail piccies? BAM. Bling bling? BAM KAPOW. I feel like I’ve just been on an eye candy rollercoaster of the best kind. INCREDIBLE dress (you are a fox) and congratulations! xxoxoxoxox

  7. whaaaaat?!?! congrats you! sneaking that in at the end… will there be wedding dress making? so exciting!! :D

    you look amazing in that dress! it’s just perfect–worth all the hand sewing. and whoah, glad your eye is okay!

    1. Oh absolutely – too much of a fabulous opportunity to sew something a bit special to turn down :) Thanks so much Lisa! And yep – that rogue sequin got a little too close for comfort… thank all that’s good I found it before it was too late!

  8. Congrats on the engagement and the dress! It looks fantastic on you and I love the sequins! Great info about sewing with them too, and thank goodness your eye is ok.
    Happy birthday too!

  9. I was all excited by your dress… Oooh, pretty, sparkly, another awesome Marfy… But then the last photo caused me to literally flail in excitement. Congratulations! I am so happy for you!

  10. I agree… too much exciting stuff in there. Big congrats on the engagement. Your ring looks devine. Your dress is stunning! Thanks for the tips on sewing with sequins. I will definitely remember to protect my eyes when I cut into my sequins for my sewing dare dress. Frocktails looked enormously fun and I must get in on the action next time.

    1. Thanks so much Kirsty!! Can’t wait to see how your sewing dare dress turns out – sequins are totally addictive! We’ll be looking forward to having you down for the next Frocktails, then? ;) That would be awesome!

  11. Congrats on your birthday and especially engagement! Thanks for some extra tips for sewing with sequins – I will use some of those especially hemming with a different fabric! Oh and beautiful sparkly dress! It is much easier than you think to sew with sequins isn’t it.

  12. You’re so fabulous. It’s stunning. I really look up to your skills. And a massive congrats on your engagement! Being married is awesome… bet you’re going to make your own dress right?

    1. I think that’s a bet you’re sure to win… so make sure you bet big on it, ok? hehe, thanks so much Jo – if it’s any consolation… your knitting skillz intimidate me ;)

  13. Congratulations Melanie on your engagement; Mr poppykettle has made an excellent choice. Your ring is beautiful and looks divine on your finger. Now you will have to start the lovely process of planning your wedding gown and going to Baltimore to study under Susan will be a great place to begin.
    By the way, your blue sequin birthday/Froctails dress is gorgeous. It looks like you girls all had a wonderful night and really had fun.

    1. Thanks Majorie! I certainly think so :) And yes – absolutely! It’s all part of the plan. Next year we’re thinking about organising Frocktails in Sydney – you should come!!

  14. Congrats on your engagement!! Love the sequins! That dress would also be awesome for a bachelorette party when you have yours :) and I love seeing all the photos that looked like a fun night!

  15. Congratulations! Must have been the dress :) Gorgeous dress and some beautiful photos of you. Looks like your night out was fun too.

  16. Hey! Congratulations! Seriously, it’s the most inspirational, positive and sparkly post I’ve read in months! Fancy Frocktail party – you ladies rock! I am also very envious of your de-stashing efforts: instead of doing the same (which I promised to myself last year) I only buy more *SIGH*

    1. Hi Inna! Why thank you :) I do love a bit of good news! Hangon… no, make that a LOT of good news ;) It was such a fabulous night out with all the sewing bloggers! I have to admit though – destashing is almost as much fun as buying new fabric, so I don’t blame you there! Just think of it as a collection, rather than a stash. Some people collect stamps… we collect fabric!

  17. So much bling for one post!

    I know I was probably a little bit gushy on Saturday, it’s just that this dress is SO spectacular! And even more spectacular on you!! Perfect combo of pattern and fabric, right there.

    And now I’m heading over to flickr to check out all the madness :)

    1. Yeah, it’s a lot of sparkle! And no, not at all – I have a high tolerance for gushing :) I was eyeing off the gorgeous fabrics your dress was made from – love those grey swirls! Thanks Jenny, and I look forward to catching up with you again real soon! x

  18. Wowsers! The dress…. the ring!!!! It is stunning! How did I miss that on Saturday night? I absolutely cannot wait to hear of your wedding dress plans – congratulations!

    1. Thanks Rachel! It’s been a few months now and I’m only JUST starting to not feel very, very conscious of it. To start with it felt like everything I did shoved it in peoples faces! And don’t worry, there will definitely be wedding dress plans!!! Cheers once again!

  19. Oh my!
    check out that rock! congrats, so exciting :-)
    Can’t wait to see some wedding dress posts EEEK!
    And as for that blinging dress. So amazing.
    I must say it was a billion times better in person if that is at all possible!!!
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Eeee thanks Renay! It was SO lovely to meet you (albiet briefly) on Saturday night :) And yes, there will be wedding dresses galore!! At least that will be easier to photograph than sequins! hehe x

  20. Wow, wow, wow! Amazing dress, fabulous news and great photos. I sure missed what looked like a good shing ding. To console myself I focusing on next year… surely this will be an annual event?

  21. So many congratulations are in order.
    Firstly on your birthday.
    Secondly on such a beautiful dress.
    And last, but definitely not least, on your engagement. Wonderful…and a stunning ring.

  22. Oh wow, killer dress! This looks amazing! I love all your garments– all the work you put into them is always so apparent. And CONGRATULATIONS! That is so exciting!!!!!

  23. WowWowWow!! So much going on!! First of all – Happy Birthday and CONGRATS on your engagement!! Super exciting news!! And that dress… what a stunner! The color is beautiful on you, and just… so. shiny….!!!! I’m always amazed by how meticulous and loving your work is on your garments. You are truly one-of-a-kind. Also, looks like a fantastic party! Fun!

  24. Congratulations on your birthday, engagement & gorgeous dress!

    I wish Frocktails were being organized when I lived in Melbourne in 2006 – looks like you all had so much fun!!

    1. Thanks Anne-Rose! I wish I had of thought to get back into sewing in 2006… then we could have had many Frocktails since! Ah well – there will definitely be future events just like it :)

  25. Wow that’s a gorgeous dress! Love what you did with that pattern! I’m a huge fan of sequins so I’m hoping to sew something like this soon! And congrats on your engagement :)

    1. Hi Ayida! You absolutely should – their so much easier to sew with than you might think (although don’t quote me – that probably depends on the type of sequin fabric you sew with!) and gosh, such a fun thing to wear! I’ll keep an eye out for when you debut your sequin frock ;)

      1. Well I’m gonna remember that cause it seems like quite a challenge with the cuttting. And also finding the right kind of fabric, somehow the fabric stores around where I live don’t carry this kind of sequined fabric, just the one with the kind of stud-like sequins glued to the cloth with a lot of space between them, you know what I mean? I don’t like that, I want glits and glam! But I’ll definitely let you know, it hopefully will be something a lot like yours haha :)

    1. Very much so – Thanks Leisa! Certainly practising techniques for the wedding dress, there’s not quite enough time for me to decide on what to do before Camp Couture. Ah well!

  26. Such a striking dress! Now tell me, how did I miss your ring? Must have been too excited about everything else, I knew you were engaged and then didn’t even think to check out the bling!! It’s stunning. I’m looking forward to seeing all your wedding dress plans.
    You know…if Frocktails next year coincides with your wedding you could have 30 bridesmaids all in matching (handmade) dresses!! You could set the Bridesmaid Challenge – hehe

    1. Thanks Lizzy! haha, It’s been a few months now so I’m not as self-conscious of it as I was when I first started wearing it – I felt like everything I did shoved it in people’s faces! Gosh… 30 bridesmaids. Can you even begin to imagine????? HA!!

  27. Super cool dress! I’ve actually been thinking about sewing a stretch sequin dress I just haven’t been able to find fabric in my price range!

    1. Thankyou! Keep your eyes peeled… I came across some fabulous sequinned wonders at bargain prices in my hunting – sadly they weren’t my colours though. They’re super fun to sew with!

  28. Oh my gosh, congrats, congrats, congrats!!! So happy for you guys. I was all set to comment on how beautiful the dress is, but your engagement news threw me off! haha :) You will be such a beautiful bride!

  29. Wow, so much excitement! Happy birthday, what a beautiful dress – and what a sexy fabric and amazing colour! Frocktails looks like such brilliant fun, wish I’d been there :). And finally congratulations on your engagement – wow! – will you make your wedding dress, or a reception dress?

    1. Thanks Gabrielle! I was really worried about how it would photograph… but I think I wasted energy worrying over that as it came out quite well, ha! Heads up for you – we’re thinking of doing it in old Sydney town next year ;) And yes, there will absolutely be wedding dress sewing action on this here little blog very soon!!! x

  30. OMG this is a gorgeous dress (and woman too!). The outing looks like a lot of fun & wish I could be there too! You’re correct, there were a lot of nice dresses there! Happy Birthday and Congratulations on your engagement! I can’t wait to see the wedding dress, I bet it’s going to be absolutely stunning!

    1. Thanks so much Myra!! It was a fabulous night out – friends who love sewing as much as we do are the best! I can’t wait to see what the wedding dress ends up being, either :)

  31. It sounds like a fabulous night – you look gorgeous, love the sequins and congratulations on your engagement. I knew there was an extra sparkle in your eye :)

  32. Your dress was absolutely stunning! You definitely do justice to the sequinned frock. I had such a fun weekend. Thank you so much for making us all feel so welcome!

    1. Awww thanks Kat!!! And you are absolutely more than welcome – it was awesome to have you and Imogen (such a gorgeous bub!) down to visit!! Can’t wait to do it all again, and soon ;)

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