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A Fancy Dress for My Oldest

2016 October 3

Fabric comes from the most unexpected places! A few years ago, my neighbor was de-cluttering and showed up at my door with a bag of fabric. Inside were extra cuts of the specialty fabrics used to make the bridesmaid’s dresses at her wedding. Gorgeous soft green satin and a sheer green overlay – and there was a lot of it. (We still have more for another project!) I folded it all and put it on my shelf until inspiration struck. 

I didn’t want to use it for just any project, so it took a few years, but we found a good reason to use it! My youngest was asked to be a flower girl last fall, so my oldest was feeling a little left out, it seemed like a great time to make her a fancier dress. Thankfully I remembered the green fabric, and there was more than enough yardage – it was perfect! This dress emerged, a mashed-up a few patterns, into a simple maxi dress. It was almost floor length last year – but she’s grown since I made it!

All the skills I’ve learned while sewing were tested on this dress. It is definitely different using specialty fabrics. Using the right needle, thread and tension is so important. You can tell that I should have lowered the tension on the side seams, now that the dress is finished and washed a few times, they are a puckering. (Could also be that I didn’t press the dress before we took photos! #reallife)

The skirt side seams are both french seams to prevent fraying. And the hem on the overlay is a baby rolled hem, so it doesn’t look too heavy. I was really grateful for my Janome rolled hem foot here -it has been used in a lot of projects. I would never have thought to do a rolled hem before, so I’m glad they include it standard with a lot of their machines.

The bodice is based on the Secret Garden dress pattern. Since I *love* the low back. It also has a side zipper – so you don’t really see it, which made the overlay look a lot nicer. The bodice overlay was drafted to be about twice as wide as the actual bodice, so it could be gathered. In the end I think I should have added less extra around the armholes – since, if you are a picky perfectionist (#likeme) the gathers pucker a bit much there. I really like how it looks though. And I made it easier on myself by gathering the front and not the back of the bodice. The skirt is self drafted, two large rectangles, gathered at the top and attached to the bodice.

The sash created a bit of a problem. Originally it was supposed to be a big bow in the back. I borrowed the sash pattern pieces from the Oliver and S Fairytale dress. Once they were attached, though, the front of the dress needed a little something – the two layers of gathers just didn’t look right meeting at the waistline. At this point I started feeling a bit ill, all the work to draft, gather and sew the new bodice piece and it didn’t even look good… *insert desperate look here!* Thankfully, the extra-long sash was long enough to be crossed at the back and tied it in a knot on the front – much better, Whew! #ideaforthewin

In the end I’m so happy with the dress, and really happy with our photo shoot. My daughter had fun running around in the field in her ballet slippers, and it was a great almost-fall sunny day. She also felt really special wearing it to the wedding, which was so important. And the fact that my neighbor had given us her special fabric made it even better. I’m glad I can sew nice things for the girls when they need them. Really good memories.

What was something you’ve sewn that has special memories?

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. October 4, 2016

    What a lovely dress! Memory-making is so important. My daughter (now 28) periodically remembers dresses from her childhood – dresses that I made. We had a deal back then – she drew me pictures, and I had to sew up what was in the picture.

    • October 12, 2016

      Thank you so much Irene! I’m so happy your daughter remembers the dresses. I’m hoping my girls do the same :)

  2. Lisa McIsaac permalink
    October 4, 2016

    Next on the agenda is a spooky ghost costume for Hallowe’en. Thankfully that should be an easy one. It seems to be a lot harder to sew for my daughter now that she’s a bit older, her tastes are getting more sophisticated..

    • October 12, 2016

      Hmmm…. spooky is hard! The Anna costume I’m working on is being minutely compared to the online photos as well – who taught them how to use the internet again?! LOL Have fun!

  3. October 5, 2016

    This dress is very beautiful, she looks great in it!

    • October 12, 2016

      Yay! Thanks Mirjam. It has gotten so much wear over the past year. She really loves it too!

  4. October 5, 2016

    wow, what a lovely dress!!! The detail that went into making this! Working with specialty fabric like this can be so touch, but you pulled it off wonderfully. That rolled hem looks perfect! Love that you brought the bow to the front! I know that feeling all too well of having worked so hard on something to feel like it is not coming together as you envisioned. Way to pull it off! Looks fantastic!

    • October 12, 2016

      Thanks Jess! Hand-making can sometimes be nerve wracking – but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t try – ack! :)

  5. Mia Carroll permalink
    November 29, 2016

    She looks so cute in this dress just like a little princess.

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