Violette Easter Dresses (+ Tips for Sewing Insane Amounts of Tulle!}
Ummm… so maybe I went a bit overboard with this year’s Easter dresses! But before we get to that…
Last week was March Break with busy-ness and lots of fun. I was excited that we had a very manageable work week! It is SO encouraging for me that they are old enough to play more easily while I work. Less interruptions while “Mommy is working” means more efficient working hours for me and better-spent time with them!
Last week we managed to go to a Raptor’s D-league basketball game, take the kids out to Zootopia (super cute) and, after a warm photo shoot yesterday (thanks to the arboretum) we spent the day at the Royal Ontario Museum. Unfortunately, it has ended with a feverish little one in the house. Hopefully she will be feeling much better soon!
Back to Easter… these dresses are absolutely amazing, if I’m can say so myself! It’s not all of my hard work, but the pattern (and the girls!) that steal the show. These are made with the Violette dress pattern from Violette Field Threads. For the last two years I’ve gone to their patterns to make a special dress for each of the girls to wear on Easter Sunday. But I have to say, last year’s Annabelle dresses have nothing on these!
The construction is really simple, but I recommend that you save up your patience to sew them. I sewed two 9/10 width dresses and each one has about 43 yards of gathered tulle in the skirt! The gathering is a bit tedious, it took me about 3 hours to attach the first layer (there are 4 on each dress). Thankfully I learned and used a slightly faster way for the other layers and got through the last few more quickly – meaning about 45 min-1 hour each. I’ve collected a few tips from my experience below!
The fabrics I used for the bodices and peplums are super fancy “scraps” I had available in my stash. Pieces I couldn’t really make into anything else. My youngest is especially excited to tell everyone that hers is gold silk! The light teal one is a bit sparkly as well, but I’m not sure what the fabric is. It is really nice to work with, though and does not wrinkle easily.
The tulle was tricky because I couldn’t find an exact match for the bodice fabrics and had to get creative. Rose pink for the gold dress with one gold bottom layer, and mostly sparkly silver with one cream top layer for the teal dress. The lining is long enough that these dresses aren’t scratchy which is nice. I was worried the girls would complain about that.
I think I would make this pattern again, but maybe with a fabric skirt. The instructions for that are included and are a little less involved! This is a really cute dress though and I love the wider front neckline and lower back with two buttons. Only word of warning is keep your tulle away from anything stickery, like Velcro. My oldest now has a few holes in the top gathered layer that we are going to creatively fix before Sunday!
8 Tips for How to Sew Insane Amounts of Tulle More Quickly!
1) Leave plenty of time to sew. Be patient and don’t expect to rush. Each tulle layer takes between 1/2 hour and 1 hour to sew. Find a good podcast or Netflix show to distract you and JUST-KEEP-SEWING!
2) Clear off the work area near your sewing machine. Tulle yardage takes up a lot of space and it is not fun to stop and catch falling notions and collect small threads from your tulle. Trust me, they stick really well!
3) Fill at least 4 bobbins before beginning so they are ready . Then you won’t have to switch tasks or re-thread your machine as often.
4) It is helpful to mark the centre of the tulle before sewing so you can match up the gathering properly to the lining. It would be amazing to do this while you are buying the tulle, otherwise you need a really long hallway to cut it into lengths properly. It would be great to buy your tulle already cut and labeled in the various layer lengths if your fabric store will do that for you.
5) The layers are made up of a back and a front skirt piece. It is helpful to sew only one side seam before gathering. The second side seam can be sewn after the gathering stitches are sewn.
6) It was most helpful to use dental floss to gather the tulle layers. I used my rolled hem foot to keep the floss in the center of a wide zigzag stitch. You can even stop every so often to gather up the tulle behind the presser foot. This saves space and yards of floss. I tried to use ribbon this way, but the floss was really effective, strong and slippery to gather more easily. And of course, BONUS – your project will smell minty fresh!
7) I gathered with a 3/8″ seam allowance and then placed the tulle according to the edge (not the gathering seam). This way you can remove the dental floss before going on to the next layer.
8) Pin, Pin and pin again! The more pins you add when attaching the tulle to the lining, the easier it is to sew. I pinned the previously sewn tulle layer first, then added the new one above it and pinned the tulle down flat there as well. Really helpful when you are arranging so many layers inside of your machine.