I may not have had a new dress for Easter this year, but my daughter certainly did. It all started with a shopping trip that yielded outfits for my sons for this past Sunday, but nothing that fit my daughter well. Even worse, all of the dresses she liked were in the toddler section because they get satins and tulles and all of the fun things in life. The girl’s section on the other hand was a wasteland of garish prints and textured knit dresses. Being that it was spring break, I offered to take her fabric shopping and make a dress that fit.
The fabric she picked was a matte satin from Jo-Ann’s Casa collection in the color Georgia Peach with a lace overlay from same fabric collection in the color Peach Melba. The plus side to using up fabric immediately instead of aging it in the stash is remembering things like that. Her inspiration dress had an interesting texture, so when she wouldn’t leave the lace alone, I offered to use it as an overlay. I don’t know what possessed me to offer because I’ve NEVER worked with lace before. I bought everything on Monday, so it’s not like I had a huge amount of time to work with either considering it had to be completely done by bedtime Saturday night. Then we went through the books. The dress she liked at the store had three inverted pleats down the front and a jewel neckline. There were not a lot of options that had any pleats, so I was going to use a Simplicity pattern with the right neckline, but they didn’t have it in her size. Or what I thought was her size at any rate. So she agreed to the square neckline of the McCall’s and we were in business.
Measuring her, she is a size seven, but with the chest measurement of the size six, so I cut a straight size seven to start. Um, my daughter is ten and a half and apparently is tiny. I used view B, where the hem hits 35 1/2 inches below the base of the neck, so I had no worries that it would be too short, which the only reason she outgrows store bought clothing because otherwise she still fits okay in size 7 clothes from Kohl’s. I cut the lace on the cross grain and then she decided she wanted the scalloped edges to be the hemline. Because I clearly was begging to take on more work for this, right? The first time she tried on the dress, it fell down to her waist. The shoulder straps were way too wide for her frame and the dress gaped through the entire bodice. I ended up taking 3 inches out of the front by deepening the pleats and another 2 inches from the back, which happily brought the shoulder straps up off of her arms. The sleeves are self lined and then sewn to the bodice last per the instructions, which would have been way too messy for my tastes, so I didn’t do that.
No, I was slipstitching that lining down at 10pm Saturday night. What was I thinking? I hate slipstitching with the fire of a thousand suns. It took three failed attempts before I figured out how to keep it from shifting in relation to outer fabric, but I finally found the right pinning strategy to make it work. Oh, note on the sleeves- I hate when set in sleeve patterns have two inches of sleeve cap length to ease in, but when it’s like that on a kid’s sized armescye, that’s true levels of pain. This fabric did not want to ease one bit, but I was mostly able to make it work. The few spots that were less than perfect, the lace hid it well enough that I was willing to let it go. But really, I loathe the excessive sleeve cap ease that most patterns draft for.
In sewing the dress, I kept the lace sewn in with the satin through the bodice, but wanted it to hang freely though the skirt. So for the three vertical seams, side and center back, I used French seams to keep the lace tidy. Then I pinned the cut selvage from the lace to even it with the dress hem, which I did first, and stitched it down. I started so diligently with hand needle and thread but realized that you could still see the stitching and I wanted to eat dinner that night, so I machine stitched the top scallop down and trimmed away the excess. I think it looks good enough considering I didn’t cut for this and would have had difficulty because the bottom edge of the pattern pieces were curved.
She is very happy with how her dress turned out, and it was fabulous for today’s White House Easter Egg Roll. My husband managed to get tickets from work, so we spent the afternoon on the South Lawn of the White House. I’m not normally one for hard boiled eggs, but the Egg Pops (hard boiled eggs on a stick) were fantastic. It was a really neat experience, and I’m glad that my kids got to go.