Tuesday, 20 October 2015

KCW - a party dress

Every little girl needs a party dress, right? Well actually, no - not when birthday parties typically involve such activities as trampolining, swimming, racing around play centres and going wild in a giant room full of inflatable things. But do you think I'm going to let the fact that R doesn't need a fancy party dress (complete with tulle petticoat) stop me? No. As the mother of a girl, it is my right to make one, so make one I did!

I wanted a fitted bodice and a full skirt, so I diverged from my Japanese pattern books and bought Dana's First Day Dress. It's such a cute pattern, and seemed perfect for the job. But it turns out the back closure is basically just a small slit with a button, and I could imagine the shrieks of outrage from R as I tried to pull it over her head. I decided to do a little modification and use an invisible zip instead, a nice long one that extends into the skirt. This worked really well and I don't think I'd make the dress any other way now. I also recut the neckline a little to make it lower - this thing has a super-high neck - and I'm happy with this change, too. I fully lined the dress - instructions for this are included in the pattern - and spent an unhappy few hours trying out various ways of adding a layer of tulle between dress and lining. I eventually hit on a solution that didn't look ridiculously bulgy, which was using a folded-over section of cotton lawn for the top part of the tulle petticoat, and gathering the tulle before sewing it to the lawn, sandwiched between the two layers (I have no idea if that makes sense, but it's late, I'm tired, and also I don't really want to revisit the trauma of sewing the tulle). The result is rather nice even from the inside, and it hangs well.

The fabric is Dear Stella Confetti Dot, which I got on sale a while back when I ordered some stuff from Fabricworm. I like it, but fear it may be horribly crinkly once washed. Time will tell! The lining is cotton lawn which is lovely and soft. I bought a few metres so I'd have plenty left for future projects, then wasted most of it making stupid mistakes with the lining. In fact, the litany of errors, blunders and stuff-ups made during the construction of this dress could fill an entire blog post, if not a series of them. Honestly, I'm surprised I emerged from this experience with a decent garment and my sanity (kind of) intact. Marisa's law: whatever can sew wrong, will sew wrong.

I made the bow on R's headband using the Oliver + S felt bow pattern. These things are so quick and satisfying to make - and I know my finger will recover from the glue-gun burn in no time at all. I didn't have any felt, but I think I've found my favourite use for all those scraps of Mexican oilcloth I can't bear to throw away.

How is Kids Clothes Week treating you?  I hope your sewing is not as frustrating as mine has been!


  1. Marisa it's lovely! I completely agree that kids parties are hell on nice dresses. We have one lovely party dress that's permanently covered in tiny grease spots from some agent orange style bubble mix. Aaargh.
    Anyway, you're also right that a good party dress is an essential. This one looks lovely. If you'd known at the beginning you wanted a long, invisible zip fitted bodice and great instructions for attaching a tulle crinoline then I could have pointed you to the perfect pattern. But it's cruel to say that now. :)
    You did great and I bet she loves it as much as I do!

  2. Thanks Shelley :) I think I know the pattern you're referring to, and for the life of me I don't know why I didn't just go buy it - unless it's because Dana's pattern seemed uncomplicated and quick (which it would have been, if I hadn't gone and changed it!). Oh well, next time I'll know which pattern to use!