My latest creation started life as a duvet cover, which I swiftly grabbed in Age UK last week:
But, with the use of this fantastic (free!) pattern from Cottage Mama (you have to sign up to their newsletter to get it), it’s now a beautiful party dress for my five-year-old!
I really enjoyed making this. I even liked cutting the fabric because it’s so pretty!
First of all the pattern is amazing because you only need to print out and stick together two pieces; the bodice front and back. All the other parts are cut by measuring; they’re just rectangles of different sizes. Secondly the instructions are great and ideal for beginners in making clothes like me. The only problems I had were silly little things… luckily I’m not too ashamed to share them with you!
I was just about to get started making the skirt piece when I realised my first mistake. I had cut my first piece just how I wanted it, with the fairies all in a line at the bottom. However silly me forgot to match this with the back pieces. I cut it out with the fairies lined up in the middle, instead of at the bottom. I simply couldn’t sew it’s up like this, so I cut more pieces to ensure the fairies stood proudly all around the bottom of the dress.
I then realised that I had also make a similar mistake cutting out the pieces for the bodice. The exterior pieces were fine but the fairies were out of place (again) for the lining pieces. Obviously this would be hidden but I decided to cut replacements anyway, partly because I forgot to cut out a bodice front for the lining (in my defence, I was cutting out in the day with distractions! Lesson learned!). I decided to make a contrasting lining instead so cut it in the pink spot (which isn’t actually very contrasting due to the background of the fairy fabric being spotty, but hey-ho).
With my pieces finally cut properly I began construction. I was pleased that it all went together really well. I like the band around the hem; I think it finishes the skirt off nicely.
I thought the sash was going to be wider than mine turned out but I like it nonetheless. I love little party dresses with sashes, and I’ve now realised that they’re dead easy to make! The only (very minor) problem I had was getting the needle over the bulk in the corners… I had to manually move it a few stitches so it’s not 100% neat but who’s going to look?
The most irritating step of all was making the strip for the button loops. I don’t have one of those fancy rouleau strap turners so I got really frustrated with the whole thing. The amount of fray in the fabric didn’t help at all. Eventually I found some strong thread and managed to turn it through safely and painlessly… After sitting through a whole episode of a repeated The Great British Sewing Bee with the unturned strip in my hand!
After jumping those hurdles I zoomed along, following the instructions step-by-step. I constructed the bodice using the first set of instructions (if you’re familiar with the pattern that will make sense), which describe a way of sewing the exterior and lining parts together that I haven’t experienced before. When I read it through first I didn’t get it, but when I came to that step it made sense – phew! And it went together really well, so I may remember this method!
Just as I was happily topstitching around the armholes though, disaster struck. I flipped the bodice over to iron it and… an unusual random stain had appeared!! I was devastated. Well, I still am. If it doesn’t come out in the wash I will cry! This means I will have to wash it before my daughter wears it – grr… Just when it’s all nicely pressed.
So, trying to forget about that very unfortunate splodge… with the bodice done, the skirt done, and the sash done, all that was left to do was to put it all together. Easier said than done. Gathers annoy me. You have to trap the top of the skirt between the exterior and lining parts of the bodice, ensuring the gathers are evenly spread and the side seams match (that’s not essential but it would irritate me if they didn’t at least come close!)
Eventually I got it all pinned in place then stitched. It’s not exactly straight and neat, especially on the inside; but that’s where that little gem of a sash comes in. It hides the join 🙂
So, I attached that lovely sash, whacked on a few massive buttons, and here we have it – one pretty party dress!
The only little problem is… I went by the measurements of my daughter as advised by the pattern’s instructions, instead of making her a size 4-5 like she wears usually. She measures a size 2 (!) apart from her height – I was a little unsure about this but went along with it anyway. It’s turned out pretty much the right size, although she did complain that it was too tight at first. This was before I added the buttons; as you can see in the last photo, I made a little gap in the back to loosen it a little… I think it’s sweet. And I did make the length 10cm longer, which I think was a good move. Cheeeeese! 😛
I just love dressing my girls in handmade clothes. Today my little one was wearing the dungarees I made her a few weeks ago. She gets (or I get) so many compliments about them; it’s lovely 🙂
Now I’m off to make another one, slightly smaller, for darling daughter #2 🙂