Monday, February 10, 2014

Toddler Princess Dress: Simplicity 2237

I should sew more things for my little girl!

It is a bit crazy to spend so much time crafting something that will get worn only a few times, but it is totally worth it to see her enjoying something I'm really proud to have made.

This dress was made for a special occasion- a friend's wedding. She wasn't a flower girl, but she sort of stole the show.

I sort of went all-out on the fabrics. The bodice is a japanese plum blossom print from Fabric Tales. It was so exciting to get a package from Japan!

The skirt is 4 layers. The top floaty layer is pink silk organza. The layer under that is white silk charmeuse. Then there is a layer of tulle, and a muslin inner skirt for comfort.

The back is elasticized with a zipper and a simple tie for the halter neck. This is a great design for maximum wear, I'm hoping it will fit her for at least a year.

Overall the dress was pretty straightforward to sew. I did a muslin to check the size, but otherwise I used the pattern straight out of the envelope. I didn't really follow the directions, but I did glance at them to figure out how to get the elastic in the back of the dress. The zipper went in without any trouble at all.

Hemming the organza was a bit of a trick-- I did a simple rolled hem, but I just couldn't get it perfectly straight. I don't think it really matters a lot, it has a beautiful effect all the same. I made the organza layer just a tad longer than the charmeuse, and let the tulle stick out a couple inches at the bottom.

This is one of my favorite things I have ever sewed. And she just looks so totally cute!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Polka Dot Linen Dress: Simplicity 2404

I'm just in LOVE with linen for summer. This is a linen blend woven from Marcy Tilton, who has a fantastic selection of linen fabrics. I chose Simplicity 2404 because it is a classic style- a shaped sheath dress with interesting neck variations. 

Admittedly, I made a lot of changes! I got rid of the pleats, and put in princess seams which I think are more flattering to my figure. I also made the dress a button front, instead of a zipper back. I thought it would be a fun style, and it also has the benefit of making it possible to nurse while wearing the dress, since I have a baby that is still nursing and so few dresses that I can wear without undressing when she is hungry. I also changed the shape of the neckline-- I thought it gave it a bit more of a flirty character, appropriate to polka dots and the first dress of spring. I fit it pretty loosely, with the thought that this would be a casual summer dress, with the linen comfortable on the skin on a hot day. I cut a size 16 B cup graded out to an 18 on the hips and did a sway back adjustment.

Even with all these adjustments, it sewed up pretty quickly... I have mostly been working with knits, and it is actually sort of a pleasure to work with a woven and not have to worry about so much stretch!

The button holes were a challenge though. Up to this point I have completely avoided button holes because I had horrible, ugly, and frustrating results when I was learning to sew as a child! Unfortunatly, the 4-step buttonhole function on my 80s era singer just served to bring back all of that childhood frustration! My best attempts were just ugly, ugly. 

So I bought a vintage buttonholer on ebay for $8+ shipping (the Singer Professional, for a machine with a vertical needle and a zig zag stitch). I sort of can't believe this contraption works, but it does, and BEAUTIFULLY! I made all 11 buttonholes in a row, while keeping one eye on a toddler, and every one is PERFECT, they look better than my RTW garments. I am going to start seeking out patterns with buttons, because it is so much fun. If you have a totally un-fancy base model sewing machine like mine, you should try this!