Monday, July 18, 2016

Two tiny party dresses!

I was delighted to design and sew 2 dresses for my granddaughters second birthday and baptism. These were actually the first garments that  I have sewn for Princess V! She was baptized on her second birthday so I needed to make sure her dresses were conducive to a wiggly toddler that likes to run around. 
Baptismal dress
Party dress , with her mommy!

Once I found a bunch of dress ideas, I consulted with my daughter so that I could get an idea for what she was picturing in her mind. With those ideas I headed to my local JoAnn's to peruse the pattern books, I really needed a good pattern to start from since it has been 26 years since I've sewn a toddler dress! I found several options very quickly. Took some pictures of these, conferred with my daughter again with some design discussion, and picked out a lovely pattern, New Look 6879 by the Simplicity Group.

With a pattern in hand, I ordered a beautiful white lace and 2 different white cotton batistes from Linda at EmmaOnesock for the baptismal dress. The lace is no longer available but this white japanese crushed cotton batiste is and it is what I used for the underlining and lining and is so wonderfully soft and lovely to work with!

Next step was to try and measure a wiggly 20 month old. Hah! That was fun. We had to make it into a game but in the end I got several measurements to give me a good place to start.

Cutting out the muslin in a hotel room while on a business trip!
I made 3 muslins on the dress. (Only one of the skirt but 3 of the bodice) muslin one was such a mess. The neckline was choking her, the fabric was pooling above her diaper and the tummy was too tight. You know little ones with their cute little Buddha bellies!
Changes made on the next 2 muslins included a wedge taken out of the lower back, lowering the neckline, reshaping the armhole and widening the front bodice.  These changes were a little bit guesswork and a little bit measurement based. I did not dare try to pin fit any changes on her. So it was having my daughter pin fit with her fingers and then me marking with a pen where the changes needed to be. This ended up working just fine and making muslins of a tiny dress is an incredibly fast process when compared to making muslins in my size!

playing in the yard in muslin dress #2.
So with muslins completed, changes made and dress length decided I then decided to make a full second dress. You see, there is a party planned for after the actual baptism . This party includes food and cupcakes and since she is turning 2 there is no way to keep her clean when food is involved! This dress also gave me the opportunity to make an actual test dress to make sure we liked the dress before cutting into the fine fabrics from EmmaOnesock.

I had some fabrics in my stash that would have made a perfectly adequate dress but nothing that was inspiring me! I headed to JoAnn's to see if I could find any fun fabrics. And I sure did! Not only did I find some fun fabric but the skirt fabric was a Gertie fabric that was on super sale. I got it for 9.99$ a yard . You can find it here on the website
2nd birthday party dress in progress!

For this dress I mostly followed the directions of the pattern and turns out that I really didn't like how they handled the back. The back of the collar was to be sewn into the back seam with the zipper , they also suggested using a center applied zipper. With this application you had the back collar caught in that seam and you have the zipper stitching seen down the entire zipper. For this party dress that was ok. However, for the baptismal dress I wanted it to be much nicer. The armhole was finished with an orange bias binding that I had in my long term collection and it matched the orange ricrac perfectly. I also hemmed this dress a little shorter than the baptismal dress. She's a tiny little thing so while you may think the dress looks shorter it is really a midi length on her! The ricrac was a lot of fun to work with:)
Playing with her new baby doll in her new party dress.

For the baptismal dress, I underlined each piece of the lace with cotton sateen batiste for the bodice and collar only.  Hand basting these tiny pieces was fairly quick! Only about an hour. Then their is a separate lining also in the cotton sateen batiste. For the skirt there is 3 layers. The lace outer skirt, which I used a narrow 4 thread serged seam and then there is an underskirt of the cotton sateen batiste with the seams going in so there is nothing to see through the lace. The last layer is a slightly shorter layer for a hem with the seams going out. I wanted to make sure there were no seams against her skin. 

My husband said that he had never seen me so worked up about sewing a garment before! I really wanted this dress to be perfect for Princess V and my diligence paid off. 
Gathering the skirt and the underlined bodice and collar pieces.
The collar was not actually how I originally designed. I really wanted the scalloped edge of the lace to fall along the collar but it turns out that with placing the scallop edge along the full skirt I just did not have enough scalloped edge left to work with. It ended up being ok! My daughter really liked this ribbon rose trim and wanted me to use that at the waist as well as along the edge of the collar. Lots of hand sewing on this one!
Several options for embellishment, the final decision was made to go with the ribbon rose trim on the right, single row on the collar and triple row at the waist.
finished dress, perfect for little girl twirling :)

White is so hard to photograph!! The ribbon rose looks more cream in this photo but it really does match the lace as seen in the rest of the photos!

For the zipper, I decided to use an invisible zipper application and finished the Peter Pan collar off separately and did not catch them in the zipper seam. I think this looks much nicer and reduces the bulk under the zipper at the upper back.
Sitting on my lap, such a great photo showing the back detail of the baptismal dress.

This dress is slightly longer and I hemmed the under skirt so that the scalloped edge of the lace would show off the edge. Both the under skirt and the skirt lining were machine sewn and the lining was slipped stitched to cover the zipper and the waist.The armholes were finished with a narrow binding of china silk, this kept everything nice and soft against her delicate skin.
At the church with her beloved nanny, Sasha! I love how this shows off the scalloped border of the lace at the hem.
I really enjoyed creating these dresses, they were made with love!

Happy Sewing!


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