Birthday dress

2 years ago my my mum got a much smaller girl a dress for her birthday. It’s green and flowery and she’s worn it lots, on it’s own in the summer and over long sleeve t shirts (when I can persuade her to layer up) in the winter.  Recently it’s been starting to get a bit short and I’ve been trying to gently lead her a round to the idea that it’s days in our house are numbered.

The old (shop bought) birthday dress

The old (shop bought) birthday dress back when it was new

Me:  That dress isn’t going to fit you much longer, we’re going to have to pass it on to one of your friends before long.

Her (with absolute certainty): I will give it away after my birthday. I’m going to get a new dress for my birthday.

I’m being generous and counting her statement as a request.  It’s the only one we’ve had regarding birthday presents so I thought I better oblige. What with me being me and them being ill and half term holidays and all I started it on Friday, 6 days in advance (quite organised for me) and did the finishing handsewing bits whilst watching the Great British Sewing Bee. Get me and my finished item over 24 hours before a deadline!

New birthday dress, made by me

New birthday dress, made by me

  • Design Aim: Similar to her old dress (bodice top, gathered skirt) but a) bigger, b) with pockets and c) with a front fastening (so she can get it on and off herself, after all I don’t have any clothes I can’t get on and off myself).
  • Pattern: I just traced around the bodice of a dress that fitted (irritatingly I couldn’t find the green one) and made is a little wider and a bit longer. After cutting those bits out the rest of the fabric cut easily into two rectangles that seemed a good length/width for the skirt. I hesitate to call it a self drafted pattern, that seems to grand. I did “draft” the patch pocket (which is a little too deep) and I used my previously drafted pocket bags that I made for her school pinafores.
  • Construction Method: I cut 2 of each bodice piece as I wanted a lined bodice. I knew there was a way of sewing them togehter so that all the raw edges were on the inside (with just raw edge at the bottom to attatch the skirt too) because clearly that’s how the dress I was copying was made. I scratched my head tring to work out the topology, I think I was just about there, but then I resorted to the internet and found this lovely tutorial. (I also looked at a sewaholic tutorial that I now can’t find, grr.). The skirt was just gathered at the top and sewn to the outside of the bodice and then the inside of the bodice was handstitched on the inside
  • Any Problems? Gosh, where to start… I cut one of the back pieces by placing the front pattern piece on the fold, so it ended up too wide (as the front pieces overlap for the buttons), of course I didn’t notice this until I tried to sew them together. And I didn’t have any more fabric to cut another piece out so the back piece on the lining has a seam down the middle and the back neckline had to be lowered slightly to match the front. The topstitching accross the top of my patch pocket is in a noticably lighter thread (that was in my bobbin) as I sewed it upside down. I meant to use french seams on the skirt sides but sewed my fabric and pockets wrong side together by m so I just finished them with my overlocker foot instead. I initially sewed the skirt on upside down, with upside down pockets near the bottom. I think there were a couple more but this is getting boring now. The moral is don’t sew when you’re tired!
  • materials: 1 m of some fabric from IKEA , I think it’s cotton, it might be called Rosalie. It’s pink with randomly spaced red dots, like a polka dot pattern that’s been shaken. It’s also a little on the stiff side, I’m pretty sure I prewashed it so that shouldn’t be sizing. The very cool buttons that really make it are from her Great Grandmas stash, they’re red plastic hexagonals, a little shiny, with a loop on the back to attatch them rather than holes (hmm, sure there must be a technical term for that).
  • result?: Thumbs up from her and looks like there’s some growing room so if I’m lucky this one will last 2 years too!
  • concentrating face

    concentrating face

    5 thoughts on “Birthday dress

    1. You should be chuffed. It looks like she had a very happy birthday in her new dress – made just for her!

    2. The new dress is so pretty (even if the sewing process was less than smooth – I always make horrendous mistakes if I am tired). My children used to become extremely attached to clothes too. Maybe when it’s something that just feels like ‘them’. Hope her new dress meets that criteria!

    3. Thank you for your lovely comments, she chose to wear it at her birthdhay party so I think its a winner.

    4. Pingback: Prolific Project Starter | Leopards don’t change their spots

    5. It’s a lovely, classic dress!

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