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An inspiration for
In order to try to avoid the 4 outfits for 12th night rush in January, I decided to get Emmie’s dress done now. I have personally challenged myself to not buy anything new for any of our 12th night clothes this year (although that is not too much of a challenge if anyone were to see my stash.)
So this gown is made from fabric and trim I have had laying around for the last 3 or so years. Upon completion of this dress, Bella mentioned that it would be good for the Showcase, so here it is.
I am afraid I have no in progress pictures of this dress, as I really had no intention of making it into a diary, (I never think of my children’s clothing that way) but I certainly can describe the process.
I started with 4 yards of peach colored dupioni silk from Fabric.com, and 6 yards of white rayon rope trim I got off of
eBay, I can’t remember what I paid for either but I know all together it’s less then $25 as that is the upper limit of what I am willing to pay for children’s outfits.
I only ended up using 5 yards of the trim, so I guess I will have to find something else to do with the
rest. I have been planning on making Emmie a Florentine dress out of this fabric all along, so it wasn’t to hard to come up with a plan for what I intended to do. I had ˝ a yard of a soft cotton shirting fabric with a herringbone weave that was slated for a partlet for me, but decided that Emmie needed it more.
The pattern is one I made for another outfit, and altered to make it more Italian. I changed the seams to side back, and made entirely new sleeves. I decided that because this dress is for a 6 year-old I was going to condense it all into one piece, rather then doing a separate sleeves, partlet, and dress combo. (Anyone who has spent an afternoon looking for a missing sleeve or straightening a messy child every time they run past will understand my pain). Essentially the partlet was sewn in like a yoke, and the sleeves we sewn into the armholes.
The trim, before
the addition of pearls
I sewed the
bodice together first,
adding the trim by machine (which cannot be seen as the trim absorbs
the stitches). Where the trim crossed itself it was messy through the
holes in the trim, in order to deal with this problem I simply
inserted little pieces of the silk in the space and sewed around the
inner circle to pin it down, anywhere that you can see one piece over
another was dealt with this way.
I also ironed
the bodice repeatedly through the whole process; I cannot
overemphasize the importance of ironing while you go in the success of
the final product.
I hand finished
the edges of the yoke and sewed it into the neckline sandwiched
between the dress and the lining. After I finished the dress and took
some of the pictures, Emmie asked me to put pearls on it so I added
them to the bodice in the center of each opening in the trim.
after the addition of pearls
Next I did the
skirt, I added the front
of the skirt first, pleating the sides into the bodice, and then I put
it on my daughter to get the correct hem length, it was at this point
she asked me to please make the back of her dress longer then the
front so she could be “fancy!” Suddenly a train was added to the
plans. I used the width of the 45” wide silk to give me the train
length and simply curved it away from the front panel’s length. The
majority of the fabric went into the back, as that’s where I think
the fullness is at its most beautiful. (The gather was so tight; I
almost couldn’t squish it into the space it needed to go.) I then
sewed the trim down the front and hemmed the skirt with a rolled hem,
(I also ironed it into submission.)
are where I feel I am able to have a little fun with this dress; I like to
experiment with different techniques for my children’s garb, as I don’t like
to take it too seriously. What Emmie is really looking for is a 'pretty, pretty,
princess' dress, not a museum quality historic reproduction, and as such I try
to get the look right, with a little eye to what Emmie will think is beautiful
too. (As long as I am not detracting from the feel of an event with being too
Disney I don’t mind the deviations).
I enjoy quilting, and have
wanted to try applying some of those skills to my renaissance sewing. I was
introduced to a piecing technique called cathedral windows a few years ago and
haven’t managed to try it yet, so I thought this project was a perfect time to
challenge myself with something new. I heavily modified the actual technique
because for quilting you are meant to use squares not strips, but the idea is
The process is essentially
taking 2 bias cut strips, sewing them to each other with large basting stitches,
and flat ironing them away from each other. After attaching a background fabric
tacking stitches are sewn on the seam above and bellow where you want the
opening. The basting is then removed, and you can iron the flaps open, (the
edges are finished from where you folded it after the seam was sewn, and it
stretches into the nice eye shape because of the bias.) You then tack the flaps
back to reveal the under fabric, and iron it again.
I used the “cathedral”
pieces to make the panes at the top of each sleeve, and added a false under
sleeve to puff through the slits. The lower sleeve is just a tapered straight
sleeve with a piece of trim down the top. I hand finished the wrists as they are
visible and sewed the sleeve into the armhole of the gown; the lining is then
tacked in place to give a finished look from the inside. I added 4 silver plated
buttons to the top of each sleeve for the sparkle.
Next I sewed
machine eyelets off-set for spiral
lacing down the back of
her dress (I refuse to do hand sewn eyelets on children’s garb, I
totally respect the people who do, I just won’t), and then I clipped
all my threads. The lacing cords are white silk ribbon.
also added a silver belt in some of the pictures, but I actually
prefer the dress without the belt, I think it fits a little girl’s
waist better to have no belt.
Emmie loves her
dress, she says it’s the nicest one she’s ever had for 12th night.
Some of the pictures are not the best as they were done immediately
after she got home from school, (with school hair and everything). She
is really hard to photograph as she has extremely light sensitive eyes
(it’s that darn beautiful pale blue). Even in the shade and with the
overcast day we were having her little eyes water and she has to look
away a lot because even the reflection off the camera lens is too much
for her. Unfortunately this problem leads to very strained smiles as she
is trying to hard to focus on keeping her eyes open, (or we get closed
eyes with lovely smiles.)
Some of the
pictures were taken on the grounds
of the National Cathedral in Washington DC. All of the pictures were taken by
can contact Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org
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