Monday, April 12, 2010

Post Easter Spring Dresses

Ryan and my new favorite show is Kitchen Nightmares.  Just finished watching it and now all my thoughts are in an English accent.  So weird.  Same thing happened last Friday night, when I took my family to my 10-year mission reunion.  We ran into a family visiting from England w/their 4 children, of whom the father was in my Mission Training Center district.  Our kids were the same ages and played together all night.  We talked about American restaurants they should try, living here vs. there.  The rest of the night, ah tho' ah waz 'n England while driving home. 

Well, onto the sewing...
The dress on the left is pattern Simplicity 2711, view A.  The pattern was $1 at Joann during their worth it.  I found the linen fabric on Joann's red tag shelving...$2/yard, and it was the end of the bolt, so I got an extra discount.  I originally envisioned a pale yellow fabric for this pattern, but 100% linen at less than $2/yard is a steal. 

I made a few little changes from the pattern.
  • The bodice pattern calls for 5 little pleats (meant to look like pintucks?).  I skipped the middle pleat to leave room for 2 little vintage buttons (if you notice they're not exactly alike, but close enough).  I also slipped some vintage lace in between pleats on either side.  I wondered if the bodice would be too busy with buttons, pleats, lace, and ruffles, but it actually looked alright in the end.  I'm such a go-getter.
  •  Instead of gathers where the skirt and bodice meet, I made one box pleat, same on the back.
  •  I added a slip/lining on the skirt/bottom half (using my coral pink Ikea As-Is sheet again), just due to the see-through-ness of the fabric:

What I'd do differently next time:
  •  The neckline calls for single-fold bias tape you then topstitch ~3/8" down.  This was my biggest challenge, time-wise.  I tried 3 different bias tapes I had before making my own.  Looking at the finished product, and even at the girl on the pattern cover, I think the bias tape is too bulky (essentially 6 layers of fabric) and pushes the neckline away from the body.  Next time, I will do a full lining (excluding the sleeves), especially since I already did a skirt lining.  The more girls dresses I do, the more I realize that full lining is usually my preference.  It makes the seams look nicer, it's easier than fussing with bias tape or rolling necklines over, plus, the dress is a little weightier and drapes better.
   •  Also, the neckline is a little too large/low for the size dress it is, so I'd make it smaller/not so low next time.
  •  Use a serger.  I'm still sewing-machine-only, and with linen and all its threadies, it's a mess.  Plus, I have to zig-zag over all the raw edges, adding more time.  When I bought the linen at Joann, another customer in line asked what I was making with "that beautiful fabric."  When I told her, she said, "Oh, good luck with linen and all of the threads," and walked away.
  •  Use a ruffler foot instead of basting and pulling.  Another time-cheater.
  •  I might put an invisible zipper down the back instead of a top button.  I made the dress a little long so Keira can wear it again next year, but she already has a hard time getting her arms into the sleeves while putting it on.
I used a hair rubberband to make the loop--didn't quite get what the pattern wanted me to use.

All in all, I think this pattern is great.  The dress cost me around $3.50 to make, including the thread & pattern.  Can't beat that.  I love that Keira gets to see me make it and try it on as we go.  It makes it more special to her (no staining or playing outside in it...right?).  It's all ironed and nice in these photos, but I look forward to washing it again and seeing it wrinkle and bubble up (I pre-washed and tumble dried it before cutting/sewing).  When I was buying the fabric, another lady I chatted with recommended I pre-treat the linen with spray starch to keep it from wrinkling too much.  I told her I liked the wrinkles linen makes, she thought I was crazy, but at least she didn't walk away and kept on chatting with me.  I am learning to enjoy my encounters with older fellow sewists.

Onto Kalei's dress...It was made from a vintage pillowcase.  Before I started my sewing rampage a couple of years ago, I asked someone to sew a few dresses for me.  Ryan's sister's MIL, Alma Hernandez, is a veteran seamstress of like 40 years.  I found a vintage pillowcase dress pattern and ordered a few vintage pillowcases for her to sew up for me.  This blue and white pillowcase didn't make the cut at the time, so I've had it on my shelf.  When Kalei was still in the womb--or maybe a few days old--I envisioned her playing in a dress with lots of pleats, made of the pillowcase fabric.

I tried to stay true to my "vision," as time would allow.  I used another dress she wears to get the general sizing, but the pleating on the bodice and hem are my doing.

My poor boy didn't have anything Mommy-made to wear along with the girls to church today.  I had hoped to make him a bow tie out of Kalei's dress scraps, but didn't have the time.  While taking photos of the finished dresses, he said this was his outfit...I'll have to make him a bow tie soon.


  1. Love these dresses! Oh to be able to sew clothing.

  2. i adore the soft pink linen for Keira's dress. the button, lace and pleats (for the bodice) doesn't look or feel busy. good call on the buttons and lace.

    kalei's dress is beautiful, it's very baby gap. i love baby gap. the baby blessing dress i got for Olivia kind of looks like kalei's dress, except it's ivory. i really like the pleats at the bottom of the dress, so fresh, haha :D

    kainoa is so handsome, haha, he's so cute for wanting to wear his superman outfit. i adore your babies.

  3. Beautiful! Your kidlets are gorgeous....

  4. Yet again, I'm totally inspired by and in love with your sewing skills! I think wrinkled linen preference comes from Grandma Marge, because I remember her saying she likes it and I like it too. :) You are so fabulous! Kalei's eyes are amazing, too, by the way. What a cute family you have!

  5. i want to sew like you. i only know the basics. i need to practice. thank you for sending me the link to the article. why is it that i didn't remember that talk when i remember him saying all that. miss ya. i have pictures taken and something in my head to plot on the madrugada blog. i'm just slow. that's all. i still love it though!!! muchos besos and you are a beutiful mama!

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