Thursday, 22 August 2013

Birthday Dress!

This week I made Ellie a birthday dress to celebrate her upcoming first birthday. Already one! I can't believe how fast this year has gone by. I've had the Oliver + S Family Reunion pattern for a while now and have been meaning to make one for Ellie and Lois. I finally got motivated with her birthday coming up and got to cutting and sewing. I was tempted to buy some nice, new fabric, but really I have plenty to work with, and especially for such a wee dress, you don't need much fabric. I used some navy stripe shirt fabric my mom gave me a while back and some Liberty fabric for the neck facing and buttons. I've been looking around for a while now at what sorts of fabrics I like for this dress (lots of ideas here on pinterest), and found I like simpler fabrics for the base with a bit of contrast. It was so much fun to make!

And I'm happy to have pushed my sewing boundaries a little and done some new things like make pintucks, buttonholes, and an interesting hem that I've never done before. It's the sort of hem where you make hem facing and then turn it to the wrong side. The instructions are clear and the fit is really nice. I didn't measure Ellie first but probably should have. I made the 12-18 month size and figured since she's just coming up on 12 months, and is a little small for her age, that it would likely be just a bit big, but actually it fits really nicely. So next time I'll be sure to measure. I'm lucky it wasn't too tight. It is quite long, coming about mid-calf when she stands up, but it's perfect around her chest and arms. As usual with sewing I was a intimidated at first. Getting started is often the hardest part for me. But with each step, I just tried to follow the instructions carefully. Ah, and cutting, I've learned to trace and cut very carefully. Careless cutting (cutting too small or just inaccurately) is sort of like adding too much salt to food, once it's done you can't do much of anything to remedy it except just start over. So I tried to take my time with the cutting. I took photos with my phone as I went along (mostly sewing at night after the girls were asleep) and then took a few photos with our little Sony after it was finished.
There were two areas that I had trouble with, one was where you snip the shoulder seams a bit and the other was the hem. The snipping at the shoulder area just didn't make sense to me. I understood what I was supposed to do, but not how to do it, so I skipped it. Well, I tried to do it, made a big tear, which I'm certain was wrong, and then did some stitching surgery and thought I shouldn't try it again simply because I didn't know how to without making another rip in the fabric. I think the snipping instructions were intended just to make the shoulders rest neatly so it wasn't a critical matter. Then for the hem, the facing is a bit shorter than the hem of the dress, which the pattern notes, but mine was somehow even shorter than it should have been. I re-measured against the pattern and have no idea how mine came out even shorter, but because the hem was too short, it wouldn't turn out properly (see photo below).
When turned, it would have made the back fold in one more time, which it wasn't intended to do and wouldn't fit if it did, and the neck facing would have had to turn as well, and that would not have looked right. So I re-did the hem and made it longer by about an inch on both ends, and the second time it fit. I was tempted just to turn up the hem and do a standard hem, but I pushed on and reminded myself that the only way to get better is to take things apart and re-do them until they are right, or at least more right than before. I'm glad I did it. Here it is below, re-done, and the back then looked as it should.
With sewing, I often think, "there's no way this is right! how can this be? I must really have to do it like such and such." But whenever I'm sure I'm right, I'm wrong. I've learned that even if the instructions are turning your brain inside out and upside down, and something seems like it just doesn't make sense, just keep following the pattern, especially when you know it's a very popular, well-liked pattern such as this one (patterns do have mistakes, but I'm more likely the one making the mistakes, not the patterns).
Of course this dress isn't perfect, and I'm looking forward to making another one to get better at it. For example, I backed up my stitching on the pintucks, but probably should have tied the thread in a knot (as the pattern suggested) to make it look neater. 
I made fabric covered buttons and love the nice pop of pattern to the back! And it was super fun to make buttonholes. Now I just want to put a buttonhole in everything!
The neck facing in the back doesn't match up well. I'm not sure how I misjudged that one and didn't realize it until I was almost finished. But I think I will tie a little navy blue ribbon to the back so that you can't tell.
And most importantly, Ellie likes her dress and it fits! And a few more clearer photos with our other camera. Yay! Dress done. 


Julia said...

It is darling on Ellie! I cannot believe she is already celebrating her first birthday. It seems just like yesterday that you announced her arrival on your blog. She is so cute and looks so much like her big sister, Lois. Happy Birthday, Ellie!

marilu said...

How beautiful and what a professional look! You are very talented, I think I say that every time I read your blog! Happy birthday Ellie!