First up, the purple, bejewelled dress with ruffles - holy crap I really did put all of that into one dress!
This dress came about via a combination of a shop bought dress that she adores, and a trip to Maria's Beads and Trims. Actually, it was meant to be a trip to Buttonmania, but the shop was closed for 10 minutes and we found ourselves in the bead shop while waiting....
That's dangerous with a small girl who likes her bling. We jointly decided that another knit dress with built in jewelled necklace was needed (desperately!) and laid out some jewels which Mary then set into clasps for us. Then the idea got shelved for a bit as winter sewing took over.
The "diamonds" are pink, clear, cognac and blue and to space them out a bit I sewed a clear bead (leftover from the Deer) between each one. I also made a largish French knot at each space which you can't see well in the photo, and while it looks nice, I'm not sure if it adds or detracts from the stability of the stitched on jewels. The underside of the neckline is stabilised with a roughly 2 inch wide facing of iron on interfacing.
She tells me that she stores all her powers in that central pink jewel and it spurts out pink lightning. I can't recall if that happens when she's mad or happy. I think it's a confused mash up of Roald Dahl's The Magic Finger and some Chima LEGO and unicorn TV shows. Whatever, it definitely holds the power to make her LOVE her dress!
In recreating the original dress I cut a little keyhole out of the centre back neck and then bound the edge with knit binding. My first attempt was a bit loose and so I unpicked it (serged seam of course - face palm) and stretched the binding strip as I attached it again. Worked a charm second time.
The rest of the neckline is finished the same way. A strip of knit serged onto the neckline, pressed to the inside, then double needle stitched down. I used a hair elastic to create the button loop at the end. Turns out she doesn't need to unbutton it to get it on or off anyway, but it's a pretty faithful recreation of the original dress.
I never really think I know what I'm doing, or that what I am doing hasn't been beautifully photographed and turned into a smashing tutorial elsewhere. But... I got a couple of lovely comments on Instagram (here I am) wanting a "lesson" in doing that neckline. I do sometimes feel quite proud of my knit sewing, but perhaps I'm just being big headed.... Let me know if my tips and tricks are worth sharing here on the blog.
The last feature of the original dress was the dropped waist and the ruffles. This dress is based on the Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt. From my jotted notes it looks like it was size 4 with the side seams shortened to 8", and an arbitrary 1&1/2" added to the sleeve length. The ruffles were added to the top, middle and bottom of a trapezoid shaped skirt section. I cut my ruffle lengths one and a half times the width at each of the attachment lines.
The fabric is a gorgeously soft viscose jersey from the remnant table of, I think, GJ's fabrics. It's not too heavy for the weight of the ruffles although the waistline is perhaps a bit more dropped than I'd originally intended. :)
Finally the skirt ruffles were hemmed with a rolled hem on the overlocker. Fast and pretty!
Once I knew it worked I made another as the "tutorial" (and let's admit to using that word pretty loosely in this instance) for the Oliver + S blog. Initially I'd thought I'd work out the ruffle and trapezoid dimensions for every size but the maths just never seemed to add up, so I've kept it deliberately vague. Still, it's hard to go wrong unless you're overly concerned about an exact final length or accurate ruffle depth.
While she loves the purple one, I think this one is just about my favourite thing so far this year...
This time I left the sleeve length as per the pattern, but then added a cuff so they're probably about 1" longer than the straight size 4 length. The neckband is as per the pattern and the ruffles the same as the first version.
The mint fabric is a very synthetic, cheap knit from one of the Sydney Rd stores, and obviously doesn't have as much vertical stretch as the waist is a bit higher on this one. I was keen to use different fabrics for each ruffle to make it easier to photograph the making of the skirt and stuck with what I had in the stash. I almost went out and bought overlocker thread that matched the ribbing better but then thought that was daft. The electric blue is near enough.
It's that rolled hem that I love so much. This dress was initially rejected almost outright but then I sat A down and we watched some Flamenco dance on YouTube. I tried to seek out dancers with contrasting hems on their dresses. We dug the castanets out of the music box, put the Buena Vista Social Club on the stereo (I know, not Flamenco, but she was fooled) and the dress was declared to be great - but not as good as the purple one because of the lack of jewels.
I'm used to knit sewing being quick and my expectation of a one evening's sew for these was blown out by those ruffles. Gathering and attaching ruffles is time consuming. Made much worse if you forget to use a contrasting thread for the gathering stitches and then almost make your eyes bleed trying to pick them out.
The sun was out for this photo shoot so we ended up wandering down the street for a coffee, and stopped for a quick picture next to the super cute, purple owls.
Hopefully both of these dresses will get plenty of wear in spring. There's no doubt the purple one will be worn until it's indecently short or fallen apart.
Or, you could watch the video we watched together. My next girl's dress might need to be red and have more ruffles everywhere!