More Updates... April and May

More updates, as promised. Let’s talk little girl dresses. I have a niece and a great niece who both turned two this May. They are only 20 days apart in age. A lot of times I will use the same pattern for both of them for Christmas and birthdays, only with modifications of fabric, or perhaps sleeve length or embellishments. This year, however, I went completely different.

For my great niece, Everyn, I chose to use one of my own patterns in a size 2T. I used the Estherlyn’s Jumper pattern. For the apron flap, I used a pair of my husband’s old jeans that he hasn’t worn in years because of rips in them. I left the raw edge unfinished so that it will fray in the wash. Then I found a lovely fat quarter in my stash that was given to me by my friend, Amanda, several years ago and another small piece leftover from another project. I appliquéd a cute little bird on the front with a button for the eye. It was sort of an exercise in challenging myself to use what I had on hand. I love how it turned out.

For my little niece, Quinn, however, I went completely the opposite direction. Some of you may know that I have my roots in what is known as Heirloom sewing. Heirloom sewing incorporates high end fabrics and laces, a lot of hand embroidery and smocking and very old fashioned techniques. The dresses are very soft, classic, lacey and elegant. I have always admired them from afar. I’ve learned and used the techniques in other dresses, but I had never REALLY made what I would call an Heirloom dress with fine fabric and lots of lace. So… that’s what I set out to do. It was a challenge to myself to see if I could really do it. I bought some lovely soft organic cotton batiste. It was so soft and sheer and floaty that it was like sewing a cloud, LOL. However it pressed and sewed up beautifully. I used my own Clarissa pattern and modified it slightly to take the pleats out of the front. I hand embroidered a center panel with purple flowers and then set that in with insertion lace and entredeux. Instead of making a lining, the sleeves and skirt are set in with entredeux and the edges inside are rolled and whipped on my machine with a zigzag stitch. Click here to see that technique if you are interested in how that is done. The neck opening is also trimmed with entredeux and lace.

I also embroidered an inset panel for the sleeves using the same technique and trimming the bottom of the sleeve with entredeux and edging lace.

I also created what is known as a “fancy band” for the bottom of the skirt. This is created by edge joining two or more strips of lace with a zigzag stitch. I used lots of wash away stabilizer to keep them from getting eaten by my machine.

And finally here is the finished dress. I closed the back with antique mother of pearl buttons that came from this child’s great grandmother’s stash of buttons which I inherited a few years ago. It was so very sheer, that I also made a simple slip to go under it as well. The whole process was a bit of a challenge, but it was also a fun one, mostly… lol. This little dress was going to a little girl who was headed into a hot Texas summer, so I hope it was nice and light and cool for her to wear.

I think that’s where I’ll wrap up for now. My creative juices took a bit of a radical turn in June, so that seems a good place to pick up next time.