There are so many cute holiday dresses out there for little girls, so in the past I've just bought her something lovely. But this year I really wanted to make something unique for my special Little Bug.
I used my TNT pattern for her... MADE's First Day Dress. I know I'm a bit stuck in a rut (Leopard Dress, Purple Party Dress), but I just love the classic, simple pattern and the circle skirt.
I was quite stuck on what fabric to use. I knew I wanted velvet for the bodice, and something really special for the skirt. Browsing my favorite online stores wasn't inspiring me, and the prices were not attractive, especially since I only really needed a yard for the skirt, and 1/2 a yard for the bodice. Everything at my local Joanne's just seemed so plasticy, and their velvet either felt cheap or was very expensive.
Then I had the idea to see what I could find at the local thrift store. This turned out to be the golden idea! Why do manufacturers have access to such a range of fabrics that don't seem to be available to us home sewists? I found another girls dress with a beautiful, thick, stretchy velvet that was perfect for the bodice, and a women's shirt with a very unique "burnout" pattern. It is probably some sort of poly mix but it feels very cottony to the touch, and the pattern is so unique... holiday without being cliche. I also used some rayon bemberg from my stash for lining the skirt, and tulle from Joannes for the built in "petticoat."
When I sewed it up and called Little Bug over for a first fitting, she burst into tears. TEARS, I tell you. All because the skirt did not touch the ground. Sigh. Arguments about how nice a shorter dress would be for dancing fell on deaf ears. So, guess what... the tulle petticoat ended up being a bit longer than I had anticipated. Even so, we had a bit of an argument about it... it is apparently not long enough yet! But I calmly explained that it would not be a good thing for all of that nice white tulle to be dragging on the floor, and I may have won that argument for the time being. Just maybe.
For a little girl that attends Waldorf school and watches no TV (she hasn't seen a single Disney princess movie yet)... that princess thing is in the blood of some little girls, and mine has it very strongly!
Anyhow, here are some construction details, for anyone who is interested. Sorry there are no pics of the original thrifted garments, forgot about that detail. But the hardest part was definitely piecing together the semi-circle skirt out of the shirt. I decided seaming was just part of the design, and just sewed the seam allowances down in sort of a lazy flat-fell. This was similar to how the original shirt was constructed, except their seams are surged. I didn't apply any additional finish since the fabric doesn't seam to fray very much.
Cutting the velvet bodice was easy. The original garment was princess-seamed, so I centered the seams as best I could. The bust seams don't fall right on the bust, but I think that isn't so bad of a thing on a little girl dress. For the neckline, I just turned over the edge and stitched with a double needle. No closure was needed since the fabric is stretchy. The sleeves were improvised... I used the already hemmed bottom of the dress, then just added a bit of a gather at the top.
The rayon bemberg lining is sewn separately, but attached to the bodice like an underlining. At first I attached the lining to enclose the waist seam, and realized it looked terrible because then the waist seam showed through the red burnout fabric-- doh! So I unpicked and attached the two skirt pieces to the bodice as if they were a single layer. The waist seam shows on the inside, but oh well! I considered enclosing all of the inside seams in seam tape but then I came to my senses and just left well enough alone.
The tulle is gathered and attached to the rayon bemberg lining. There are two yards of it, folded in quarters, so it is rather poofy. Sort of a good thing, since it was not my intention to make a floor length gown, and it needs the extra poof to help maintain the profile of the skirt.
I still prefer my original design idea, where the tulle would stick out a couple inches... but alas, I'm not the one in control here anymore! If she is happy, we are all happy. And I think she is... she didn't want to take the dress off, I could only convince her to take it off before bed by talking about how wrinkled it would get, so she put it next to her in the bed so it would be there when she woke up.
Velvet (thrifted)= $2
Red Burnout fabric (thifted)=$3
Bemberg (stash, so sort of free, but I know how much I paid for it)= $6
Total Cost= $13