Hello! Hope things are good with you?
I seem to be on a bit of a blogging roll at the moment, possibly because my stress levels are through the roof so I’m sewing like a mad woman! This one is actually slightly delayed as I’ve been trying to get nice, sunny outside photos. Yeah, gave up on that one: I implore you to use your imagination and pretend there are blue skies and sun dappled skin on these shots, rather than grey clouds and goose bumps!
Anyway, I may have mentioned in passing that a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the Simplicity Blog Meet in Manchester. Whilst there, I met the lovely Lucy of Sew Essential, an online fabric and haberdashery site you have probably come across. Lucy contacted me afterwards and offered to send me some fabric and a pattern of my choice in return for a blog post.
Ridiculously excited, I skipped off to examine the fabric selection.
It’s unusual for me to start from fabric, but Lucy had asked that I select one of their new children’s fabrics to make something for one of my girls as this is a new range for them. I scrolled through the extensive selection a number of times, but with a bunny-mad three year old in the house, this print was an absolute no brainer! Mentally adding several non-kiddy print fabrics to my personal wish list, I moved on to patterns.
This took some time! Sew Essential stock all the big name pattern companies, together with a respectable selection of independents, so even filtering on girls’ patterns, there were pages to go through. However, I knew I wanted a pattern that covered both my girls’ sizes as if I make for one and not the other, there’s hell to pay! And I thought the fabric lent itself either to a loose top or dress, given I was sewing with our upcoming Florida trip in mind.
I settled on Simplicity 8102, a loose fitting dress with a pattern for a tote bag too. Lucy shipped me the supplies and off I went!
The fabric itself was lovely, it has a really soft, smooth hand for a cotton poplin and it’s 150 wide, always a bonus!
I opted to make option A: the ruffles on option B really didn’t appeal and I didn’t have a matching contrast fabric to go with C. The pattern itself is really simple; a front, a back and corresponding facing pieces. There are no fastenings of any kind; those pretty bows on the shoulders are the fastenings as well, so you definitely don’t want to pick anything with too much body to make this up in.
Making the dress up was an absolute doddle. Even finishing all the seams on the overlocker, I got this done in just over an hour. The instructions are clear and it really is incredibly straight forward. So I decided to steam on and cut and sew a dress for the big girl in the same evening; power sewing! Knowing which pattern Lucy was sending, I’d been to Leeds market and picked up this unicorn print poly cotton for Beth; slightly cheaper than the bunnies, you can definitely feel the quality difference (never tell her I said that, they are obviously both completely identical!!)
The unicorn print was also not as wide as the bunnies, so I couldn’t fit the facings onto the same piece of fabric. I should mention that I’d only bought 2 metres where the pattern envelope insists on 2.5 for her size but I thought I knew best. I also automatically added a couple of inches of length to the pattern pieces as she’s very tall; we’ll come back to that!
However, I did have some fat quarters in rainbow colours and there are rainbows in with the unicorns, so I simply cut one facing in one coordinating colour, one in another and then cut a pocket from view C to match and tie it all together. I quite liked the pocket, so I added one on to Katie’s dress too.
I actually really like the effect these contrast facings give, given that they show at the shoulder ties; they break up the all over print a little which I personally prefer.
So, one evening’s sewing, two summer holiday dresses; result! The only thing I left til morning was hemming as I thought I’d let the girls decide how long they wanted their dresses.
I have skinny, tall children. Big pattern companies do not, by and large, have blocks for skinny, tall children. However, even saying that, I think the neckline fit on these dresses is very loose, which is not shown on the envelope and were I to make them again, I would go down a size for both girls.
Katie’s chest is 22″, waist 23″, hips 23″; she’s nearly 4 and she’s very tall for her age. The pattern envelope indicates that the age 4 size would have a chest of 23″, waist 21″, hips 24″ where the age 3 would be chest 22″, waist 20.5″, and the hip measurement isn’t given. I automatically cut the larger size to give her growing room. I did not need to do that. You can see on this photo that there is a lot of looseness around the neckline, an awful lot more than the 1″ difference on the pattern envelope size.
Beth has a 24″ chest and is 47″ tall (119cm in proper money!) ; I cut a size 6 which on the pattern envelope has a chest measurement of 25″ and a height of 47″. Hers doesn’t look nearly as loose but only because she flat out refused to wear it until I’d taken the side seams in considerably around the top, which I did by the very simple expedient of sewing an almost crescent shaped curve in over the side seams. I actually quite like this as it keeps the lovely fullness of the skirt, plus it means she’ll wear it!
Also both girls decided they wanted their dresses knee length so I lopped loads off the bottom!!
Anyway, all that aside, I genuinely really like the end result and you can see on these photos that the girls do too. I think they’re going to be really useful, cool holiday dresses, particularly on swimming days for wearing to and from the pool. And look, you can jump in them too!
Thank you so much to Lucy at Sew Essential for the gift of fabric and pattern, you can see you have some happy recipients over here!
Note that the fabric for Katie’s dress and the pattern were provided free of charge: all opinions are my own.