Hi there! I need to apologise for the lateness of this post: really, it should have been written and blogged a couple of weeks ago. However, I’ve been feeling like hell with one cold after another, and I foolishly forgot to take photos on Christmas Day so have been waiting for photos from Dad. Such is life!
Anyway, today’s post is all about the Christmas dresses I made for me and the girls last year. Clearly I was in festive mode as I’d already made all three of us jersey dresses in festive print, but hey, no excuses needed for that around here!
So for myself, I bought some fabric at Sew Up North which was destined for a very Christmas frock. It could hardly be anything else, given it’s covered in polar bears wearing santa hats and scarves! It was bought to go with the red mittens necklace I got from Tatty Devine (I’m developing an obsession!) and was a reasonably heavy weight quilting cotton.
As for last year, I used the Christine Haynes Emery dress pattern, which includes my mods to raise the waist, take some width out of the neckline, increase the waist darts, trim a little out of the back shoulder and convert the gathered skirt to a pleated one.
I chose to make the short sleeved version as it’s always WAY too hot in our house by tea time on Christmas day, but I did fully line it, which makes it feel much more luxurious and also seems to stop it creasing quite so much!
Honestly, I’m still not thrilled with the fit; the bodice still feels baggy when being worn and the neckline also just feels a bit big. But it was absolutely fine for the day, and pockets are always a bonus!
So then there were the girls’ dresses. Oh boy! Did I struggle with what should have been an utterly straightforward couple of makes!
It all started to go wrong when I decided to do the bodices in sequins. Spoiler alert: this was not a good idea!
Both dresses are made using the First Day Dress which I’ve made before with lots of success. I did make some changes though, the main one being that I really don’t like the pattern’s method of introducing a back neck slit so your child can actually get into the dress.
You’re supposed to cut the back on the fold, partly sew the dress and then cut down the back and make a buttonhole at the top. I think this looks rather odd and honestly, the lady who designed it must have children with smaller headsthan mine! But it’s easy enough to fix that by introducing a centre back seam allowance and cutting two separate pieces, something I also did with the back skirt pieces.
The skirts were always intended to be made from the Olaf fabric I brought back from Florida with me this summer. I then bought two shades of blue sequinned fabric at Sew Up North to make bodices with, thinking this would be more festive than sticking to the plain cotton print.
I steamed ahead with cutting the dresses out; for both girls I chose the skirt length particular to their heights but the width for a couple of years down, as both of them are tall and skinny for their ages. This was a fairly easy thing to grade, given I was basically using just three pattern pieces. I cut the bodices out of sequins, and then spent an hour or so cleaning up the stray sequins from the kitchen floor!
I also cut the scraps of Olaf fabric into continuous bias binding, ending up with more than enough to do the neck, armholes and skirt hems in matching bias. I find it quite satisfying to do this, making sure none of the pretty fabric gets wasted.
As I headed downstairs to sew up the bodice pieces, I started thinking about the feel of the sequins against bare little under arms. And the doubt started to set in. But at this point, I’d shown the girls the sparkles and they were all sold so I soldiered on.
I broke two needles on my sewing machine just stitching the shoulder seams together! And then had a total nightmare trying to attach skirt to bodice. The final straw was when I moved to overlocking the bodice seams and broke a futher two overlocker needles on the sparkles, despite having had absolutely no difficulties with the black sequins used for Mum’s sweater.
At this point, I threw the sequins in the bin and recut the bodices from the Olaf cotton!
After that, things went relatively smoothly. I can’t pretend the finish is as amazing as I would have liked but I’d had it with these dresses at this point and just wanted them done!
Thankfully the girls liked them, they fit and Christmas day was once again the place for Frozen dresses.
A very blue Christmas was had by all!
Seems they were also appropriate for present hunting…..
Might buy the girls dresses next year though…..