I’ve done coordinating dresses for my daughters before, but never outright matching. Browsing vintage patterns online I came across McCall’s 4346 (copyright 1957, the same year my mother was born), and knew that I had to do it for both of my girls. It took a little while to find usable copies in sizes 6 and 12 – these were supposed to be Easter dresses (don’t judge me) – but I finally pulled it off.
I was considering making both of their dresses in solid blue with a red bow just like the blondie on the pattern envelope there. But once I laid eyes on this Michael Miller print, I couldn’t stop picturing my girlies in it. I mean, come on! It’s birds hanging dishes on a clothesline!
Other than my buttonholer’s continued refusal to cooperate, these dresses came together amazingly fast. I love how the simple lines work with an obnoxious novelty print (I’m already thinking about Christmas dresses). And here are my girlies all decked out with their new crinoline petticoats and big smiles!
Yesterday for Mother’s Day, my sweetie pie husband gave me the day off. He cooked all of our meals and cleaned up too, and I was free to get some good sewing time in. I made a dress for the baby in a cute little retro print synthetic knit I found thrifting for a quarter.
For the second time now, I sewed an entire garment “in the flat.” Does anyone else do this? What the heck do I mean? Well, the instructions for the pattern I used, Butterick 5976, would have you sew the side, back and shoulder seams, then attach the collar and facing, insert the zipper next, and then ease in the sleeves and hem them (those tiny little sleeves!) before hemming the dress bottom.
Here is what I did:
- Serged the shoulder seams together and pressed them backward
- Eased in the sleeve cap and serged into place
- Serged sleeve hem and hemmed/stitched the opening of the sleeve while flat
- Sewed the collar as usual. Serged bottom of facing and attached facing and collar to dress
- Understitched facing and instead of tacking stitched facing to shoulder it in the ditch through the top of the shoulder seam
- Serged both sides of back seam separately then sewed to zipper bottom position. Inserted zipper, and hand slip-stitched facing edge at top of zipper
- Serged side seams and sleeve seams all at once. Pressed seams toward back. Alternately (to allow for small adjustments later) you could serge front and back individually and sew
- Serged hem and hemmed it
I don’t know if there is any reason not to sew this way, but I have been finding many aspects of construction easier when garments are sewn in the flat- especially kids stuff. Um, and zippers! If you are machine sewing a zipper, it is way, way easier to sew it flat without all of that extra fabric in the way. And why fuss to fold and hem a tiny sleeve when you can just sew it flat? Yes, this does make a seam that ends at the armscye, but isn’t that seam hidden by the child’s arm anyway?
I’d really be interested to know if anyone else sews this way or has tried it, or if anyone knows of reasons why it might be a bad idea.
Another neat part about this project, for me, was that it was constructed mostly on my serger, which I have used a lot for finishing, but not construction. I imagine this method of sewing flat made the serger construction easier, as there were curves to sew but not circles.
Now that I’ve rambled on, here are some pics of my little munchkin in her new dress.
Courtesy of the Vintage Pattern Wiki
She is wearing my shoes
It is great how she is so excited to wear a dress I have made her. Sometimes she comes to me with a shirt or scarf and says, “Mommy, I made this for you!” It won’t be long before we’ll have a little sweatshop going!
Also posted at my blog, Farmhouse Garden.
I didn’t wait until the very last minute, I promise. I actually finished these a few weeks ago but am a very lax blogger! My girls and I of course needed new holiday dresses – they have grown, and I have acquired a crinoline petticoat. I had gobs and gobs of Sheri Berry 12 Joys of Christmas fabric that I acquired on the cheap after last Christmas. Retro holiday themed prints = my ONE weakness.
First up was mine:
I really used the pattern more as a suggestion than as a hard and fast rule. (That is a trend with me, as you’ll soon learn.) For one, the kimono sleeves don’t work with my GIANTNOVELTYPRINT, and for two, the full pleated skirt uses a ton of fabric and is really best suited to home dec width material. I drafted in set-in sleeves, switched the skirt for a simple dirndl-style, and voila.
I am very pleased with it, as you can see.
Next up were my daughters’ dresses.
This time I got the brilliant idea that I should just re-invent the wheel and make them as a blouse/skirt combo instead of a one-piece dress. This way I can just switch out the skirts for different seasons (I may or may not already have some Kaufman Appleville for spring) and save myself a bit of trouble. I’m not sure if this really saved me any effort, since I had to re-draft a lot of the pieces! The blouses are Kaufman Pimatex, and the skirt waistbands are black cotton velveteen since a girl’s holiday dress without velveteen is a travesty. I also made my younger daughter’s blouse with an attached petticoat since she doesn’t have a poofy slip (older daughter has a nice vintage one which I fortunately found at the Goodwill and saved myself some trouble). Rambling aside, here are my cuties:
Now we are all ready for the holidays!