Children, magazines

My husband’s aunt (who is only a few years older than him) just invited us down for her daughter’s birthday (her daughter, my husband’s cousin, is Syo’s age.) Since they live quite a bit closer than the rest of the family, and we are always saying we’ll come down and then failing to, I was excited. I know she sews a little bit (sock monkeys have been mentioned), so I asked if a home-made gift would be welcome.

On being assured that it was, and getting a rough (very rough) estimate of the daughter’s size, I pulled out my two summer Young Image magazines and began leafing through.

After a fair bit of angsting, I decided on this pattern, from the original (2011) summer issue. Which is not only really cute, but has ties (adjustable) and a drawstring through the top (adjustable) and a raised “waist” so her actual body dimensions won’t matter so much.

Young Image Sundress

Fabric selection was actually easy-peasy. I found this seersucker in the clearance at Fabricland ages and ages ago, and picked up 3m (I think it was $1.50/m) with the express intention of making dresses for little girls. Unfortunately it didn’t seem quite right for *my* little girls, and I hadn’t gotten around to making something for my little nieces with it. But it seemed perfect for this gift project. (Yes, for those of you paying attention, this is the same fabric as I suggested for my Fantasy Pyjamas. Don’t worry, there’s plenty left…)

Sparkle seersucker

Anyway, the other night I managed to trace of the pattern, and yesterday, as I muzzily clawed my way back towards “normal” functioning, I finished cutting out the fabric and started assembling. I didn’t get ridiculously far, but I did manage to construct front and back skirt panels, some shoulder-ties, and some ruffle trim for the front overlay.

Skirt front

That’s an overlay on the front skirt, by the way; the pattern pieces for the skirt itself are identical front and back. I didn’t realize that until I actually started tracing out the pattern. It makes the construction much simpler.

Next confession: after figuring out how many times the skirt-pattern-piece had to be cut out (five pairs, for 10 panels, as it turned out) I haven’t even glanced at the instructions.

The Dread Ruffler

I did, however, do battle once again with my rolled-hem foot to finish the edge of the overlay and the edges of the ruffling strip. It was almost disappointingly well-behaved after the bias silky polyester. Not having much in the way of seams to go over certainly helped…

Feeling cocky at my triumph, I decided to tackle using the ruffler foot to gather my finished strip. And not just any ruffler foot, no, the ruffler for the Domestic Special*, far and away the most terrifying of my sewing machines. Actually, the machine works perfectly well, I just keep trying to use the more exotic attachments it came with, with decidedly mixed results. Which really isn’t the machine’s fault. The main thing with the ruffler is to remember to lower the presser foot before you start stitching. You can’t actually tell the difference, visually, because the foot is so bulky and the fabric feeds through it rather than under it, so it’s easy to forget, and disaster will ensue.

I normally reserve ruffler feet for things where I need vast quantities of ruffling of indeterminate gather ratio. This length was decidedly intermediate, although the consistent, fixed gather-ratio is nice for a trim. I wouldn’t say that in this case it was any great time-saver, since I had to make several samples to figure out what my gather-ratio was and which setting was increasing vs. decreasing it. But, it was fun anyway, and the needle did not shimmy out of position, nor did it strike the edge of the throat plate and shatter, which is what typically happens when I use the ruffler on my Janome. Of course, sewing the ruffled strip down was a whole ‘nother continent of annoying, but that’s certainly not the ruffler’s fault (after all, it’s perfectly possible to ruffle and stitch-down in one pass, if I had the guts to attempt it.)

Bias-cut bodice and chalk pencil

For the bodice, I tried cutting out on the diagonal to make chevroned stripes (the lining and underlining are on the straight grain). We’ll see how that turns out. The stripe-matching on the skirt sections is pretty much a dog’s breakfast, but I was much more meticulous about the bodice. I hope.

Also, Fabricland’s current 50% off sale on notions persuaded me to pick up this nifty, if rather expensive, Dritz chalk-pencil gadget. I’m always looking for something that will make marks efficiently and accurately. So far it seems pretty decent—not as accurate as the wash-away marker, but a little easier to lay down in large segments (like when tracing a pattern piece). A lot will depend on my ability to keep from losing it, or shattering the chalk refills.

All right. Now, much as I’d like to go down and sort out the rest of this little dress, my house needs to be rescued from three days of illness-related neglect. Ouch!

*Mostly because the Domestic and Janome are the two machines set up right now and and I hate using the ruffler on my Janome—something about the lighter weight of the modern machine just lends itself to vibrating the needle loose or jamming and breaking a needle.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Children, magazines

  1. A friend of mine swears by those chalk pen things. I sort of want one myself, but I’m mostly happy with the hunks of chalk, and I really don’t need to acquire more sewing do-dads. :D

    That dress is going to be adorable. I hope the b-day girl likes it!

    • I lost/broke my last hunk of chalk within days of buying it, and the regular chalk pencil always breaks, so we’ll see how these hold out… it comes with its own little sharpener, too. ;)

  2. I too, have never had the nerve to try and ruffle and attach in one go. That is just too scary to even contemplate. Why it that so? That little bit of metallic looks really cute and will be perfect for a little girl. Hope she loves it.

    • I do wonder if anyone but ancient and highly-accomplished seamstresses would have attempted it… on the other hand sewing on the ruffle after was not exactly easy, either, so maybe it wouldn’t be that much worse…

  3. Its going to be a beautiful dress! The ruffler is amazing.
    She will prob wear it all summer.

  4. crazy lady, sewing and recovering at the same time!! the dress looks adorable (and i agree that fabric didn’t look right for Tyo or Syo….too much of their mom’s super cool goth/punk leanings!)

    • well, sewing seemed more fun and relaxing than the alternative of cleaning… I did all the blog reading and vegging I could stand while I was actively sick.

  5. This is going to be an adorable dress!

    I’m sewing a gingham maxi dress with questionable pattern matching. I _must_ unpick the front bodice and re-align though, cause that’s where everyone’s gonna stare anyway.

    I feel you on the house-cleaning though. After working my long week (50 hours in 4 days) and a pain flare-up I got next to nothing done.

    • Yeah, I started stitching up the bodice today and, well, it’ll work but it certainly took some fiddling. Expert pattern-matcher I am not! (and this only stripes!)

  6. Just thinking about trying to ruffle AND stitch at the same time strikes fear into my heart!

    What a lucky little girl! The pattern is so cute!

  7. The dress is going to be gorgeous! Hopefully, the adjustments will make it easy to fit.

    I feel your pain on the house. After making a Greek general costume for Middlest and something vaguely Renaissance-y for Oldest, I’m out of energy. The mountain of dirty laundry and messy sewing room will have to wait.

    • The annoying thing is that I had actually worked pretty hard last week on getting caught up on the house—laundry was done, dishes were manageable. And then, two days of dysfunction—wham, major mess again. Argh. Housework would be much less frustrating if it didn’t seem so futile…

  8. Oh the dreaded lurg and you still managed to read blogs and do some sewing. Cripes! Very cute dress and I consider myself warned off ‘wanting’ a ruffler foot. Oh and a hemmer. I am still wondering about a binder though ….. really want one of those …..

    Cute dress and I wonder if you’ll do the searsucker PJs too? Hmmm.

    Get better soon …. I’m wondering when the elves will arrive to do the floors.

  9. Pingback: Twee Whee Wheedle Wheet | Tanit-Isis Sews

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