The Mini Minnie Dress

Fyon's Mini Minnie Dress

I firmly maintain that Minnie Mouse has no monopoly on red with white polkadots, any more than Miss Piggie has a monopoly on pink. Nonetheless, this is the thing I have heard second-most-often about this dress, in either of its iterations. Sheesh. Fortunately, the most-often-heard thing has been random, awesome compliments. And despite being first on the list to make the Minnie Mouse crack, my ever-sweet husband has also requested specifically that I wear my version several times, so it must be a winner. Sigh.

This is the version created for my four-year-old niece, who requested it last month, with much batting of eyelashes and many applications of  “Auntie, I love you!” Let’s just say that as long as the cute holds out, she should do well in life. You may have to click through to the full size version to see the polkadots on this one. They are small, but I promise you they are there.

Young Image Summer 2011 patterns

The pattern I used as a base is Y1109 from the Young Image Magazine Summer 2011 issue (third down on the left in the image above). You can browse through the whole magazine here, but it won’t let me link to a specific page; there’s a good view of the dress on p. 19. It had the right general lines, in particular the centre-front bodice panel.

I made the size 104, the smallest for this pattern; my niece is 106 cm tall, although her bust and hips were a little narrower than the 104 called for. Still, I’m glad I used the 104 rather than a smaller size (had one been available)—the amount of ease is fine but definitely not excessive.

Naturally I couldn’t just make it up as is. So this is not really a fair review of the pattern or the magazine, although I did use all of the pattern pieces provided. The instructions are, well, distinctly translated, and in so many languages it can be a bit tricky to figure out where the information you want is; it’s mostly segregated by language, but not entirely. Also, the pattern pages are only marked in two languages, neither of them English (my guess is Dutch and German, but I confess I didn’t actually pay attention), so be prepared to do some translating. That being said, they’re not nearly so over-crowded as Burda pages and each pattern has its own colour, so that part was not bad at all.

Dress back

The pattern calls for a rear zipper in the bodice (not extending into the skirt as far as I can tell), but I opted for buttons, instead. You do have to add seam allowances. They may tell you that somewhere, but if so I didn’t find it. I just figured that all the European pattern magazines (maybe European patterns in general?) don’t have seam allowances, and an examination of the size/shape of the pieces will confirm that.  If I’d been less pressed for time I would’ve read up a bit more on how much to add for a centre button placket, but I was in a hurry, so I winged it. It’s not exactly ideal. I should probably have drafted facings or used a self-lining (which I think is what the pattern calls for), but I didn’t. And I’m balls at understitching, so my white cotton lining peeks out a fair bit. Ah, well. I also put the straps on the wrong side, I’m pretty sure they are supposed to angle with the shoulders, not puff up the way they do, but they look cute anyway.

Underskirt for dress for niece.

The skirt in the pattern has a slightly-gathered, shaped upper portion and a ruffled lower portion. In the photo (page nineteen of the magazine, again, but I can’t do a direct link and I don’t have the physical magazine with me to photograph), the dress has quite a deep ruffle on the lower part of the skirt; it looks much shorter on the technical illustration, which I found rather confusing. There’s no pattern piece for this, which is fine as it’s just a rectangle, but I couldn’t find the information on how deep it should be, either, just how wide it should be at the different sizes. My original dress had a simple dirndl skirt, so I did that for my niece’s version, too, but I used the pattern-piece provided, plus a lower ruffle tier, for the underskirt. I was winging it for the length at that point—I did a quick comparison with some dresses from Tyo’s closet that I thought were in the right ballpark length—overshot, and wound up hacking about four inches off the top of the underskirt. Ah, well. It all gathers to the waist, anyway ;). For extra flouff, I gathered some tulle onto the underskirt. I should’ve used more. I also couldn’t use my favourite gathering technique, the zig-zag over a supplementary thread, as my zig-zagger was frozen at this point (she’s in the shop as we speak), so that was a wee bit annoying. Yes, I used the gathering foot, but getting the precise length was not happening so I wound up hand-basting and gathering it that way anyway. *headdesk*.


Instead of little ruffles on the centre front panel, I made an altered, double-length version of the CF piece to create the ruching. Gather it to the side-front pieces, construct bodice as usual.

Buttons closeup

I was a little concerned about the button-placket not extending into the skirt. After all, even on rectangular little children, you want to be able to open it a little below the waist, right? So after some cogitation, I decided to add in an extra-wide continuous lap placket at the centre back to finish off the button placket. Of course, for these to work properly you really have to fold the outer edge of the placket to the inside, which I completely forgot to do. So it’s a bit wonky in that area. Fortunately it’s pretty much hidden in the gathers, anyway. And cute ladybug buttons make up for all manner of flaws.

I have been having some fun being the sewing fairy, I must admit. I have been refusing to sew for my adult relations (well, unless they come to visit me for fittings, which, considering we live 600 km away, is a bit of a deterrent), but this summer I dared to hand down a couple of pieces. My stylish sister-in-law had greatly admired this sundress last year when I wore it, and after thinking about it, I decided to give it to her. I still like it a lot, but it feels like a lounging-by-the-lake (or in the back yard) kind of dress, something she does a lot more of than I (which is not to say she is lazy, quite the opposite, but she is currently at home with small children in a house with no AC, rather than spending her days in an overly-cooled lab like I do). Rather more recently, I made a tunic cloning a RTW one that I absolutely love. I liked the clone, too, but it was a bit too short through the body. So with some trepidation, I handed it over to my going-on-fourteen-year-old-niece. I am absolutely terrified of trying to sew something for anyone in this age-set without their direct input, but figured it had a better chance of working for her than for me and was reasonably stylish reasonably recently, and she steals lots of clothes from my stylish sister-in-law (I should perhaps clarify that my stylish sister-in-law is the mother of the four-year-old who received the Minnie dress, but NOT of the fourteen-year-old), who I feel pretty comfortable about guessing styles for. Anyway, she claims she likes it and as she’s only 5′ 1″, the length issue is rather less on her. So we’ll see. I still need to make the longer version…

Oona, this one's for you

Before I left on vacation, I did bring home one more piece of thrift store fabric: this crazy border-print. There’s only about a metre, but it’s very wide. Whatever it gets made into will obviously be dedicated to Oona of the Carnival Stash.

Whew! I must now return to hanging out with my in-laws, soaking up the sun, and wrangling somewhat obscene numbers of small children. Gotta love vacation…



Filed under Sewing

21 responses to “The Mini Minnie Dress

  1. Love that thrift piece of fabric! That will make something wondeful!

  2. It’s adorable, and so is she!


    i cannot believe it.

    okay. i’m better now. giddy with anticipation, but in control. ahem. the minnie mouse dress (you named it in my head now, sorry) is awesome. i can see the lure of sewing for children, her poses tell you she appreciates the high fashion of it. and giving away goods! yes, i like this tact when sewing for others. you didn’t make it for them; so if it doesn’t fit quite right; dude, it’s a gift. and helluva gift with that sundress. that sundress is go lounge at a spa in arizona awesome.

    i’ve had a lot of wine tonight. can you tell? hope you’re having some too!

    • No wine here but I just might’ve had a bit of Bailey’s in my ice cream after supper ;). And it was GOOD ice cream from the local fancy ice cream spot, too.

      I agree about the sundress. If I spent more (any) time lounging at spas, I would totally have held onto it. Although the Grecian Goddess dress kinda fills that wardrobe niche, too…

  4. That oonaesque fabric (is that a word? It is now) is awesome. It needs to be a sundress, stat.

    I love the way you walk us through the mistakes in your projects (please note: we can’t SEE them) because I sometimes think I’m the only person who goes, “Ehh, nobody is going to notice that. Or that. Or that.” But the red polka dot dress isn’t a Minnie dress — no indeed, the polka dots have to be MUCH larger and white and in a regular pattern to be Minnie. Says the girl who lives 40 minutes from Disneyland.

    • I definitely agree, Minnie’s polkadots are LARGE. Mine are totally, totally a different beast. Unfortunately other people keep making the association. Obviously we are way too far away from Disneyland here. /sigh.

      I do personally prefer blogs that share the warts along with the blossoms 😉 so I try to do the same. Also it’s a bit of a record for me, should I revisit a pattern or idea again, to remind me of what not to do ;).

  5. Very cute dress! I adore the button down the back. 🙂

    Way to go, passing on some of your me-made garments as hand-me-downs! You are braver than I!

  6. It’s adorable- I love your changes- she must be tickled to have it! She needs some yellow shoes to Minnie it up.

  7. LinB

    The sundress is adorable, as is your niece. Don’t worry about pooh-pooh-ers who say, “That dress is so Minnie Mouse.” I had to stop to think for a bit to even remember who/what Minnie Mouse is. Not everyone lives the Disney dream. Continuous placket was a genius solution to the “how is the girl going to get into the red dress” question. And, yes, ladybug buttons make everything wonderful.

  8. What a sweet dress! Your niece looks very happy with it.

  9. Sewista Fashionista

    The red dress is so pretty. Doesn’t remind me of Minnie Mouse at all. Congrats on the great thrift store find. 🙂

  10. That is a darling dress. I love hearing how you work through challenges. You inspire me to not give up on things so easily when I hit a snag. Your sister-in-law is a lucky gal! That is one crazy cool dress.

  11. O, I want one for me! It is too cute for words! I particularly like the ruched bodice (I would never have thought of that) & the back buttons.

  12. Aww, that dress is totally sweet and wonderful. I love the back buttons! And the tulle-y underskirt! 🙂

  13. Sweet! What a perfect dress for a little girl.
    That’s some mad fantastic fabric!

  14. You make some great looking red garments T! This one is SO adorable.

  15. The cutest of dresses. I loved hearing of the custom sewing acquisition techniques. I think some bigger people could learn from your niece!
    I have red dotty fabric cut out for my niece-turning-five. I think I am changing my pattern though, your front ruching looks so pretty.

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