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.
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…)
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.
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.
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.)
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.