Twee Whee Wheedle Wheet


This is a sweet little dress.

A very, very sweet little dress. Too saccharine to have any business anywhere near either of my children, frankly (although Syo will probably bat her eyelashes at you to confuse the issue.)

Once again, this is Young Image Magazine pattern Y1111, from their inaugural issue. My first installation of wittering on the dress is here.

Looking at the photos and the line drawing, one has the impression of a rather complicated dress, but there are actually only four pattern pieces: front bodice, back bodice, skirt panel (gore, if you prefer), and front overlay. And a few instructions for making the ruffle and ties for the shoulders and the drawstring, not that I actually paid attention to them. I will confess, once I had figured out basic things like how many of the skirt pieces needed to be cut out (five pairs, by the way) and where to put the zipper, I didn’t look back at the instructions. I did improvise a fifth piece, for the skirt lining, but in hindsight I could’ve just used the front overlay piece and fudged a normal hem curve. I realized this right after I finished laboriously tracing the skirt panel five times to get a five-gore width. (Then I realized I only needed a two-and-a-half-gore-width if I cut it on the fold. *headdesk*)

As with Burda, you do need to add seam allowances to the patterns. I know some brave seamstresses who just eyeball these, or use little gizmos like the seam-measurers; I am not so brave, and add them on the tissue.

Bodice chevrons (back view)

Being the brilliant thing that I am, I decided I was going to try and do chevron stripes on the bodice. Not being completely idiotic, I decided I would underline the bias bodice pieces with some ย leftover cotton (lawn? batiste?) cut on grain. This was a good idea since by the time I had the chevroned seams (mostly) matched and stitched the bias pieces, they weren’t exactly the same size and shape they started out as. Seersucker’s kinda shifty at the best of times, and my relationship with precision is, well, hit and miss.

I realized after stitching up the skirt panels, that I’d had my needle set in the left-most position, so each of those many seam allowances (it’s essentially a 10-gore skirt) was just a smidge wider than it should’ve been. Oops. So I did have to shave a smidgeon off the bodice. I cut the size 128, as I was told my husband’s little cousin is a “skinny 8” and that was the size which corresponded with Syo’s bust measurement. Of course, Syo is on the shrimpy side for her age, too, but mostly that’s in height—she’s fairly sturdy and has my broad shoulders. Here’s hoping it fits. If not—I’m sure there’s a niece somewhere it’ll fit. I also added about 4 cm to the length, just at the hem of the skirt.

Can you spot the zipper? (PS the bodice seam is actually matched. I gave up on the chevrons, however. Also the difference in angle/grain between the skirt overlay and the gores at the side seem preclude stripe-matching on the skirt)

The pattern calls for a side-zip, so I pulled out one of my vintage invisible zippers, since I am officially “off” regular zippers after attempting one in the blue tunic. This was my first time installing a metal invisible zipper, and it was interesting. I remembered to stabilize the fabric with a little strip of fusible interfacing before stitching the zipper in, and I’m very glad I did because I think it would’ve driven me nuts. As it is, there’s a bit of poof around it, but not too bad. Anyway. I use Sherry’s method and install it with a regular zipper foot. In some ways this was easier with a metal zip—it’s easier to see the teeth, and they feel a bit sturdier so I was less paranoid about wrecking it. On the other hand, I was terrified I was going to needle down on one of the teeth and have sharp flying metal flying at my eye. It took me a couple of passes to ย get the feel for how far back to rotate the teeth, and I did nearly sew my fingers a couple of times, but in the end it worked really well, and I even managed to figure out the trick of sewing the lining on by machine this time.

There’s the zipper! ๐Ÿ™‚

The combination of a drawstring and a side zip is, um, not intuitive. Basically, I ended up with the drawstring in two parts, both stitched to the zipper tape (if I’d been a little more together they would’ve been attached before I put in the zipper, but anyway)—a short one which goes from the side to the CF opening, and a long one which goes from the side, around the back, to the other CF. Hopefully this’ll work out—it’s mostly decorative anyway.

Front notch with drawstring.

The pattern (OK, the photos from the magazine, again, didn’t look at the instructions) has you leave a gap in the stitching at the CF notch for the drawstrings to emerge. ย This is easy, but there’s no real good way to finish the edges, and I’m kind of convinced that after a few wearings there’s going to be threads poking out like crazy, barring some hand-stitching. I considered putting a tiny little buttonhole in the front on either side of the notch, but when the chips came down I took the easy route. An eyelet would be cool, too, if you made a punk-y version of the dress. Which would be really fun, actually. Wouldn’t it be awesome made out of old metal-band T-shirts, with exposed construction and some scraps of black lace and studs?


I did the topstitching around the drawstring casing last. It was a little nerve-wracking making sure that I didn’t stitch down the drawstring itself, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I did hold the fabric very taut, since I was stitching three layers at that point, the top one of which was on the bias, and I was terrified the fabric was going to move and ripple. It did a bit, but not too much, at least on the outside (the inside, as you can see in the zipper shot above, isn’t lovely, but it’s done so I’m not going to sweat it.

I was going to wait until I could try and shove Syo into the dress to get some modeled shots before posting, but a) mysteriously she didn’t want to get up extra-early for a photo-shoot in the snow (yes, snow) before breakfast and b) I’m not 100% convinced it’s actually going to fit her. Although given that she likes everything skin-tight these days, that might be right up her alley.

Coming soon: more bodice fun!



Filed under Sewing

29 responses to “Twee Whee Wheedle Wheet

  1. Interesting! I’ve never seen a “metal” invisible zipper before – wonder why we don’t see new non-vintage ones available now, they certainly look more sturdy than there latter-day plastic offspring!

    • I’m not sure. It is a bit more bulky than the plastic versions, so my guess is that slimness + cheapness > sturdy in this case. I thought sturdy might be good for kids’ clothes, though. I know I start a mental countdown every time one of my kids gets a piece of clothing with an invisible zip.

  2. LinB

    C’est adorable! I’ve never seen a metal invisible zip, either. But, then, I haven’t looked for one … am entirely comfortable using a lapped application with a regular zip, in most places. I think that the heavy metal band version of this pattern sounds exactly right for your two offspring: still feminine, but lightyears away from the sweet little ruffled stripe dress for your niece.

    • I never had until I bought a bunch of vintage zippers from the thrift store last winter, all of which were metal, some of which were invisible. This is the first time I’ve used one of the invisible ones, though.

  3. Two of my girls are very girly. I’ll have to make this one when they hit those sizes (assuming they are still girly).

  4. When I glanced quickly at the picture before I started reading, I did have a moment of “hmmm, that’s not what I usually associate with Tanit-Isis’ family…” I really like the chevrons on the bodice, and am so glad you posted about underlining it in straight-grain fabric, as I am currently putting together a chevroned waistband that seems like it will need the same treatment. Like all the other commenters, I, too, have never seen a metal invisible zip!

  5. Super cute! Would have been too sweet for me too, in the younger days, but I bet it will look adorable. And the metal invisible zip is interesting! I might have to look for one in the future…

  6. Amy

    Yay for seersucker! This is adorable. I love it when the zipper comes out well. I love using the regular foot–it gets closer to the coils–but I am so with you, my fingers have gotten too close for comfort a few times!

    • Yeah, I haven’t ever tried the “other” method—I find this one works really well. But the metal teeth took a bit of manual manipulation. In hindsight I probably could’ve used a bobby pin or awl or something to push them out of the way a little more safely…

  7. That is super adorable. I really like how you did the chevron stripe bodice (despite the pain of the fabric). The zip turned out really good! I so need to practice that more.

    • It really wasn’t too bad—just required a little persuasion (and trimming) to get the shape right after the chevrons were together. And sometimes a bit of easing because the stripes would line up at one end but not the other. With the zipper, I find I generally need to make two passes to get *as close* to the teeth as I need… but it’s not too bad and it’s not like you have to pick out the first pass.

  8. Sherry

    Cute! I love that seersucker, and what a great idea to chevron it, it really adds interest.
    I thrifted a skirt recently with a metal invisible zip, otherwise I’ve never seen them before. It would be a little hairy sewing so close to those teeth! Definitely worth using an ordinary zip foot to get closer though – your zip looks tops!

    • Funny how they seem to have disappeared so completely! I love your method (especially now that I’ve figured out how to add the facing properly! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. The dress looks great, and I think a punk version of it (black with plaid detailing, ruffle in plaid cut on the bias) would be awesome! I am far too terrified to sew for other people’s kids, due to the sizing thing and not being sure of their preferred style.

    To my surprise, I use Sherry’s method of inserting an invisible zip too; however, I mark the zipper tape with marking pen rather than snipping it because I don’t like to worry about things unravelling. I’ve never seen a metal invisible zipper either, but I do run into them in zipper lots on Ebay/Etsy. I’m sure I’ll end up with one at some point!

    • There we go! Plaid. I knew I was missing something. Hmm, I wonder if I have any red plaid? (Not that I have an adequate supply of old metal band T-shirts, either… hmm… ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  10. Amy

    I can’t believe you can find the time for your family right now. It’s inspiring!

  11. Oooh, so sweet. Seven-year-old me would have flipped for it.

  12. I think it’s pretty and sweet and not twee at all! And it’s seersucker, which always sews up so nicely! I have to confess in my mind seersucker is such a “male” fabric, regardless of colour, because most of the summer shirts my DH used to wear were seersucker. Granted they weren’t striped pink, but still… I must say you’re brave sewing a metal invisible zip (the first I’ve ever seen, btw). I would have worn safety goggles….

  13. I love this, I think a lucky girl could punk this up, too!

  14. my nieces would LOVE that dress, they’re very girly (but will still run you over at soccer in their pink and black gear!) love the chevrons, i still haven’t attempted that…. great idea about the cross-grain lining! as far as the metal invisible zip goes, i’m in the majority of never having seen one. but as a person who is hard on zips, my attitude is ALL METAL ZIPS, ALL THE TIME!!!!!!

  15. It’s very cute, but I agree with the others that it’s probably not OTT twee. On the other hand, maybe the girls could start a new trend of OTT tweeness as a sort of ironic punkish thing. Hmm….

    As for the seam allowance thingies, I’ve seen those before and they’re intriguing. But in the end I always decide that it’s actually probably faster and more accurate to just add the seam allowances to the traced pattern piece. I mean, it’s such a fast and easy thing to do to run a ruler around the pattern piece quick. And with the guide thingies, I can totally see me getting off center at some point and not noticing until I’ve totally ruined my last piece of whatever fabric I’m using.

    Um. But that could just be me.

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