Special plans


Me and my girl.

Tyo is going to be 14 this summer. This means, and doesn’t mean, all kinds of things, but in particular, she’s finishing grade eight, which around here is the end of elementary school. Next year is high school, in all its iconic glory*. (I’m not sure who’s more scared, she or I. Okay, it’s her. I love watching my kids hit new milestones—it’s my favourite thing about parenting.)

Anyway. Tyo’s friends have been bugging her to wear a dress to grad. Tyo would just as soon go in jeans (preferably ripped), but she concocted a compromise. She would wear a dress, if I would make her one. Isn’t it great when our teenagers come up with a reasonable compromise? I know!

Oh, one more thing. It must be made out of Avengers fabric.

Challenge accepted. Confession: having never made a grad dress for myself**, I’m kinda excited to make one for my daughter anyway. Avengers fabric just puts it into the awesome category, though. The only downside is that I can’t, quite, steal her clothes yet.

Sadly, my local fabric stores are not hotbeds of superhero activity. Ok, the odd Batman fabric does show up. eBay, however, turned out to be a treasure trove. Tyo picked a very old-school, garish print. Perfect. The original price of 6.99/yard seemed quite reasonable, although shipping and that pesky conversion from American dollars nearly doubled it. Still not bad, though. What arrived is not the finest of quilting cottons, but perfectly respectable.


MMMM. Wolverine and Thor…

Next up: Pattern.


Tyo sent me this pic way back last summer as an example of a dress she wouldn’t mind wearing. So with that as our inspiration, we thumbed through my pattern database. Sadly, she was not going for McCall’s 4778.


No? Not even version B?

But she did eventually bite on McCall’s 6331:


McCall’s 6331


View B, without the bustier cups. Tyo may someday embrace things like bustier cups but, fortunately for my reflexively-prudish-parental-nerves, she hasn’t yet.

We finally made up the practice version last weekend. I say finally because I have literally heard nothing but “When are we making my dress?” for like a month straight.

You will note some changes have been made.

In terms of fit, I traced off the Misses’ size 8, to match her bust, in the A/B cup size, and shortened the bodice by a good 3 cm, since her back length is nowhere near the 16″ the patterns are drafted for. Then I added that length back on at CF, in a kind of a reverse swayback adjustment, lengthening the front rather than shortening the back. This is my daughter, after all, even if the booty is all from her dad’s side of the family. I won’t exactly say the waist is level with the floor, but at least it’s closer.


The practice dress.

Originally we were going to keep the cute little collar-like flaps on the front of the McCall’s pattern; not quite the inspiration dress, but it seemed like a neat detail to me. But when it came time to test the straps, it was clear that they were too far set for her narrow shoulders (those she does NOT get from me. OK, really the list of things she doesn’t get from me is much longer than the things she does.) And because of the nature of the fold-over, moving that point inward shrank down and threw off the shape of the little triangle and it just wasn’t working. Grum. So, back to the drawing-board. Or the cutting table… a few snips and the folds were eliminated, the points reduced to a gentle curve. Bonus: without the fold-over, it became much easier to cut the front on the fold, eliminating a seam. I must admit, the little sundress-collar-thingies are just about my favourite detail for a sundress. I probably over-use them, like an indifferent novelist who has the same character recurring under different names in every book.

Oh, and the original skirt pattern has these cute scallops to each panel. Yeah, that ain’t happening.


Did I mention Tyo sewed the skirt seams herself? So helpful! Anyway, since I was using my Featherweight for the first time in months (it spent the winter at my Stylish sister-in-law’s house, in anticipation of coat-making that we never… quite… got to. 😦 ), and I had the nifty attachments like the adjustable hemmer, I thought I’d give it ago. With a little bit of adjustment and practice, I made a remarkably neat hem, just a touch over 1/4″ wide. Honestly, I’m pretty darn preening. I used all the tips people suggested in comments on my rolled-hemmer post, and they were very helpful—especially the trimming the seam-allowance when crossing seams one.

I actually kinda love how this practice dress turned out, even in the two different fabrics. I’m inclined to finish it (I need to practice my lapped zipper skills, anyway). Tyo assures me she will even wear it… next time someone has a garden party.

Although I suspect that is teenager-speak for “Never in a million billion years, mom.”

Next up will be the real dress. Plus red crinoline. I’m jealous already—I think I just might need a red crinoline. >_<


Adjustable hemmer foot. Scary Sewing Machine Attachments rating: 7/10.

*Yes, the Breakfast Club has been watched.>
**I blogged about my gr. 12 grad dress, here. Spoiler: my mom made it. In 1970. My gr.8 grad, on the other hand, did not involve home-stitched anything. I wore a souvenir blouse my father brought back from a trip to Montreal (a foreign and exotic land,) and one of those lightweight cotton broomstick skirts that were all the rage in the early nineties. It was a beautiful skirt, and I held on to it for years after, until, early in blog-hood, it became a part of this dress.



Filed under Sewing

27 responses to “Special plans

  1. This is going to end up so cool! So much more awesome than an off the rack dress, I like the inspiration dress too.
    I made an avengers dress for my daughter recently as well, lots more casual than this though and I only had enough fabric to do the skirt in it (blogged about here; http://suzybeesews.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/newlook-6048-avengers-dress.html). We’ve been on the lookout for superhero sheets to make more dresses since I showed her yours and cationdesigns dresses!

  2. Not half bad indeed for a practice dress hun :-)!
    Re: attachments – I’ve yet to try mine out – so glad the hemmers aren’t as scary as they look though! (I keep buying them ultra-cheap in weird mixed batches on eBay – you know, those listings were the seller is a non-sewer and has no idea what the stuff is and sells it for like £3 LOL ;)!)

    • They are worth playing with—some seem to work better than others (subtle variations in the shaping of the scroll and surrounding foot, I think). Those ebay lots sound dangerously addictive… I already have a bad habit when things like that show up at the thrift stores.

  3. This is going to be the most awesome grad dress ever!! I can’t wait to see the finished version, because the test run is a good start (style wise, not sold on the fabrics, LOL!). Will you be doing a contrast for the little neckline thingys or stick with the Avengers through the whole dress?

    • Thank you! Ha, I kinda like the fabrics in spite of myself. It’s the 90s romantic twitch, I suspect. 😉

      Not sure. I had been thinking of Avengers throughout, but a visual break for the eyes might be nice. I’m also contemplating piping, because MUST PIPE ALL THE THINGS.

  4. sewingonpins

    That is going to be the coolest grad dress there. In fact, possibly the coolest grad dress ever!

    • I dunno, one of my friends wore a 1700s panier dress to our grad… that’s pretty hard to beat. 😉

      It will be very cool, though, I’m quite excited. Another of her friends is making her own dress, too, so it won’t be the only homemade dress there, either!

  5. I can’t wait to see the finished Avengers dress. It’s going to be awesome! And I love the practice dress too!

  6. Avengers dress = awesome.

  7. Ooo! Can’t wait to see this completed!

  8. LinB

    This reveals my age: when I read “Avengers” dress, I immediately thought you were going for something that Emma Peel might wear.

    • Ha! One of my friends in high school was obsessed with Emma Peel (this was around the time the remake movie came out, speaking of age). Alas, no, this will be far less classy. 😉

      • LinB

        Haha! I told my husband about the Avengers dress, and he said, “How cool that a 14-year-old wants to dress like Emma Peel!” He was positively deflated when I explained about the comic book heros.

        Oh, wait. That sounds kind of creepy when I re-read it! He’s not a creep — when he travels for work, he haunts the local thrift stores to seek out sewing patterns and paraphernalia for me. It is he who is addicted to buying vintage sewing machines and cabinets. Also, he can spot woolen yarn from across a store, and easily tell it apart from the plastic stuff.

  9. I am full of admiration for the two of you. She wants you to make her something, she’s done some of it, she picked an AWESOME print and you didn’t blink. You are a great mom and she is a swell daughter.

    I’d go with a matching deep royal blue for contrast pieces, but only if they are small. The …ur…chest awnings should stay as a print, or they are going to really draw more attention to her chest than either of you may desire.

    And at one point, J. Peterman had a replica Emma Peel vinyl catsuit for sale.

    Avengers assemble!

    • Aww, shucks. Now I’m blushing,

      Heh… chest awnings. I hadn’t actually thought about that being attention-grabbing if they were in solids. Hmm. I kinda object to that being an objection on principal, but it’s not my dress and Tyo’s not really into being flamboyantly female quite yet… hmm.

      I like the idea of blue accents, too, but a) red’s more, well, red, and b) I couldn’t find anything to match the blue. 😉

  10. Trudyd

    OOOHHH! I made a cute little dress out of that fabric for a friends new baby that they named Marvel !! I also managed to get a pair of shorts for my girl out of them too, we got so many compliments!

    • OMG that sounds like so many levels of meta-cute that it makes my head explode! Also, I can totally see Tyo wearing shorts made out of any scraps. Probably high-waisted ones, with suspenders.

  11. this sounds like a great dress — but I’m a little confused – is grad the graduation ceremony or a dance associated with it?

    • Um, the entire process? It’s just Gr. 8 so it’s not like it’s a big formal event, really just a little ceremony at the school and then maybe an afterparty. I have a feeling she’ll want to wear the dress all day, so hopefully it will be comfy enough for that.

  12. It will be the coolest grad dress ever! Love the inspiration and love the fabric Tyo picked! Can’t wait to see it!

  13. This is like an advert for Why We Sew! You are the most awesome Mum in the world and that fabric is fantastic.

  14. This is fantastic. I’ve got a 16 yr old and an 11 yr old….but the eldest only wears dresses when she cosplays or her school choir dress because it’s mandatory. I would love to make her a geeky grad dress but luckily I think I’ll get to do it in a few years for her little sister. Do you know what’s the coolest about this whole post though? That look on Tyo’s face in just the practice dress….if she’s not channeling super hero pride I don’t know what that is….she’s going to look so fantastic in the finished dress and there are going to be so many kids (and grown-ups) rightly jealous of her dress. She’s so lucky to have such an awesome Mum 🙂

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