Tiny Princess Highjackers

Lately, the twins have had a breakthrough realization—Mommy MAKES clothes.

Which means she can make dresses

All dresses must be PRINCESS dresses.

Which means she can make PRINCESS dresses.

Tris in particular is super keen to sew by herself, diligently selecting a fabric (anything pink… yes, we’re in THAT phase) and shoving it through the under-arm space of the sewing machine in the hopes that it will magically come out the other side a dress. I also need to double check all my machine settings every time I sit down (we won’t go into the time she somehow changed all my server’s tension settings to 0 WHILE I was sewing with it)

Anyway, the result is that instead of a measured progression through my sewing queue, I keep getting side-tracked by adorable and insistent requests to make dresses out of THIS fabric. And they’re so excited it’s difficult to resist, and all of a sudden I’m highjacked.

It doesn’t help that my friend Temperence Swimwear Intimates, gave me a bunch of kid-print knit remnants, that I really need to use promptly lest they linger in stash beyond the twins’ interest in them.

Of course, the twins’ sense of what a suitable amount of fabric for a princess dress is a bit, ah, flexible. There was the day Tris was determined to make herself a pink princess dress out of a single small mitten. I was able to divert her only by digging out some of the fabric for Temperance (and I don’t have a lot of pink fabric at all, by the way…) It was really just scraps I think were supposed to become undies.

That resulted in the first highjack dress, a revisit of the same pattern I used for the little ghost girl dresses last summer. If this version looks more like a shirt in flat-lay, it’s because I decided to use a band for the neckline and then, instead of gathering the neckline and sewing it to the band, tried to rely on the band’s own recovery for the gathering. It’s a pretty beefy cotton-spandex with great recovery, but even so there are limits. As a result, the neck is pretty large. But she’ll be able to wear it as a shirt until she’s ten or something.

I did irresponsibly dodge my parental obligation to make River a dress next, well, until a couple of days ago when they were digging through the fabric again and she spotted this tool print cotton interlock… of which there was a scant half-mètre or so.

I did, however, also have plenty of plain white interlock, purchased in the days when I was fantasizing about making my husband T-shirts. I figured I could eke it out.

Now, long and long ago I made these cute little dresses for the twins, which are basically just a long-sleeve tee pattern, slightly cropped, with gathered skirt attached. And I really think that’s the best basic style for making a winter-friendly dress for a smallish kid. These are long since outgrown, and frankly were outgrown far too quickly, so I didn’t want to make anything that fit “just right”. My go-to pattern for kids tees is Jalie 2805, but I didn’t really want to use the size I traced out for these tees last year and I was much too lazy to trace a new size, so instead I dig through the mass of un-filed patterns sitting on my basement counter until I settled on the fairly forgettable McCall’s 3315, which stood out only in that it was a single size, 3, and was “for unbonded stretchable knits”.

Actually it’s a pretty cute, slightly flared turtleneck dress pattern with a non-knit jumper to go over top, but it’s also an early 70s knit pattern—designed for stuff without too much stretch, and with way too much ease in the sleeve cap. But, I wanted roomy, and a bit of a puffed sleeve cap just adds to the princess cred of the dress, so I went with it, or at least the portion above the waist. Since I didn’t want a turtleneck style, and did want to add a band, I cut the neckline down a good 3/4”. I ended my use of the pattern at the lengthen/shorten line, which created the slightly cropped length I was going for, and omitted the CB seam since no I’m not going to put a zipper in a knit.

For River’s dress, we had extremely limited print fabric. After I had cut the sleeves, I had wanted to use the remaining print for the square skirt, but it would’ve made a very scant, not very twirly princess skirt. So I cut the piece in two to make a bottom tier, and cut the upper tier out of the white interlock. I added a print “waistband” to the top, too, to break up the white, using a bit more of the stuff I had cut off for the band at the neck. I had been envisioning two gathered tiers, but it turned out that my two lengths of print put together was only slightly longer than the single length I had cut of the white. I could of course have reduced the amount of white in the skirt, but instead I just eased the two together. You can see that it gives a slightly more flared shape to the skirt. The most important part is that it twirls, though. I used a fair bit of coverstitch topstitching to flatten down the extra seams in this dress; this worked well for the tiers of the skirt, but I don’t like how it turned out on the waistband so I will likely rip that out.

I asked them for Princess poses. Apparently this meant standing on one foot.

Tris’s second dress was made after (trying to take turns) and under no such fabric limitations as I have a full 2m of this abstract rose print in stash, purchased way back when my nieces were small enough to enjoy it. I’m happy to get to use it on the twins, though this project didn’t come close to using it up. I did want to harmonize with River’s dress, though, so I asked Tris if I could make the bodice white like River’s, and she agreed. Part of me wishes I had done the tiered skirt part as well, but also that adds a butt ton more time to the project and this is cutting into my me-sewing time already, dammit. As it is, Tris’s dress came together in just over an hour thanks to all the machines being already set up (give or take having to check all the settings and occasionally rethreading things, thanks to my very helpful helpers.)

In the end, it was pretty fun to see these come together quickly and how excited the twins were by them. I didn’t really sew when my older girls were in the twirly-dresses stage; I did sew a few twirly dresses for my nieces when they were young, (like this one) but they were done as presents, not collaborations where they got to pick the fabric and “help” with the sewing.

I’m also wondering if this is the end of the era of twinning outfits. Since starting school the twins are much more vocal about their sartorial preferences, and they’re rarely wanting to wear the same thing at the same time. I already mentioned how Tris wants EVERYTHING pink right now. And thank goodness for the plethora of hand-me-down tights they’ve finally grown into because it’s all dresses all the time right now, so their adorable overalls and jeans and flannel shirts are getting less than no love.

Ultimate Princess Level unlocked.

So now I can get back to finishing boning my Victorian bodice. Except, um… I stumbled on this Butterick pattern while looking through the mess. Have you ever seen a more ultimate princess dress??? I’m loathe to give the decade of my birth credit for much, but they could do a princess dress like nobody’s business. Anyway. I’m exhausted just looking at it… but also… can I not? Maybe I’ll just read the instructions…



Filed under Sewing

18 responses to “Tiny Princess Highjackers

  1. Jeff Laskowski

    Your beautiful girls are fortunate to have a mother that makes them such wonderful garments.

  2. kate

    My Nana made that Butterick dress for my little cousins to be flower kids at my wedding back then. It is incredibly princessy.

  3. ceci

    I was looking at the ultimate princess pattern and thinking “flower girls” – I bet there were tons of them. Back in the ’50s I had a mom-made dress with that pointed waist and it must have been hard to make because I remember that the pattern disappeared from the options pile after that.


    • 😂 This one certainly wouldn’t be an option more than once! But I only have up to a size 4 so if it isn’t made soon it’ll have to wait for another generation of princesses.

  4. It’s so awesome that you sew for and with them. They are going to have amazing memories.

  5. It’s amazing how fast twins get tired of twinning. My cousins were the same way, as soon as they started school, matching was OUT. I’ve heard their aunts (also twins) were the same way. Boys take more time, I had friends growing up who twinned until like 5th grade, but they were identical and wore different colors of the same thing, so maybe they didn’t notice as much for longer. Both girls look very princessy in their dresses, though I’m kind of partial to the tool print dress. Because this girl has always loved her some tools. Just last night my husband was talking about how I’m always game to buy another power tool. 😆🤷‍♀️

    • Yeah, it’s funny because they will fight over who gets to wear a particular dress, but when there’s two the same they rarely both want to wear the same. I will say, I’ve been surprised at how practical twinning their outfits can be… because even if you’re not twinning, you’re looking for the same “kind” of clothes, and decision fatigue piles up surprisingly quickly. So picking just one outfit can be a lot easier. But now they’re picking their own…

  6. Oh, and for ultimate princess dress patterns, search for “daisy kingdom” patterns. A quick Google didn’t pull up the exact one my mom made my sister and I, but there are a bunch of them.

  7. Just read the directions. That will be exhausting enough.

  8. Abbey S

    Great post :). I would be inclined to adopt some of the butterick princess dress aspects, like the over skirts and bows, and use them on a knit dress—less fitting. On the other hand, I don’t have kids, so what do I know. Have great holidays with your family! 🙂 Abbey

    • The only issue is knits don’t tend to have the “pouf” factor needed for a true princess dress. The twins did get get some princess dresses for Christmas so I might be off the hook for a little bit…😅

  9. Your twins look so happy, and you are so clever using these little pieces of print effectively. I I love it that pushing fabric under the sewing machine is how a dress appears.
    I made that Butterick pattern for my neice, in horrible pink and gold polyester as a dress up costume present, and it was a great hit, but took about 15 hours.

    • Yes, I’m reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the fancy stuff they want is just as time consuming as if I were making it for me. 😂 Still haven’t made the Butterick dress yet. Currently attempting to produce mermaid tails. 🤦🏻‍♀️

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