Over the past couple of weeks leading up to KCW, I have spent too much time agonizing over what to make for Froo & Boo. I feel that a garment that I make them should be extra-special, since it’s handmade and all. But underlying that, it’s because I have found the secret to affordable and cute kids clothing: the GAP Kids clearance rack, when there is an additional 40% off. No contest. Well, almost. I am still sewing for the kids, right?
Here is the 3-point summary of my thought process for my first KCW project of the year:
- Replace Froo’s outgrown chiffon wedding dress
- Use the embroidered chiffon I bought on sale last Christmas at Fabricana ($5/metre–Score! Although, I think the fabric was intended for sheer curtains…)
- Find the perfect dress pattern to go with it, aka the Made by Rae Geranium Dress
When Froo was 1 1/2 years old, our friends visiting from Japan gave her a really cute chiffon dress. She grew to love that dress and called it her “wedding dress” and said she would wear it when she married me. She wore it for years, with it gradually turning into a tight shirt. (It has plenty of elasticized shirring.) I thought I would have oodles of photos of her wearing it, but the last one I have is from her 3rd birthday:
Sadly, it no longer fits. This is one dress that I’m not handing down to friends because I want her to have it when she is older. Also, as a reminder that she once loved me so much, she wanted to marry me!
Before getting into all the construction details of the dress, let me first start by showing you the most beautiful dress I have ever made:
And seriously, this girl cannot be anymore beautiful than she already is. Froo had her reservations about replacing her old wedding dress with a new one, so it took a lot of convincing to even get her to try it on. This was her first shot:
Her fourth shot. This photoshoot was going nowhere really fast.
I brought in my photo assistant, Tiny Little Pig, but she wasn’t much help.
So now the details, starting with the fabric. Chiffon is sheer and lightweight. It’s totally shifty when you are trying to cut it so the best way to do it is to lay it flat on a cutting mat and use a rotary cutter to cut around your pattern pieces. I traced my pattern onto Pellon Tru-Grid Pattern-Tracing Material, which is sheer and clingy, which helps keep the fabric stable. Also, when cutting the front bodice, I traced both sides of the piece to create one piece, to avoid cutting the fabric on the fold. I did this with the front of the skirt as well. Do not use a ruler when cutting, it somehow stretches the chiffon askew.
For the lining I used a lightweight cotton muslin, which matched the dress perfectly. I also backed each bodice piece with muslin, basting it with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Here’s what I did differently to create a full lining for the skirt. I cut all of the skirt pieces in muslin and sewed as per the instructions. I did the same for the chiffon, except for the step of sewing down the seam edges on the back of the skirt. Instead, I serged the edges individually and pressed them open, on low heat. I did this because I didn’t want to bulk up the seams and affect the way the skirt draped.
Then I top stitched the openings of the skirt and lining together and basted the top edge together. After that, I sewed my gathering stitches and treated it as one piece.
For the side seams on both the lining and chiffon, I used 1/4″ French seams to hide the edges. Chiffon frays like crazy, but I didn’t want to add bulk by serging the edges, so I pinked (is that a verb??) the edges before enclosing them in the French seam.
The sleeves, oh the sleeves! The prettiest part of the dress. To make the sleeves, I just cut off the sleeves on View B, taped them together, added seam allowance and used the embroidered edge as bottom edge of the sleeves. I also sewed a gathering stitch to ease the sleeve in place.
For the piping, Rae has an excellent tutorial on how to add trim to the skirt. I couldn’t figure out how to machine finish the bodice lining with the piping in the way, so I hand-stitched it in place. It took a long time, but it was well worth the effort.
Now for the sad and somewhat ironic part of this wedding dress replacement project… the bodice is too tight. What makes it doubly ironic is the fact that I used muslin as my lining, when I really should have made a muslin first! I just assumed that size 5T would fit and didn’t bother to measure Froo. I made her the Flashback Skinny Tee in size 5T, which
is was big on her. She must have grown again. When did that happen?? So I had to opt out of making buttons and used hook & eye closures instead. Which is a shame because I had the perfect buttons for the dress.
Here is a side-by-side photo of the old and new wedding dresses:
Here are a couple of outtakes from our photo shoot this morning:
The KCW flickr group is full of really creative and beautiful handmade creations–oodles of pretty Geranium dresses abound. I LOVE the eyelet one by Cherie of you & mie that was featured on the KCW blog. I guess that’s what it’s all about–to see kids romping around happily in clothing made especially for them, because they are unique in every way. What a fun and meaningful way to celebrate our children!