Seriously, it's taken me longer to finish up this post than it did to sew these two dresses! Oy. When Cassie started testing for her Merry and Mod holiday dresses (for Little Lizard King Patterns) and was looking for a couple of bloggers to sew up both of them, I couldn't resist. Miss P has been wanting to do a photoshoot with one of her buddies, and this was the perfect opportunity. Her friend M is absolutely adorable and was up for anything - M's mom has a gorgeous, classic style and I knew she'd love the Merry dress pattern.
Miss P is all about comfort, and I wanted to add bishop sleeves to the Mod dress for her.
The fabrics for both girls' dresses were coordinated to match M's front door - their beautiful home was the perfect setting for our photos. The weather has been unseasonably warm this fall, and both girls were good sports about running around outside for me.
The dresses were a hit all around; the patterns are well-written and well-fitting. I did one fitting with each girl to make sure we were on the right track with the size, and the finished dresses fit them beautifully.
I made a modification to each of the dresses, and thought I'd share a little more about those here. For Miss P's dress, I used a fair isle print sweatshirt knit and eliminated the back button placket by cutting both the front and back on the fold and keeping the higher neckline for the back. I used ivory cotton/lycra for the lining so it would be soft but not bulky.
For the sleeves, I modified the long sleeve pattern piece to make a bell-shaped sleeve with a cuff. I used a lighter weight sweater knit for the sleeves and cuffs. I made sure to keep the armscye curve of the original sleeve, and then flared the sleeve out to make a bell shape. I shortened the sleeve to account for the height I wanted the cuff to be, and then cut the cuffs to fit. The sleeves were gathered before attaching the cuffs, which I did flat before closing the sleeve seam, as shown below:
For M's Merry dress, I knew I wanted to add a sash in case the bodice turned out to be a little wide for her. Her chest measurement is rather slim, but she's average height and size for a 5-year-old, so I didn't want to reduce the size of the armscyes or height of the bodice while reducing the width. I reduced the bodice width by one size, and left the rest as drafted (so it was a size 4/5 hybrid). The pleated skirt is an exercise in precision sewing (ahem, not something I'm known for), and I was reluctant to alter the bodice too much out of fear that the skirt wouldn't set into the bodice correctly.
The sash I added was designed to be adjustable, by tacking it down at the side seams of the dress and threading the tails through the back of the bow. The sash became the "tails" of the bow itself, and could be tightened or loosened as needed. Here's how I did it:
Begin by sewing the main portion of your sash - I used the full WOF for my size 5, and it was a great length. The ends of the sash will become the "tails" for your bow, so you'll want to make sure they're long enough to cinch the bodice as much as you need/want to. To sew the sash, I folded it along the long edge and sewed with a 1/4" SA along the long edge and one short end. I turned it right side out, gave it a good press, and tucked the other short end inside the tube and topstitched it in place. Lay your sash in place under the bodice, and make sure the tails cross over where you want the bow to be positioned. In this case, I wanted the bow to be a bit off-center.
To make the bow, I cut two rectangles and sewed them RST, leaving a small opening for turning. The bow center was sewed along the long edge RST first, then turned right sides out. I then sewed the short ends with RST to make it into a loop.
I used my fingers to accordion fold the bow and begin to pull it through the bow center.
Holding the bow, carefully begin to thread the ends of the sash through the back of the bow center. The "tails" will enter the bow center from opposite sides/ends, and cross over each other. Make sure to keep them laying nice and flat as you pull them through, adjusting as needed.
These patterns are packed with details already, but were great for customizing too. A well-drafted pattern is the easiest to adapt, and Merry and Mod are no exception. Aside from the pleating on Merry's skirt, which is admittedly a bit time-consuming, they both sew up pretty quickly, too. There are still 4 days till Christmas - plenty of time to sew one up for a special little lady in your life. You can find the patterns here (Merry) and here (Mod) and make sure to join us over in the LLK Group on FB to share your finished work!
As 2015 comes to a close, all the best from my family to yours for a happy and healthy New Year!