Spring is finally here! And, with spring comes Easter.
And, what would be more fun to sew than a beautiful new Easter dress?
Since I would not be wearing an Easter dress anywhere this year, I decided that for my next sewing project I would make a little girl’s Easter dress. I still had the pattern from the last little girl’s dress that I had made laying on my cutting table, and I had wanted to make another version of this dress pattern, but while incorporation some of the things that I had learned from making the first dress, it was a very easy decision to use this as the pattern for the little girls Easter dress.
Easter dresses are usually very fancy with lots of ruffles and lace, but by picking this pattern, this Easter dress would be very basic. I could have added all of the ruffles and lace to this pattern but I decided not to. Rather than this dress being an Easter dress that would only be wore for a couple of hours one time on Easter morning, I thought it should be a fun dress with Easter bunnies on it that could be worn the week before Easter and then all day on Easter and after Easter was over too. Hopefully, it would be a fun dress that any little girl would enjoy wearing in the springtime!
Because of the pattern that I chose, it was easy to select the Easter bunny cotton fabric I had on hand as the dress fabric. This was a remanent I had picked up at Joann’s last sale that had not even made it to the stash yet. And for the lining fabric, I grabbed the yellow lining that I had used for the first dress. I thought that it worked well enough for the lining of the last dress and it matched the purple color of the dress fabric. Plus using it would save me a trip to the stash to look for some white lining fabric.
Cutting out this dress went smoothly but I did make some changes to it as I cut. I cut the bodice lining 1/2 inch longer, making it longer than the dress fabric. My hope was that the extra 1/2 inch of length would help with the “stitch in the ditch” seam when finishing the waist. Having a little more fabric to fold up should help if this slippery lining fabric started to unfold as it did on the first dress while it was being sewn. Hopefully this would help keep the raw edges from being exposed. I also decided while I was cutting out this dress to not stitch the lining and dress fabric together at the hem as I did before. I would hem the lining and the dress fabric separately. With this in mind, I cut the lining 2 inches shorter than the dress fabric so that there was no chance it would hang below the dress fabric after being hemmed.
Once it was all cut out I followed along with the pattern guide to make this dress the same way I had on the first dress. This time though I used the serger which I did not use on the first dress. I serged the bottom of the lining of the bodice. In doing so, I hoped that it would give me something to feel through the dress fabric as I “stitched in the ditch” at the waist as well as give a finished edge so that if the lining slipped while “stitching in the ditch” and was just barely caught, it would be catching on more than just a raw edge. Because I was not hemming the lining and the dress fabric together this time, I needed to finish the seams of the skirt and lining. I finished these with the serger as well as serging the hems before hemming. It had all worked well up to this point and as I had said, it was crazy not to use my available sewing tools to make a project better and easier. I used the floss method of gathering again because it had worked so well on the first dress.
The skill I needed to work on from the last dress was the finishing of the lining at the waist after the gathered skirt was attached to the dress fabric bodice or what I keep referring to as the “stitch in the ditch” seam. As mentioned, I had already taken measures to help assure the success of this seam by cutting the bodice lining longer and serging the edge. After pinning the lining to the bodice and getting ready to sew this seam, I could tell I was in for another disaster. The slippery lining was already falling out of place in between the pins. So I decided that I needed to rethink this. What could I do to hold the lining in place as I stitched on the dress fabric? The answer was to use some Seam to Seam adhesive paper. I cut 1/4 inch strips of Seam to Seam paper, stuck one adhesive side to the seam allowance of the skirt and bodice and then stuck the folded bodice lining to the other side. I then pinned the seam together again and headed for the sewing machine. At this point with all of my preparations, the sewing of this seam went smoothly. After completing it, I only had one spot where the lining had slipped and was missed by the seam and that was in a spot where I had skimped on using the Seam to Seam. One might say that using the Seam to Seam adhesive is a cheat and is not learning this sewing skill properly, but I say, hey, use the tools that are available to you. Plus, it still wasn’t a perfect seam. More practice is needed.
With the dress completed, it needed a little something to make it an Easter dress, so I decided to add a belt and tie to the waist. This would have been much easier if I had decided to add the belt and tie earlier in the sewing process, but I didn’t so I improvised it as best I could. To make the belt and tie, I measured the front bodice and cut a piece of white scrap to that length and made it 3 inches wide. Then, with the remainder of the white scrap, I cut two pieces as long as I had fabric by 3 inches wide. I then seamed these together to make one long piece of fabric. Folding the fabric lengthwise, I stitched the piece, turned the tube, and finished the ends. I lined the horizontal seam up with the side seams and then stitched it. I was going to stitch up one side seam, across the top of the tie on the bodice and then down the other side seam, then across the bottom, but when it came to stitching across the bottom, across the gathers of the skirt, I stopped. This was not going to work. If I had been stitching the belt and tie on while sewing the dress I would have put the bottom of the tie at the bottom of the bodice instead of over the skirt, but that did not happen. So instead I decided to leave the bottom unstitched. This does not look good on the hanger but I believe when the dress is being worn that the tie will be pulled tight and it will look fine. I wish the ties were longer but that was how big my scrap pieces were so that is length they are.
I am not as pleased with the belt and tie as I thought I would be but since it was an after thought on this dress, I think it is fine. Actually, the more I look at the tie the more I like it. I think the Easter dress turned out to be very cute. I have some bad news though. The little neighbor girl has moved away and I have lost my model for my kids clothes. So, I can’t tell you if leaving tie unstitched at the bottoms is ok when the dress is being worn. I am also unable to find out if it is preferred to have the dress fabric and lining hemmed to together or if having them hemmed separately is the way to go. I am going to have to find another 5 year old girl to wear my creations.
Until next time, sew forth and sew on!