If you've been anywhere near Pinterest in the past month or so, you may have noticed that quite a few people are pinning pictures of tulle skirts and/or expressions of their excitement over Pantone naming Emerald Green as the color of 2013. I can't say I'm disappointed in their choice of emerald green. It's a little more wearable for me than the vibrant orange of last year, though it is still, for me, not my first choice of color. Guinevere, however, is lately all about green. She's also been all over the Violette Field Threads Chloe pattern. A few months ago she saw that Audrey Hepburn-inspired photo of the dress and her excitement was such that her naturally squeaky little-girl voice went up to a pitch only the dog could hear. When the pattern went on sale on Black Friday, I went ahead and finally bought it (and two others). She is now ready and on-trend for 2013.
When we went to buy fabric, she had her eyes open for green. We looked at turquoise, purple, red, and a sunshiny yellow. She still chose green. Not just any green, the brightest, greenest, green she could find. The fabric is from the Hancock Fabrics BFF collection, so the colors were already matched for us. We bought crepe-back satin, polyester lining, chiffon, and tulle.
The pattern itself is quite easy. The fabric upped the ante on difficulty, partly from slipperiness, and partly from the sheer yardage involved in making the poofy skirt. One thing I really liked about the pattern is that the bodice is a straight front/back, no darts, no princess seams. Yes, it would look more tailored to have those details, but when dealing with slippery/puckery satin for someone with a 21" bust and a 20" waist, the overall look seems to be better without the extra seams. The skirt portion is multiple layers of gathered rectangles. The pattern itself is a multi-sized bodice and sash pieces with written directions for measuring out the skirt pieces. I made a 4T, and the fit is just about right. Not gaping at the underarms, but still has a little bit of room to grow (which is also the reason I made the skirt long). I bought the paper version of the pattern, but I would guess that the downloaded PDF version wouldn't be too overwhelming to put together since it is only the bodice/sash pieces. The paper version comes with a lovely printed full-color, glossy instruction booklet that reads very much like a blog tutorial with in-depth information on why some steps should be completed as written. There were a few quirks in the pattern that had me scratching my head, like why pieces to be placed on folds also had printed grainlines, but overall this is a lovely pattern.
The pattern leaves it to the maker's discretion how many buttons and what size to use. I had four of these pearly-looking ones in my stash, so four seemed to me to be the right number to use.
I could see a sewing newbie working with this pattern being worried about not having any guidelines for size/spacing of buttons, but it did make the bodice pattern less "busy" not to have multiple buttonhole markings covering the back center seam area.
I did deviate from the instructions a bit. It includes directions for a shorter and fuller skirt or a longer skirt with a ruffle. I made a longer full skirt with no ruffle. I also didn't use the exact fabrics recommended. The recommendation in the pattern is to use nylon chiffon that won't ravel, so the bottom doesn't need to be hemmed. I was using poly-chiffon, so there was plenty of potential for frayed edges. Since the skirt portions are gathered rectangles, it wasn't overwhelmingly difficult to do the narrow hem on the bottom, but it did add some extra time (and thread) to the dress-making process. I ended up using different finishing methods for the skirt side seams on each layer.
The innermost layer is a lightweight polyester lining fabric which was optional according to the pattern, but I didn't want to have to have her wear a slip. I sewed the side seam, then serged the edges together. The white doesn't show through, especially since the seam was already sewn with green. I don't keep green serger thread around. The bottom was turned up twice and stitched close to the edge.
The next skirt layer is poly-chiffon. It frayed extremely easily. I did a french seam, then turned up the bottom twice and again machine-hemmed.
The tulle doesn't fray, so I didn't hem it on the bottom. I did stitch the side seams twice, then trimmed close to the second line of stitching.
With all those skirt layers, the inside could easily get messy. The bodice is fully-lined. I used the same crepe-back satin for the bodice lining that I used for the outer shell. If one really wanted to do so, it would be fairly easy to join the skirt to just the outer bodice, then slip-stitch the lining into place. I chose to treat the lining and bodice as one to sew the skirt to, then serged all the layers together. Even though in theory the serger thread would add bulk, sewing them together tightly actually seemed to cut down on the bulkiness of the waist seam. It also kept the insides looking tidy.
Overall, how easy was this pattern? I traced the pattern, cut it out, and sewed together all in one day (it helped that I had yesterday and today off work). I can't remember when was the last time I went start-to-finish on a project all on one day. It left me with time today to play with various color-schemes using internet-based photo-editing software. The saturated green of the dress really lends itself to showing up in otherwise mostly black and white photos.
This is the most frosting-y of frosting dresses. So, where is she going to wear it? Well, we are planning an evening at the ballet with the Aunties in February. Also Kindergarten graduation will be happening in the spring (assuming she doesn't outgrow it before then via one of her astounding growth spurts). Otherwise, she's young enough (and likes to wear pretty dresses enough) that I think this will be one of those dresses that she will reach for on any random Sunday...with a cardigan or sweater (maybe without the sash if she wears a sweater over it) during the winter.
I've had this dress planned for a while now, and probably could have waited until February to make it up, but really wanted to get it done in time to enter it into the Pattern Review December contest, the theme of which is sewing for children. If you're a pattern review member and you feel my work this time is worthy, please vote for me in January.
I end with the obligatory full-skirt twirling picture.