Monday, 9 April 2012

Its a long way down the holiday road.....Easter dress for Audrey

Hope everyone had a lovely easter long weekend.  The one weekend a year where chocolate calories don't count....Was a lovely de-stressing weekend for me starting off with a beautiful swim under clear skies down at Barney Point beach (as usual the beach was overcrowded with just one other family down there enjoying the high tide! its almost my own private swimming beach).  Then had to brave the sales up in Rockhampton with spotlight having 40% of all fabrics.....droool! And of course spent all of yesterday making the, as promised, dress for my gorgeous niece Audrey.  NewLook 6974 - the goddess dress - and here is the end result:

 not having children of my own, Milly kindly volunteered to model the end product for me....

As you can see the dress has a pretty decent wingspan so Auds should be able to get some good twirling action out of this dress.  I did view B of the dress in size 1 which has wide gathered shoulder straps and 4 goddess (aka godets) panels, zipper at the back plus a lining.  I naturally ditched the lining - this was going to be a day dress and thought a lining would be too fussy for a toddler. 

Of course it was hard not to take inspiration from the pattern cover and the suggested fabric combination of leopard print and bright pint.....(seriously? for a toddler) but I resisted the temptation and went with a Michael Miller cotton print Lil Princess.  The goddess panels took a little more thought - I could feel the rust in the creativity cog as it attempted to fire up - and then I cracked under the pressure and simply went with some solid colours.  To try and take it to the next level I decided I wanted the colours mixed into the dress belt ties and in the shoulder straps.

The shoulder strap pattern piece took a bit of rejigging to get the colours mixed in as  I had to break the one rectangle pattern piece into 4 pieces.  Was excited to be able to pull out the calculator and use those engineering skills to figure out the width of all four pattern pieces so that I would end up with even width bands.

Construction was relatively simple, if not for the multiple mistakes I made along the way.  Me and the unpicker (who I hereby name Ripley....after my favourite movie heroine!) got very well aquainted in the making of this dress.   A couple of construction issues I discovered a long the way
  • I couldn't get the notches to match between the dress panels and godets in the pattern piecess.  Not sure if this is just limited to size 1 but it was anoying as it made me hesitate as I looked at my fabric pieces, looked at the pattern, looked at my fabric pieces then had some chocolate.....In the end I matched the tops and bottoms of each piece and that worked fine.
  • The gathered shoulder strap is very, very, very frustrating.  You are trying to gather two layers of fabric with one end containing a seam and the overall width is tincy-tiny.  It did not gather well.  In the end I ripped out the gathering stitches (hello Ripley!), and hand pleated the ends together to get the overall desired width. 
  • My gathers at the front of the dress look demented...seriously....they are the worse looking gathers I've seen.  Again the gathers suffer from lack of width to work with and me not checking the end result.
  • With such a large skirt circumference I had issues with the hem.  It puckered from all that extra fabric being turned up.   In the end its a toddler dress, its not overly noticeable at adult level and I can't imagine Auds playgroup friends bringing it up in conversation (hi Auds...girl, whats up with your dress....that hem is seriously weird....hey who stole my Thomas train......)

Because I ditched the lining, I had to come up with another way to finish the armholes.  I decided to bias bind the armholes as I figured that would be simpler......hmmm....lets just say it was good practice for me.  The end result is OK but think next time I would just draft up two pattern pieces for the yoke side facing to attach to the yoke front and yoke back facings.

Inside of dress, seams zigzag stitched and pinked.  Armhole bias binding
So summary
Pattern:                NewLook 6974
Fabric:                 Michale Miller Lil Princess Lil Bitty cotton print
                            100% Homespun cotton in blue, pink, yellow and green for godets
Instructions:        Very easy to follow, I like NewLook patterns for toddlers.  This is a really good
                             beginner dress as it has quite a few panels but the overall construction is very
                            simple.  So really satisfying feeling at the end.
Size:                     Comes in sizes 1/2-4.  I did a size 1 for a 1.5 yr old fairly normal sized toddler.  I
                             think it is going to run a little big in length for Auds and I feel as though I want
                             to cut at least 2 inches off the length of the dress.  Am visiting in two weeks so will
                             check the fit when I go down.
Modifications:     No lining, bias binding on armholes.   Slight tweaks to shoulder pieces and dress

Coming a Sewing Room near you
So with Audreys dress out the way its time to focus back on me and the next project is big...really big...cue scary music  (for the complete experience click on link to activate scary music from youtube).  Is it playing?  Ahh stupid youtube ads....OK wait 3 seconds and skip it....Is it playing?  Good, now read slowly like the cinema voiceover guy.......

Coming soon to Gladstone, starting on Friday the 13th and continuing through the entire weekend will be the scariest thing I have ever tackled.  It will test my beginnerish sewing skills to the limit.   There will be tears, there will likely be a cramp in the back of my shoulder that I just can't reach and there will definitely be copious chocolate consumption, but how will it end......?  Will Ripley make a cameo appearance or have a starring role?  So what is this challenge that befalls me........I will be attempting to make Butterick 4443.  My first ever Butterick pattern and it is a fitted, A-Line dress, with lining, princess seams, blind hem, zipper cotton!! Its going to be in linen.  So stay tuned....things could get interesting......

Title reference:  Holiday Road, by Lindsey Buckingham


  1. Thanks for the review on this pattern! I'm in the middle of making it for my daughter and should have heeded your words on the gathered straps; they are every bit as fiddly as you say. Your dress looks gorgeous!

    1. Thankyou! I finally got to see the dress on my niece and it looks really nice on and the twirl action is excellent - so a great choice for your daughter. I am wishing now that I had done the lining as I discovered the real reason for having it was too protect soft sensitive baby skin from the zipper! oh well. Yeah, the straps took a LOT of patience!