Friday, February 27, 2015

Two Pretty Dresses

We are winding up the Southern Snowpocalypse down here. The kids have been home from school four days this week - for the second week in a row. It's funny to admit it, but I think we're kind of beginning to establish a nice rhythm with us all home. That said, I'm desperate for Spring to arrive! While stuck indoors with everyone all week, I somehow found some time to make two adorable little dresses for Lyla. They were the perfect kind of sewing projects for a week like this.

This is the Geranium Dress from Made By Rae, probably my favorite dress pattern. I've made several before, but it had been a while. Lyla's measurements put her in an 18-24 month size, but I extended the skirt pattern pieces to the 2T length. It fits perfectly. That's one of my favorite things about this pattern - the fit is so good. It's also quick to sew and perfect for fancy or rumpus play.

I kind of forgot that I'd been hoarding this fabric (for years). It's one of Lizzy House's beautiful butterfly prints from Hello Pilgrim. I don't think this particular color is so easy to fins these days, but the print is going to be released soon in a heap of amazing new colors!!   Thanks to a fun Instagram poll, I chose two wooden buttons for a sweet finish on the back.  Perfection! 

I've made an executive decision this year. I want to sew a million little dresses for this girl, but I think I'm going to try to refrain from harassing her with organized photo shoots. I'd rather catch her unexpectedly, running around the park this Spring or eating ice cream this Summer, wearing a pretty handmade.  I did manage to get a quick iphone shot. She loves this one!   

So, after getting my feet wet in dress sewing again, I decided to try a new pattern. This is dress b from Happy Homemade Vol 2, Sew Chic Kids, the somewhat recent English version of this popular Japanese pattern book. I have admired this book and all of it's wonderfully simple, lovely and practical patterns for years, but was a bit intimidated Japanese patterns.

This simple, squared neckline dress ("dress b") seemed like a good place to start. It's always good to find a thorough blog post about a pattern before you dive in, so I did a bit of research first.  In terms of sewing Japanese patterns in general, I remembered following this series over on you & mie. It has lots of great tips. Some don't really apply to the English version of this book, but some do and were super helpful!  

One of the big differences in Japanese sewing patterns is that seam allowances are not included on the pattern drawings. There is a good section in the book that describes how and where to add them to your pattern pieces. I used this super clever double pencil method that Meg from Elsie Marley describes here. Keep in mind though, it gives an approximate 1/4" seam allowance and the pattern calls for 3/8". So, either you can sew 1/4" seams or cut your pattern out a bit bigger. I decided to just sew generous 1/4" seams through most of the dress (I used 3/8"on the side seams of the skirt), because my daughter is so petite and this dress seems pretty roomy. It worked fine and fits great!  

Another noticeable difference with Japanese sewing patterns is that the pattern instructions are quite limited. Whereas with many English patterns you get pages of written instructions and diagrams, in this book you just get a page or two, with small detailed sketches. I noticed, too, that on some patterns they omit steps, because they are covered in another pattern that uses similar pieces and construction techniques.

If you've sewn quite a few dresses, I think you could easily reason out the basic steps. Still, with this particular pattern, I found myself scratching my head a couple of times. I did what I thought made sense, and it worked, although I'm not sure my steps were consistent with the pattern. On the back of the dress, I either made the button loops too long or didn't place them properly. But they work fine, so I'm not gonna sweat it. The binding on the back placket on the top of the skirt was also a bit tricky, but worked out in the end.

In the end, the dress was about 2-3 inches too long for my little gal, so I shortened it. I wasn't so surprised by this, as the heights in the sizing chart seemed tall, at least for the size 2. And, I'd read that others who've made this pattern had the same experience. On the topic of hems, I have to mention that I've been using this hem trick that I read about over on The Craft Sessions blog, on all of my recent garments. It's such a great method and I've been getting a perfect hem every time! Super love it!

So, those are my thoughts. I definitely enjoyed the experience and plan to make more patterns from this book. And, I/we love this dress! The fabric, is of course, from one of Cotton and Steel's latest collections, Tokyo Train Ride, by Sarah Watts. It's the perfect pairing, in my humble opinion, for this pattern and style. All of my kids got a kick out of this Harajuku print and thought it was so sweet, funny, and cute all at once. So true!

Lyla is now officially dress obsessed. Perhaps almost as much as her Mama. It's making me happy to see her handmade wardrobe growing a bit. Do you have a favorite little girl's dress pattern? Please share!


  1. Such sweet dresses! I especially love the thoughtfulness of the lining fabrics you chose, they're just perfect.

    1. Thanks so much Stephanie! I love using something special for the linings.

  2. Can't get over how adorable these dresses are! Almost makes me want to learn garment sewing. ;-)

  3. Laurel - I'm sure you know but any O&S pattern is Great, but I also recommend checking out The Cottage Mama patterns. Her book is so great and her patterns are so detailed and full of great little additions you can make.