I wanted to sew a “designer dress” for my 12 year old granddaughter’s birthday. Spoonflower sells specially designed material in hundreds of patterns that are printed on a variety of materials. I successfully bought Spoonflower organic cotton material and sewed a butterfly patterned dress for my daughter-in-law’s rehearsal dinner and it fit her well.
I had my granddaughter also pick a material design for her dress and she picked a bold diamond pattern.
For comfort and flow I bought her material in polyester jersey knit. I also bought a white jersey lining material at JoAnne Fabrics in polyester that had a similar stretch.
I lined the entire dress with this white material and it seemed to brighten the dress.
Before I cut and sewed the red and black dress I decided to sew a sample dress for sizing. My daughter’s family lives in Germany so I had to have them measure my granddaughter. They did a good job except when it came to the neck to waist measurement.
I had a striped jersey knit from the early 70’s that I never used. Since what goes around comes around again, it looked as bold as some of today’s materials.
I had enough for a sample dress but not quite enough to make the skirt full and gathered so I bought another pattern for a flared skirt.
I have learned to trace patterns onto interfacing so that the tissue paper pattern does not get ruined especially if alterations are required.
I needed to practice sewing jersey with my Singer 9966 machine and bought special ball point needles for the work. It turned out that these needles dulled quickly and when the material began to catch in the feed plate I knew I had to throw out the needle and replace it. I decided to sew a winter style with long sleeves and a cowl neck that was not part of the pattern. Sewing the collar horizontally gave the dress some dimension with the sash the pattern called for.
I purchased the mannequin for the wedding rehearsal dress and it’s a great addition to my sewing tools. Setting it up for body measurements is relatively easy despite the multiple adjustment wheels. The one problem with the neck to waist measurement they sent was that it was way too long. So I cut to the pattern waistline instead. When they visited at Christmas the waist was still too long so I measured again and was able to shorten the waist to fit.
The next step was tackling the new expensive material. With the bold pattern it was important to match the diamonds. I also chose to make this skirt very full like the rehearsal dress.
But she wanted a v neck which made sense with the material so I bought another pattern so the neck would be properly proportioned. Fortunately some patterns are sold at less than retail on EBay and Amazon.
Unfortunately I failed to take into account the dart for the bust so I made the first bodice about an inch too short.
It was obvious on the model after I had stitched it together so I cut a longer bodice. But while I was sewing it I blindly followed the pattern steps and mistakenly sewed sleeveless seams into it. She wanted short sleeves! Luckily I had barely enough material and lining to cut and sew a third bodice. When the bodice was complete I gathered and basted the skirt and sewed it to the bodice. The first try had uneven gathers on the right.
I decided I could not live with it so I ripped out the seam and sewed the waist again. I used bias tape to cover the multiple layers of material in the waist.
This full skirt would be difficult and time consuming to hem by hand. I hemmed the butterfly dress by hand but it was an easier material to work with. For this dress I hemmed both the lining skirt and the outer skirt by machine. That made the stitches very even.
We visited Germany for spring break at Easter so I brought out both dresses. Alice tried them on but did not remove her pants!
The altered waist now fit her.
Despite the addition of an invisible zipper in back of the dress, she was able to get the stretch jersey over her upper body without opening it.
And the dress she wanted fit her! She even twirled in the wide skirt.
The big question is after I spent the better part of two months sewing these dresses and the expensive Spoonflower material ($120) and other supplies, will she ever wear either dress? I hope so!