After finishing Kitty’s camera bag so far in advance of her birthday I think it must have triggered some irrepressible reaction in my brain of the sort that says it isn’t really a handmade birthday without a handmade dress.
There’s something about a little girl in a Liberty print dress that’s just timelessly adorable too, and once I got a vision in my mind of Kitty in a little pink print dress it was all too easy to give in to my longing and get out the scissors and the sewing machine.
I’d planned to make her another dress over the summer anyway after I had a little falling down in the Liberty’s sale after Britmums. This gorgeous print is the perfect colour for Kitty (pink) and for me (not too pink) and the pattern has butterflies in it which makes us both happy. Sarah’s Secret Garden in Tana Lawn, so lovely I bought two metres just to make absolutely sure that I’d be able to make a dress for my increasingly tall little girl.
The pattern itself is another Oliver + S creation, but this time I upped the ante from a one to two scissor difficulty in a feat of bravery in the face of the sewing machine and plumped for the Family Reunion Dress.
I love how Oliver + S patterns make me feel so clever; their basic instructions give you a good finish and their tips and tricks go one step further and give you something that you could quite happily wear inside out.
I’ve used French seams for the side seams again; I may possess two overlockers but I haven’t done much more than glance at them with suspicion and place their manuals in front of their many arms to ward off unintentional seam finishing, so I go old school for now. I like French seams in children’s clothes anyway, that extra row of stitching adds a resilience against daily small level life, and prevents, or at least tries to prevent, small fingers picking at stray threads.
But my piece de resistance, on the finishing front at least, was the sleeves. For starters I got them in and fitted, which is a challenge in itself, but then there were those pesky seams to be finished.
I thought about using some bias binding from the stash but my commercial bias binding seemed too different a texture from the tana lawn; too heavy, and a little bit scratchy compared to that buttery soft fabric. So in a spirit of adventure I used Colette’s tutorial to make continuous bias binding from the largest square I could cut from the leftovers, and it worked – so I used it to bind the shoulders.
There’s not a raw edge visible anywhere inside that dress – and if that doesn’t elevate it from homemade to handmade I’m not sure what will.
Kitty likes it, which even the pink and the butterflies couldn’t guarantee, and with a pair of thick cream tights to warm one half and a wooly jumper for the other it’s perfectly comfy for the autumn and winter.
The buttons for the tab are the reverse side of the buttons which I used on Elma’s Liberty dress earlier this year which seemed rather fitting, and for the back I found gorgeous deep magenta buttons; a perfect match for the pattern and, thanks to Mandy’s excellent button tutorial, now attached until judgement day.
I still need to perfect my pink tucks and my edge stitching around small corners; I had to sew that tab at least five times before I got it to something that I’m happy with, but I’ve got lots of opportunity to practice; I’ve traced out the pattern for the shirt length version In both girls’ sizes.
(and yes, she did put her shoes on herself – however did you guess!)
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