Two weeks ago I attended a dressmaking workshop with Gretchen Hirsch. Gertie made herself a dress alongside us, using the rose border print sateen that is part of her fabric collection at Spotlight…and she gave me the offcuts to make something for my girls!
I have two girls, Mathilda and Veronica. So here they are doing their very best attempt at posting like the models on the front of my vintage paper patterns:
This is a border print cotton sateen. There is a wide border along one side, and a narrow single row of roses on the opposite side, with all-over polka dots in-between. Because it is a sateen there is a bit of stretch across the grain, this meant that I really did have to think carefully about cutting out my pattern pieces to make sure that I had the stretch going in all the same direction.
The fabric that I had was a few long narrow pieces, however, as it turns out, it was just the perfect amount. Bodices for little girls don’t really use much fabric so using some carefully planned creative cutting I was able to squeeze out two dresses from the offcuts. The dresses are not exactly the same – I mixed and matched the different parts of the print to make them two individual, but coordinating dresses.
I used the Madison pattern by Violet Field Threads. I made Veronica a dress from this pattern in January. I went up a size because I was thinking that it would be good if it was a little bit big now, during winter, so that she can wear it layered over a long-sleeve tee, and then as she grows it will fit her as a dress on its own by summer – well, apparently she has already been growing, because it fits her perfectly now, with not much room for growing! I made this one in a size 5.
I have made Mathilda a VFT dress recently (but I never blogged about it), and I found that it was small and short on her, so I upsized this one to a size 9. Mathilda is nearly 8, and this fit is pretty much how I wanted it to be – she could layer it comfortably now, but its not “over-sized”.
All the little details…
I love this pattern (and every VFT pattern) because it gives so many opportunities to use a whole lot of trims, laces and other embellishments – I have quite a collection of pretties, so its good to get a chance to show them off.
The bodice fronts feature a faux button placket created with a series of pin tucks. I added some vintage cotton lace to Veronica’s dress, and some pink ric rac to Mathilda’s dress.
Mathilda’s bodice also has the optional “collar” in a contrasting print. I did cut this piece out for Veronica’s bodice as well – in the polka dots, but it just didn’t look right, so I left it off. I did end up adding buttons to Veronica’s dress only, I felt that the buttons looked silly on Mathilda’s bodice – probably because these buttons are exactly the same size as the polka dots!
There are very small cap sleeves, which are an optional feature with this pattern, but I chose to use them. I did use them in the same fabric as the bodice, rather than a contrast, and I like that look. The back of the bodices feature a key-hole cut-out, and are fastened with some pink double-sided satin ribbon.
These bodices are both fully lined, I didn’t have enough fabric to line Mathilda’s bodice, so I used some plain black batiste, which you can see in the picture above, it is slightly sheer, but so very soft – it will be lovely for her to wear. Incidentally – I completed the lining around the sleeves using the “burrito” method, which I first used when I made this pattern for the first time, and I have to say that I was mind-blown, I use that technique all the time now, and not just for bodices, but also for things like swimwear lining!
The skirts are gathered onto the bodices, it was pretty hard to gather the sateen that much – its quite structured, although it does sit well now that its finished. These skirts aren’t overly puffy, this pattern is touted as an everyday dress, so it isn’t as fabric-thirsty as some other VFT patterns, but still twirly enough for these girls.
I was able to make the skirt for Veronica’s dress out of a single width of fabric.
But I needed to piece Mathilda’s skirt together, this was where I had to get a bit creative. I used some of the wider border print (which was only partially there) and add some of the narrow border print at the lower edge.
I covered the join with some more of the pink ric rac, the faux button placket continues down through the skirts, so I tucked the ends of the ric rac underneath before stitching it down, I think it blends in quite well!
The skirts have little hip pockets:
Which were really popular with the girls.
Both the skirts have the narrow border print at the edge, I trimmed both of these with the cotton lace.
And would you believe that all I had left of that lace after finishing was a tiny scrap not even a centimetre long! Obviously it was meant to be.
Overall, a very successful project. These are two very happy little girls.
A very big thank you to Gertie, and thank you to all of you for reading!