Veronica had her fourth birthday recently. And of course, that requires a new party dress! After consultation with Miss Veronica, who is very specific with her dress requirements we settled on this dress from Australian Smocking & Embroidery No. 81.
This pattern is called Pretty Poppet by an Australian Designer, Denis Bakes. The dress has a square yoke, smocked front bodice/skirt, sash ties, button-up fastening at the back and a tuck in the skirt.
Its been a while since I did any smocking, probably a few months or more. I did start this in about September, it just took me a while to get going on it.
I followed the smocking plate in the book (AS&E 81) fairly closely, I just simplified it quite a bit. I’m not practised at bullion roses or any other kind of fine embroidery, so I skipped all of that, and used a thicker floss to do the smocking and used novelty buttons as embellishment.
This is probably one of the neater back views of my work – this thread certainly did make for large knots though! There is backsmocking, traditional cables, for all the even rows, which falls inbetween the design on the front. I used 2 strands of DMC 6-strand embroidery thread for this, in a colour that matched the fabric.
My green cables were supposed to look like a vine, or something, I’m not really sure what I was thinking, so they are not regular or symmetrical. Veronica loves those buttons though!
And overall, I quite like this one.
The dress is trimmed with contrast piping at the neckline and armholes. I made this using about half of a fat quarter in a brighter pink colour.
And yes, that knotted mess of piping cord managed to be untangled enough to make the required amount of piping.
The bodice is lined, I trimmed the edge of the front lining with some dainty french lace. For some reason I always find that my front linings come short on smocked dresses, I’m not sure if I start my smocking too high, or if my pleater has rows that are just a smidgen further apart – I know that this can make quite a big difference. So, to compensate for that, I always add a little lace to the hem of the front lining, rather than try to work out how much extra to cut it.
Speaking of lining, this pattern used a new-to-me method of attaching the lining and sewing the sides seams at the same time – by folding the front lining over, at the time it didn’t look like it was going to work, but it did a really neat and easy job, and the linings are now secured within the side seams. I really like that, and will definitely do that again.
When I was making Mathilda her Anneliese dress earlier this month, Veronica was eyeing off the laces that I had out for that, so I knew that I needed to add plenty of pretty trimmings for her on this special dress. I used some french lace to cover the stitching where I did the hem, and some vintage swiss pink and white trim on the edege of the little tuck, and finally some white ric ran along the top of the tuck, again it hides the stitching.
A Quick note on the Fabric
This fabric is a printed cotton poplin that I’ve had forever, there are some creases in it that I think will be permanent there, because no matter that its been washed and no matter how many times I iron it, they are still there!
Veronica picked out this fabric, it has pictures of the nursery rhyme “Mary had a little lamb” on it.
And now for some modelled shots
These pictures were taken on the day of her party, initially Veronica didn’t want to have her picture taken, but with a little encouragement she agreed.
And she dutifully did the front, side, back, side poses.
You can see the pretty back here – I used some pink heart shaped buttons for the closure, and I have to tell you that this nearly didn’t happen. When I traced my pattern pieces from the master sheet I copied the markings for the buttons and button holes onto the wrong sides – because this back has one plain side (left) and one with piping (right). So I went along and did the most beautiful button holes that I had ever done…on the wrong side! Fortunately I realised this before I actually cut them, and was able to [very, very, carefully] unpick them and start again on the correct side. Fortunately, this mistake is now hidden quite well.
The dress fits her perfectly, I made up a size 3, as AS&E usually run a little big for my girls. This is just right around the neckline and armholes, and its not too long for her. She has had some epic rejections of dresses that I’ve made for her in the past (see some good protest pics here), usually because she doesn’t like things that are too big. But this one, she loves.
And soon enough the little monkey inside came out…
How could you not love this face?
The necline is not quite perfect – it is slightly wonky, and the scallops are not as well defined as they appear in the pattern book, but I am happy enough with it.
As an interesting design feature, the sash does not actually tie! There is a loop sandwiched in between the bodice and the skirt, at the centre back, where the sashes simply pass through from each side to the other. It looks like a perfect bow, but doesn’t require any fancy macrame skills!
The skirt has plenty of twirl too.
Not sewing related…
Veronica had requested a spotty-rainbow-butterfly-Elsa cake this year. ummmm…..so I ordered a small-sized (and nude!) Elsa doll from Ali Express, and made a princess cake, with a piped buttercream dress of all the colours that I had food colouring to make! I had run out of blue, and yes, this was noticed by the birthday girl and her siblings and pointed out, repeatedly! (I won’t make that mistake again, blue food colouring has now been restocked!).
It ended up looking a bit tropical, which was fine because it was a really hot day. I used some pre-made wafer butterflies, and put those on just before the party guests arrived. And where are the spots? Isn’t it supposed to be “spotty” as well? Well it is, but on the inside:
I succeeded in making a rainbow coloured, spotty cake as well. And Veronica loved it.
Thanks for reading!