A few weeks ago I made a hooded dress for Hannah, the daughter of a friend. Following on from that success, my friend had bought some fabric for me to make something out of. We chose the pattern number 14, from Ottobre Design 4/2013. It is called Princess Castle and is featured on the front cover. We made it with the short sleeves option.
coordinating ribbed binding
ballpoint machine needle
Sewing Machines used:
Singer Future CE-350
Brother My Star 3
Initial preparation, including pattern tracing and cutting, approx. 30 minutes.
Actual sewing time, approx 1 hour, stretched out over 3 weeks including periods of frustration, waiting and procrastination
The Fabric and Cutting Layout
The fabric was chosen by Hannah herself. Quite a bold choice for an almost-6-year-old I think. Its a lightweight 4-way stretch knit.
I started this off really well. I traced my pattern pieces.
I made up a size 122, based on the fact that Hannah is roughly the same height as my daughter, Mathilda. Although she is more petite than Mathilda is, and I think that the finished dress may be quite wide on her.
For the fabric layout, I folded the fabric off centre to fit all the pieces whilst avoiding what appears to be a water mark in the fabric – I wasn’t sure, so thought it best to avoid it in case it wasn’t something that would just wash out.
The skirt has very cute circular front pockets, I cut these out after cutting the main pieces out. The front and back are cut from the same pattern piece.
As usual, the pattern does not contain seam allowances, so I added these, with the exception of the neckline, pocket edge, and sleeve hems, as these will be bound with ribbed binding.
For the binding I chose a teal coloured rib that I already had. I think it added a nice contrast to the colours of the floral fabric, without clashing. I had wanted to get some dark brown ribbing, for use with other projects as well, but I couldn’t find any in store, so I settled on the teal. In the end, I like it.
And it matches some vintage thread that I had. I used the last of it on this project.
Preparing for construction
I also used a needle designed for lightweight knit fabrics. Singer needles are colour coded.
These are both Singer 2045 needles, ballpoint for knits, the top needle has an orange band, indicating that it is size 80/11 (for lighter-weight fabrics) and the lower needle has a blue band for size 90/14 (for medium weight fabrics). I used the top needle for this project.
I also used the special stretch straight stitch that on this machine is stitch 01.
It stitches a triple stitch, back and forth, this gives the seam the stretch that is needed to match the fabric. This isn’t as important for the side seams, but is around the neckline, pockets, and waist seams, as this is where you want the fabric to be able to stretch and move, a regular straight stitch wouldn’t move, and the thread may break. This is what it looks like:
It was shortly after I did this particular row of stitching, that it all went to bits. My Singer machine did not like sewing this fabric at all. And it did terrible things, like this:
So I needed to replace the bobbin case and needle plate, because they had burrs, and the thread was snagging underneath and looping. That took about 2 weeks for the parts to come in. But it was still doing this:
But only with this fabric, on regular woven fabric it is fine. I don’t know why it doesn’t like this fabric, but I managed to stitch the pockets in place before finally giving up and switching to using my Brother sewing machine for this dress.
The Brother My-Star 3 is about 20 years old, yet it stitched perfectly. No problems, but I had kind of lost my sewing mojo at this point, so I didn’t take any more pictures while I was sewing, however, the Brother has the same stretch straight stitch and I used that to finsh the construction of the dress.
I used my overlocker to finish all the internal seams, because even though its a knit and won’t fray, this fabric is the sort that curls at the edges, and overlocking them makes them sit flatter and therefore look neater from the outside.
The one thing that I didn’t like about this dress is the instructions had the binding applied to the sleeve hems prior to stitching the side seams. This made the underarm seam really bulky, you can see that in the picture above. I’m sure that it will sit alright when worn, but its not my favourite way to do things. If I make this dress again I think I will add a seam allowance and just hem the sleeves like I did the skirt.
I just used a zig zag stitch to do the hem, with coordinating thread – it matched the lighter beige shade in the floral pattern.
Overall, a pretty dress, I like the design, I like fabric, I hope its new owner likes it too.
Thanks for reading.