I have realised that sewing, much like exercise, is best done while our enthusiasm is high. When Wee Bear and I spotted a photo of the Peppermint Swirl Dress by candy Castle Patterns, we were definitely both feeling enthusiastic! It’s visually stunning and looked like it could cope with the required amount of twirling at our Sunday Club Christmas party.
We only had a couple of days until the party, so I set off to our local department store on the 27th of December, not realising that all the fabric would be half price. I think I spent just as much as I would have but ended up with more fabric for summer dresses! It felt like the rest of Edinburgh was there too but I kept my head during a proper anxiety attack – nothing was going to stop me – and came home with 3 metres each of a red and green cotton print from the Rowan “Love & Joy” range. The fabric allowances are generous but I have about 75cm of each left, plus a ton of scraps big enough to make yo-yo flowers etc. Guess what I’m going to make tonight?
I’m hoping it isn’t so screamingly Christmas it can’t be worn again, but she insisted on that combination. I’ve seen lots of other examples and it looks just as pretty in more subtle combinations where the tonal values are matched but the colours are different (think pale aqua and coral!). I used the Friday evening to fit and then rapidly alter a muslin bodice. The pattern instructions are very good: if sewing for a boutique or child you can’t measure, use a regular fit but if you’ve the kid at hand, slim fit is more suitable. As it was, I had splendid help by email & Facebook chat from Rebecca, the talented designer. Together we worked out where I had gone wrong and I used my trusty Swedish Tracing Paper to make a rather stiff toile to try the next morning.
Saturday was spent taping & tracing the pattern, again onto my tracing fabric, then cutting out. I managed to cut down this time immensely by stacking up squares of fabric the right size for the upper & lower panels, then pinning carefully and cutting five at a time. There are fourteen panels made up of two pieces, minimum, in each dress so you can see why this is important! If you buy this pattern (& why wouldn’t you!) please pay close attention to the cutting instructions and lay your pieces the right way up!
After checking the bodice fit was good, I took the rest of the afternoon & evening – with tea breaks of course – to sew it up. It goes together really nicely, no nasty surprises and I liked the single fold bias hem technique, as it holds the skirt out a little without the need for a petticoat – win. I took a little longer finishing off the lining, as I chose to enclose the arm & waist seams to avoid setting off her SPD issues. It’s a matter of following the neckline instructions but just turning in the seam allowance and slip stitching it in place with the seam edges inside. The bodice and sleeves were sewn by regular machine (my trusty Janome 6500) but the skirt panels and seams were all overlocked. When joining the upper and lower panels, I simply chained all fourteen seams, carried it to the ironing board, snipped them apart and pressed in one go.
Because I was sewing so fast, I didn’t take any pictures! However, it was worth it to see her face when she woke on Sunday to see her new dress hanging on her little door handle. Since I’ve promised myself that I will be asleep by 11 for the rest of this year, I’m not sure I will do that again but I know how fast & easy it goes together, so can’t wait to make another.
Next: working out how to get really good photos of both her and my clothes!