Gathering Threads

Sweet Swiss Dot for Spring

Posted by on Apr 13 2011, in Sewing for Children

Despite being swamped by end of term marking, I’ve been taking regular breaks in the sewing room.   I find the change keeps me fresh (and sane!) and I’ve made some adorable spring and summer outfits for my niece.

None too fancy, mind, and mostly separates since that’s when she’s at her most comfortable.   A few more buttonholes and one more quick bishop and I’ll call it a season.  In the meantime, this is one of the tops I made out of the most wonderful, buttersoft swiss dot.

I fell in love with the whole idea of this top the moment I saw it last month.  It was designed by my friend Laura; it’s her “Little Bird” e-pattern.  Her little girl, Ellie, is adorable and knew I had to make my own version when I saw her wearing it in this photo.

Just get a spoon and eat her like ice-cream, why doncha?

My swiss dot is the softest pink and the hand is indescribable.  It’s stash – remainders from a bishop I am (glacially) smocking and it was nice to see *something* actually made with it, since it’s such lovely fabric.  It’s hard to find the real stuff.  I found this last summer, completely by accident, while I was hunting for another fabric entirely.  It was crammed on the bottom of a jam packed rack of fabrics, dusty and shopworn, but I could tell just by looking at it it was *quality*.  A little haggling later (I love independent fabric stores for just that reason) and it came home with me for a song.  It washed up perfectly and looked just like new, which isn’t surprising given how beautifully it was made.  Yeah for a bargain!

The front and back feature a row of release tucks.  I did three on each side at the front and then seven centred across the back below the yoke.

This was actually the fussiest part of the whole top, since I like my pleats evenly spaced and neatly tied off with knots on the wrong side.  It would have been much faster if I’d simply gathered the lower portions and fitted them to the yoke, which was an option Laura offered, but I wanted those tucks, so the fiddling was the trade-off to get them.  Each tuck is exactly 3/8″ wide (3/4″ total take-up) and 2 3/4″ long.  Because the yokes are curved, my tucks fan out, too.  They’re spaced 1/8″ apart at the top, and 1/4″ at the bottom.  The one right at the centre of the back is technically a released box pleat and not a tuck but that’s only because I didn’t want to muck up the symmetry of the tucks by having 4 pointing one way and three the other.  I’m a bit anal that way 🙂

Really, I’m going to have to gut my sewing room at some point.  In its previous life, it was a large walk-in linen closet (yes, I sew in a closet – but it’s MY closet.  Makes all the difference!) and when the shelves were removed by the previous owners, it left large gaping holes in the not-quite-drywall-some-sort-of-cheap-1930s-pressboard-alternative.   They’re everywhere and they’re impossible to avoid when I take pictures.  Not attractive :(.  Maybe this summer, me and the putty knife can become one.

But home renos aside, I made the sleeveless version, with the small ruffle.  I could have simply done a single layer ruffle, edging it with a narrow rolled hem, but the fabric is so soft, that I didn’t think it would have the body it needed to stay aloft on its own.

Instead, I self-faced the ruffle which saved me from hemming the outer edge and gave it more body all in one fell swoop.

And here’s the hem.  I love this shot.  I’m not a whiz-bang photographer.  I go for clear, well lit and functional rather than gorgeously artistic like some blogs with hosts more talented in that department than I.   But there’s something so sweet about this picture, I think.  The tiny rolled hem, the back-lit texture of the fabric, the out of focus mannequin.  It just makes me happy.

Finally, I decided against doing a drawstring casing.  I like the soft, unstructured look the top has without it and I hope my Ellie looks as adorable in hers as Laura’s Ellie does!


  • *GASP!* Oh, Claire, it’s FANTASTIC! I love the tucks on the back and I really like it without the casing too! Oh, I’m so happy you shared the pictures. You totally made my day!

  • chris

    the placket on the front is a back placket and is very disconcerting at CF

  • Claire

    Hi Chris – that’s interesting. I’ve always done plackets the same, front or back. How do you do them differently?