Flowers, Showers and Smocking
Posted by Claire on May 28 2014, in Sewing for Children, Smocking
And now for something completely different!
I don’t want you to think that I only like or smock ‘fancy’ dresses like my recent wool and lace confection. In fact, most of the children’s clothes I sew are destined for everyday wear – I make play shorts and sweat pants for the boys, sundresses and easy to wear outfits for my nieces. I still care about fit and style but I don’t fuss about interior finishes and choose my construction methods for durability and speed.
Here’s an example of that: a picture smocked dress for my niece, Ellie, that combines my friend Janet Gilbert’s adorable plate, Rainy Days, with a vintage Pattorama dress from the 1950s. As is typical when sewing with a vintage pattern, I added 3/4″ to lower the waistline and 3 inches to the hem length.
This is a dress for school and the park and playing outside. It’s cotton and it’s designed to be wash and wear. Everything was done on machine, from the hem to the piping. The inside seams are overcast with zigzag and the neck is bound with bias tape.
I’ve had the pattern in my collection for a couple of years and when I saw Janet’s plate, I knew right away that they would work perfectly together. I like the arched insert; it makes a nice change from straight as an arrow inserts. I used my freezer paper technique to cut and secure the smocked insert before I applied the piping. I think the dark blue sets it off really nicely.
The raindrop fabric is the last piece of the puzzle. It’s Timeless Treasures Raindrop and I couldn’t have found a more perfect fabric. It’s bright and modern and balances well against the very classic style of the dress.
I made a few tweaks to Janet’s plate – I changed up the floss colours so they would match my fabric. I also went with cast on flowers instead of lazy daisy. I also added ‘grass’ . It’s just irregular single feather stitch, using two strands of green floss on top of a row of cable, but it adds a nice movement, I think. But otherwise, it’s her design and I’m so pleased with how it turned out. She does such nice designs.
On one of my sewing forums, there was a discussion recently about the ubiquitousness of people selling patterns riddled with poor drafting, especially collars. People were sharing their frustrations and their horror stories. I definitely agree. The difference is night and day between a badly drafted collar and a good one. Look at the fit and the smooth shape of this collar. It meets front and back and lies so nicely around the neck. This is how a collar is supposed to fit!
The back of the dress is closed with four dark blue buttons. These are vintage buttons, from my collection. They suit the dress to a tee and they match the dark blue contrast fabric exactly. You’d think I’d planned it but it was just a happy coincidence.
So there you have it, a play dress that combines modern fabrics and smocking with a vintage pattern. I think it’s a success. My marching orders were “lots of colour, with flowers”. Hopefully this meets the bill!