Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Birthday Dress

When I first started planning the "3 Under the Sea" party for Lydia, I decided that we would not be dressing up in mermaid costumes or anything.  I have sewn a special dress for each of her birthdays and they end up being so special to me (1st dress here, second dress here) However, I wasn't sure if I wanted something with mermaids or fish or seahorses or what.  Then I saw this women's tank top shirt at a thrift store and fell in LOVE with the pattern and the colors.  It was a little too small for me to wear so I thought I might turn it into a dress for Lydia.  Then it hit me that it was the right color and the right feel for the start to the birthday dress.
 I found a dress in Lydia's closet that I liked the shape of (the pink thing underneath the dress in progress pictured below) and used it for a pattern.  I was able to use the original arm holes (bonus because they were already trimmed with bias fabric.  This took a little figuring and maneuvering, mostly because I wanted the neckline to accommodate the crocheted trim that was on the original shirt.
 In the end, the dress bodice got a seam in the front (hidden by the trim) and an opening with buttons at the back.  The remaining fabric was trimmed into a tube (the bottom part of the shirt with the side seams still in tact) and gathered to create an high wasted skirt.  The bottom edge of the shirt was originally straight, but it had a wavy design at the bottom edge.  I decided to add some interest by cutting the bottom edge in a matching ripple wave.  I added rick rack, mostly so that I didn't have to turn under a hem on a wavy edge.  I just did a tight zig zag stitch connecting the raw edge of the fabric to the rick rack.
 The dress ended up being a little shear, so I had to add a lining, which meant worrying about where and how the skirt lining ended.  So I avoided the whole issue by making the lining short and attaching a ruffle of a coordinating fabric.  I LOVED that green polka dot fabric.  It was part of Lydia's first birthday dress and it was the lining to her first winter coat.  I used my last decent sized scraps on the trim for this dress and I am kind of sad to see it go!
It ended up being easier to plan the construction of the dress so that the crocheted trim was not structural. That meant I had to do something to stitch it on and that usually means trying to match tread colors so that they are hidden. Rather than agonize over finding the perfect color of thread, I went in the opposite direction and sewed it on with contrasting thread, creating a little more accent in the neckline. I worked the thread into the edges of the trim and every so often I just went all the way through the fabric so the decorative stitches also held the thing in place. I am so very happy with how it turned out and SO thankful that I was down to hand sewing at the point that we lost power for the four days prior to the party.

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