The House of Tatterdemalion

Unfashionable, unskilled, inexpensive--but still sewing.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

At long last, the fancy dress!

The back view. Hopefully you can see all the details, like the beads on the bow, and the silver fancy top-stitching beside the zipper and at the sleeve hems. I purposely did the rolled hems on the over-skirt in a darker color, because I wanted to highlight the edges. What you hopefully can't see is the fact that I inserted extra fabric by the zipper, and that there is currently a safety-pin (hidden under her hair) cinching up the dress so it doesn't fall off her shoulders.

What gives? Aren't those to contradictory things? Why'd you add the extra fabric, just to make it so big it was falling off her shoulder?

Well, there are three theories to what went wrong the first time.

A. Since I cut the dress out when I was sick, maybe I accidentally chose the wrong (too small) size. I didn't have enough fabric to re-cut.

B. Perhaps I simply forgot that young kids grow in the space of two months, and I actually chose the right size the first time, and she just grew.

C. All of the above.

At any rate, after I got back to working on the dress after a month long hiatus, I started getting this sneaking suspicion that the dress looked too small. Checking her current measurements against the bodice, I found they matched exactly! Imagining a straight-jacket of a dress, I frantically squeezed as much extra space as possible out of the dress. I took apart everything I had already sewn together with 5/8th seam allowances, and re-sewed with 1/4 seam allowanced. The sleeves have three pleats in them, but there was originally also some easing as well. I took out that easing, and added 9/8ths of an inch more fabric at both the shoulder seams. I also added about 3/4 inch wide strips along the zipper.

At this point, I started getting bad vibes that it was probably going to be too big. I squelched those as firmly as possible, because, see reason B above. Kids grow. I want her to be able to wear this thing all summer, and even better if she could wear it next year, too. So I forced myself to make it too big. Which it was. Hence the hidden safety-pin.

The front. D'you like the butterfly insert? It's a kind of crepe-y burn-out fabric, and the threads that remain in the burn-out areas have vague coloring. This piece was overlaid on top of the same fabric as the bodice, giving more complete coloring to the butterfly and flowers. There's more silver top-stitching on the front, too. This is bobbin embroidery. I wind the thick, metallic silver thread (or should I call it fine cord?). Then I use regular thread in the needle. All top stitching is done with the right side of the fabric face down on the machine, which means you can't really see what you're doing too well. A few times I did make mistakes, and had to go back and pick out stitches, and then try to put them back in with the patterns matching.

Can you tell? I messed up the most on the front (doesn't it figure), and had to fiddle with it for a good deal longer than I would have liked.

Everyone thinks this is a "Cinderella" dress, openly stealing from Disney's animated movie. It's not. For one thing, as I told my brother "Cinderella's dress was a lot less fancy!" For the other thing, despite all appearances here, my sister just isn't a handsome-prince-come-rescue-me -Disney type of girl (she just doesn't want to trip on her skirts here, trust me). What she really is, is a give-me-a-sword-and-I'll-whack-the-monster-Tolkien type of girl!

Admittedly, she's still in training. She not yet up to fighting off Nazgul yet--heck, things that go bump in the night are still too much for her (those things are my job, apparently). Right now, she settles for whacking innocent bystanders, or else brothers. (Everyone knows that brothers are never innocent, no matter how they're standing.)

So far, she has done everything I predicted she would do with her dress. With in minutes, it was indeed muddy. She's tried to wrinkle it, but the polyester is strangely resilient to being wrinkled. And, she perfectly accessorized it with her (rather dirty, I'm afraid) chicken hat, and my pair of uber-cool sunglasses. Alas, I unfortunately do not have a picture of this stunning out-fit, because I was busy with other things at the time, such as assembling the castle cake for her.

Everyone always thinks I'm nuts for making such a fancy dress as nothing more than a child's play costume. "But it's so much work for her to ruin it by running through mud-puddles in it!" Nonsense, on all levels. It seems much sillier to me to go through all that work and then have her only wear it once (perhaps twice) to fancy occasions, and then grow out of it. What a waste!

Secondly, I made the dress for her (not me, or anyone else). Kids never care about mud-stains; it wouldn't ruin it for her. Besides which, it would make her very miserable to wear the dress and be scolded every two minutes to keep her dress clean. What's the point of giving her something that she'll be miserable wearing?

I say, I hope she gets a good long time of play out of the dress, and that it becomes a fond childhood memory for her. This, to me, would be a thousand million times more gratifying than to have it pristinely packed away, where she never even remembers she had it, and never got to properly wear it out. Yes, wear it out. That's what it's meant for, not being saved to look at later, and never used.


Blogger abigail said...

The Fancy Dress is certainly Fancy, and the little girl in me cries out for my own. (Millie, too, was sufficiently impressed with the correct amount of desire for her OWN fancy if I could/would ever make her one so stunning, ha!)

And now, off to email you!

7:17 AM  
Blogger abigail said...

EDIT: Millie, too, was sufficiently impressed AND HAD the correct amount of desire....

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Hey! That is a great looking dress. I hope it lives long life, despite any attacks by mud puddles or grass stains. Good for you.

11:42 AM  

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