Ah, sewing for children. Talk about instant gratification! I finished another little summer thing for Itsa last week. I cut it out the same evening I finished her swimsuit and then sewed it up the next night. I did battle with the ruffle on the bottom, which slowed me down, but otherwise it only took a couple hours.
The pattern is Summer Picnic Dress by Cottage Mama and the fabric is a Japanese cotton from Blackbird fabrics. I added ricrac I had on hand from thrift store sewing notion shopping. There's an MCC Thrift Shop near my house that always has sewing items in it. It makes me giddy with pleasure!
With this dress, I experimented with not reading the directions. I wanted to challenge myself to figure out the best construction sequence based on my current knowledge and experience. After, I read the Cottage Mama's tutorial and noted the differences in construction and which method I thought produced a better result.
Cutting out the pieces
Instructions: Cut four rectangles 14" x 3.5" for the straps, and 2 rectangles 4" x 22" on the fold for the ruffle.
Mandy method: I looked at my fabric and decided I wanted to cut off the selvages for 11.5" and then make my cuts using the entire width of the fabric. 2 widths 4" long and 1 at 3.5". the 3.5" cut was then sliced into four equal rectangles.
Verdict: Not a huge difference, but meant less measuring for me. Mandy method win!
Sewing the straps
Instructions: Cut one end on an angle so the straps have a cute bevel to them.
Mandy method: Cut them straight across
Verdict: I actually forgot about the angle cut here, so this wasn't intentional. I think the beveled straps look a little cuter. Instruction win!
Sewing the ruffle
Instructions: Hem the ruffle by folding under 1/2" twice and top stitching. Gather the unhemmed edge.
Mandy method: Fold the rectangle in half and pleat it before sewing to the dress.
Verdict: I think the folding definitely looks nicer, but the gathering vs. pleating is a matter of taste. I think the pleats look more modern whereas gathers would look more classic. The grey fabric I used is more of a modern print for a child, so I think pleats were the right choice. Mandy win!
Instructions: Use wonder tape to hold the trim in place, even with the bottom of your yoke piece. Adjust your seam allowance to accommodate this placement.
Mandy method: Use a seam guide to measure a 1/2" seam allowance and pin the ricrac to the bottom of the yoke piece so the stitching line goes down the middle of the trim.
Verdict: Both work... but my way allows you to keep your original seam allowance.
Sewing on straps
Instructions: Measure in 1" from the sides and pin your straps so the edge lines up with your mark. Sew in place.
Mandy method: Measure in 1/2" from the sides and pin your straps so the edge lines up with your mark. Sew in place.
Verdict: I like my placement better. I like the straps making a continuous line up from the armhole curve, instead of taking a 1/2" step in like the pattern suggests. I think it looks tidier and more professional. It also does not slip off Itsa's shoulders, so there was no functional reason I would need to move them over. Mandy Win!
Instructions: Sew facings to pieces and then sew side seams.
Mandy method: Sew side seams and then sew facings in as a circle.
Verdict: Honestly, I don't know if either makes a difference. I can't really see how it would. I simply like longer, continuous seams better. Tie!
Overall: I think the folding of the ruffle piece and the placement of the straps makes a big impact on the finished garment. You should think hard on this before you sew those seams and decide what look you're going for.
In the end, Itsa loves the dress, but will rip it off the moment her Hello Kitty dress is out of the laundry. Seems I should have just used Hello Kitty fabric and saved this sheepy wonderfulness for myself. Itsa is borderline handmade-worthy at this point. Aki loves things I make for him just because I made them for him. Itsa is more concerned with her own personal taste to care where the garment came from. Aki will be getting a Marvel superheros button up shirt in the next month.