Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Birthday Gift - Girl's Dress with Princess Seams

(Aka: How to sew a Communion dress part 1 - The Muslin)
My niece (also my goddaughter) turned 9 recently, and as usual my gift is a dress. Most dresses I made for her over the last few years have lots of ruffles, or are in brighter colours, so I toned it down dramatically this year as she tends not to like too many flowers or frills - oops, oops & ahem oops!!
The major reason this dress is different from others that I made her, is because it's a practice run for her Communion dress.
She is making her First Holy Communion next month and I offered to make her dress - very exciting, if more than a bit nerve-wracking!
We picked a style by going specialist shops and she was very specific about what she wanted - fairly fitted, not fussy, with a wide a-line type skirt. The style she most liked had a chiffon outer layer, underlined with satin and then lined, with a diagonal sash on the bodice (and costing €230!)
Fabric was bought at Hickeys Cork (costing approx €50), but not a pattern, as I already had Vogue 7845 - the exact style she wanted.
The next major step was a muslin which I usually try to avoid, so that's why I made her this style of birthday dress.
As I prepared the pattern, I noted the sizes on the pattern are 7-8-10, which is just the age before puberty for most girls. Vogue, however, seem to know something that I don't and when I compared the bodice pieces, I found they were shaped to give extra room at the bust - see the pattern pieces on the right above.
My newly found pattern drafting skills do not yet extend to drafting princess seams, so luckily the summer 2012 edition of Young Image magazine came to the rescue! I copied the Princess seams from Y1204, redrafted the neckline and used the skirt shape from the Vogue pattern and finally got to sew the birthday/practice dress.

The Communion dress will be lined, so I also lined this dress. Sewing the princess seams was interesting, and the first time I've tried it. I found that sewing from the end of the skirt, right up to the top made it easier to sew the curved seams at the bodice (There are some great tips in Simon Henry's book Little Best Dress on sewing curved seams)


All the seams are hidden, and there's an invisible zip, which is actually not that invisible! The Vogue pattern has a curved centre-back seam, which made matching the dots more difficult.










As usual I couldn't resist adding a trim somewhere. I had almost decided to add ribbon to highlight the princess seams, but I went for simplicity this time and just used a ribbon from Farbenmix on the hem.

What is a pretty dress without an accessory?! The heart-shaped bag is a from a Japanese Pattern Book.

My niece was delighted with her dress, and she wore it for the one warm spring day we had recently! The feedback on the sizing was that the bodice and neckline are perfect, but the waist is about 2cm above her waist - an easy fix!

This week I am planning on making a lot of progress on the dress .....


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  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Sally, she's generally very particular about what she wears, but loves anything I make!

  2. Cute dress! And the matching heart purse is adorable. I am sure that your niece is delighted.

    1. Karin, thank you :-) I kept the dress so simple, that I had to sew something special for the purse!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Olga, the purse was my favourite part too, and easy to sew!

  4. The dress is cute and perfect for spring! Can't wait to see the Communion dress.;)

    1. Thanks Cindy :-) Still lots to do with the Communion dress, but it's getting there, and is fitting well!