Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sewing: Plaid Christmas Dresses

When I was in highschool I bought this great black plaid fabric with red, green, white and yellow stripes and made myself a dress. It had an empire waist, a scooped neck, a long gathered skirt and buttons down the back, and I loved it. But just a few years later I of course thought it passe and was ready to get rid of it. My mother took the dress and took off the skirt and began using it for a Christmas tablecloth. These many years later I found the plaid  fabric among her Christmas things and decided it was the perfect thing for the girls' Christmas dresses. It's made quite a fun trip to end up hanging on them this Christmas season!

I barely had enough fabric to make these two dresses work! I laid out the pattern pieces one time and thought it was good but then realized I hadn't matched the plaids. Laying it out to cut was a bit of a nail-biter. It took more time than you would think to try it a number of different ways until I got it to work. So it goes with this size of a repeat I guess. Luckily the weave on the fabric is completely reversible and the plaid can be oriented in either direction. Otherwise it wouldn't have worked. Haven't tried all this plaid matching before. The result is great but I'll certainly buy a lot of extra fabric next time I am smitten with plaid.

I saw a vintage pattern I wanted to use for Audrey's dress but it was sold out. It was a full-skirted jumper with a fitted bodice and square neck. Pretty simple and seemingly easy to duplicate. I found this pattern (McCall's 6020) and thought "close enough." I love that it is fully  lined and has a square neck in front. I dropped the waistband it includes on the front bodice and opted for a buttoned back (covered buttons of course!)

But, sadly there is a "but," I forgot about my original inspriation for this dress as I got into it. I was sewing it under self-imposed deadline--trying to get these ready for them to wear for pictures for our Christmas card--and only when Audrey was wearing it this past Sunday did I realize I'd veered and didn't like the result as much as the initial idea. So what to do? This dress is pretty straight, and to make matters worse, I made it a size larger than Audrey's because the photos on the pattern made it look more fitted and I wanted to be sure there was room for a blouse underneath. She still looks pretty cute in it...

...but it's not as cute as I'd like. So now, deadline past, but Christmas still approaching I'm wondering if it would be worth the effort to either: 1. rip some things apart and take in the side seams on the bodice (this would disturb the plaid the least but involves bodice lining, bodice and skirt, which will need to be re-gathered, sewn, etc....), or 2. rip some more things apart and add two darts in the front and back of the bodice (which would change the look of the plaid on the bodice, obviously, but might be a nicer fit, lots of ripping and reseaming however...the skirt might as well come all the way off...), or 3. go buy some very wide black satin ribbon and see how it looks if I sew it to the side seams to make a sash in the back?

Audrey certainly won't know the difference, and you can't see much of the dress in the photos anyway.... But I would sure love the dress so much more if it were a bit fit-and-flare. Wish I'd thought to make the back of the bodice with a square neck too, but nothing to do about that now. So maybe I'll see how I'm feeling about taking in the bodice in a day or two. Makes me want to hunt again for that vintage pattern!

Scarlett's dress on the other hand is perfectly darling (in my opinion)! I love this simple a-line jumper. Also fully lined. Also with covered buttons. It's such a cute shape on her. I have used this pattern (Simplicity 3662)  before, in a dusty rose colored corduroy for Audrey to wear under a sweater I knit for her, and I'm thinking I should use it some more.

Scarlett and Audrey are wearing matching black knit Olive Juice blouses under these jumpers, which saved me some time. Also time-saving is the use of Scarlett's first Christmas dress for Tess. I thought it would be fun for Tess to add some punch to the picture with a bit of red. Still love that corduroy dress. This is not the picture we are using for the card (since it appears Tess is toppling out of view) but it's one of the better ones we got. Such a stress trying to get a picture with all three looking as close as possible to their darling selves, and before one or all have a meltdown!

If you want to view the last few years of Christmas outfits here they are:


Carey C. Bailey said...

How wonderful! With Joy, Carey

Sharon said...

Very beautiful! I would leave the dress as is, it looks wonderful! I think we are always more critical of our own work.

Unknown said...

Awwwww, adorable!! I would definitely opt. for the sash - it might change the look, but will certainly help the fit. I've been amazed what a sash can do!

Love the plaid :-)


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