Honing your Craft
Monday March 25th 2013

Mia’s New Dress

Mia's New Dress
Mia's New Dress

Although there hasn’t been much internet available over here at The MacKay Way during the house renovation (router is 3 floors down and the signal only sporadically reaches my office), there HAS been loads of creating going on with the help of a series of extension cords (there’s still no electric as we rewire the entire house!)

The youngsters in my life have all been in need of something new and handmade and a number of my students have been asking for children’s pattern recommendations, so I decided to test a few. Of course, I can never leave well enough alone and each has been made my own.

One of the questions students ask me is how to I make my choices as they easily are overwhelmed when shopping for both patterns and fabric.

When deciding what to make someone, take into account their favorite things. What color? Style?

Recipient: Mia is recently 6 years old
Favorite Color: Purple
Style: Girly!
Possible Trim: Sparkly

Great Product!

Selection of fabric can indeed be overwhelming. I recommend to my students that you start with non-stretch cottons if you’re new to this sewing world. Please please please do pre-wash/dry the fabric as you will wash/dry the finished garment to preshrink the garment and hopefully wash out any last bit of dye that could run. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Shout color catchers and use them in every load of new fabrics/laundry with items that may run!

Make sure you take accurate measurements of the person. Kwik Sew has a great PDF to assist here (Kwik Sew Measuring & Basic Alterations).

BEWARE! I (and other teachers I know) have been finding that the McCall’s, Butterick & Vogue patterns often have an incredible amount of EXTRA ease in them. After you take the measurements, purchase the pattern in the size recommended, and if possible, it may help if sizes 1 & 2 steps down are also in that pattern.

Once you have the actual pattern, open it up and find the pattern pieces you need to make the garment you have in mind. On the actual pattern pieces there often is either a circle with a crosshatch showing where the hip and bust are and a line showing where the waste is. Near those markings there is often a simple list that contains the garments FINISHED measurements. Look at your measurements and select the size on the pattern that is closest to the measurements of the lucky person you’re sewing for! To effectively do this, you’ll need to take into account how much ease you think you’ll really need in the item. If there are no finished measurements listed on either the pattern, pattern directions or pattern envelope, you should measure the actual pattern pieces and calculate the waist/hip/bust measures as needed. When doing this, be sure to measure across at the stitching line, not at the top edge, and don’t forget to subtract the seam allowances from the finished measurement.

I find that the Ease Chart for children’s garments is similar to that of adults since children need room to move. It’s also good to leave the ease for children to be able to grow!

Ease Chart that I use for Men/Women/Children

Top/Blouse/Dress ———– 2 1/2-3″ (6.5-7.5cm)
Jacket ——————— 3-4″ (7.5-10cm)
Coat (over coats) ——– 4-5″ (10-12.5cm)

Trousers/Skirt/Dress —— 1/2 – 3/4″ (1.5-2cm)
Top/Blouse ——————– 1 – 1 1/2″ (2.5-3.8cm)
Jacket & Coat —————— 2 – 5 inches (5-7.5cm)

Trousers/Skirt/Dress — 2-3″ (5-7.5cm)


Pattern for Mia New DressPattern: Butterick Fast & Easy B4718, Style B, size 6-7-8
Size cut: 6, although I made various adjustments to the chest (down to a size 3) & hips (to a 3.5) to fit her very slim shape
Adjustments: I shortened the bodice to accommodate her size. I also left all of the extra length in the shoulder straps, which I stitched in a separate row of stitching so if they need to be lengthened that row of stitching will be easy to remove without harming the rest of the seams.
Trim: I machine appliquéd a modern print fabric in a floral motif, then hand sequined and beaded the flower.

PATTERN ERRATA: Please note that for some reason, the size chart on the directions INSIDE the envelope has the wrong HIP measurements listed. Please refer to the pattern envelope for the proper hip measurements.

Machine appliqué and hand beading/sequining trim make it special and unique!

Trimming your garment:

Be sure to plan out your trim. If machine appliquéing, do a test with some scraps to select the proper stitch width and length as well as thread color. I used a fusible interfacing on the appliqué (flower petals) to assist in a smooth application, pinned the petals in place and stitched them on one at a time.

Due to the extreme amount of stretch in this fabric I needed to use a temporary stabilizer as well to make sure the dress fabric wouldn’t stretch out of shape as I appliquéd.

During a visit with Mia recently she tried the dress on to make sure it was comfortable before i sewed down the lining. It fit her perfectly with some room to grow! She especially liked the sparkly bits and that the skirt was full enough to properly spin in.

Now to stitch on the hook and eye and  pack up the dress and ship it out to Chicago! What’s coming up next? Well, I can tell you its not for the dogs but of the dogs!

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