Grade 6 Graduation Dress

Tomorrow is Clare’s last day of Primary School.  Seven years – where did that go!  Last night was their Graduation Ceremony.  The kids met at school at 5pm then walked to the local Italian Club (where they have spent many cultural and sports days over their time at primary school) and had dinner with the teachers and support staff.  By 7pm they were back at school, as were many of their families and friends, for the formal part of the evening.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

The children all looked wonderful – almost all of them dressed up, including the boys. They each gave a speech about their time at school, sharing memories and thankyous. Each received a certificate and their school report, then they all sang a song together and presented five short plays before the principal spoke to conclude the evening.  Clare received a special certificate that especially commemorated her “Love of Learning” – she was thrilled.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

It was a special celebration – but I didn’t cry! The kids are so ready for high school, and it was very touching to hear their appreciation of their time at primary school but also their anticipation as they stride into the future.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

And unsurprisingly, there was a fair bit of focus on the graduation dress leading up to the event! Clare and I decided on the Figgy’s Scirocco dress some time ago, and when I spotted this floral Alannah Hill silk at Clear It one day I knew it was a perfect match.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

Choosing appropriate styles for Clare can be a real challenge. She is almost twelve years old now, but is still very tiny as compared to her peers and hasn’t yet hit puberty. Some of us are late starters! She wants to look pretty and age-appropriate despite her stature, and I really think that this dress hit that sweet spot exactly. The pattern was size 8/9. After trying it on we added an extra flounce to the bottom. It is still above the knee, but not absurdly short. This was easy to do – I just cut another of the lower flounce and attachment pieces. The back twist was a bigger problem.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

I had noticed in images online that the fit around the back can be difficult. We drew up the back elastic quite a lot to make the skirt fit at the waist, and then I unpicked the already sewn centre twist, folded the narrow ends of the triangle in another inch each, retwisted, then hand-stitched them together again. This made the back about two inches narrower than drafted, and it then sat nicely. The bodice is fully self lined, and I didn’t make a muslin first, but the alterations were just as easy to do after the fact. It also eliminated the bagging of the back where it joins the skirt waistline that I had seen in lots of photos.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk

We found the narrow lace for the front trim in my stash. Clare spent many hours on YouTube learning how to do her hair, and did the fancy braid herself. Impressive! I suspect that there may have even been a light application of eyeshadow and lip gloss. Stella found the china rose earrings in a drawer on the weekend and they matched the outfit perfectly. I think that I bought them at Royal Doulton when I was in England 25 years ago.

Grade 6 Graduation dress - Figgys Scirocco in Alannah Hill floral silk
Congratulations to my special big girl as you move on to the next exciting chapter in the book of your life. We are incredibly proud of you, and love you more than we could possibly say. It is such a pleasure to watch you growing up into such a wonderful young woman.

mother and daughter - grade 6 graduation
(And now that I type this, the tears are flowing after all!)

Soleil for Stella

Before I start detailing garments I made at Sewjourn in December, I’d better finish blogging the ones I made at Sewjourn in November!

Selvage Designs Soleil dress

The pattern is the Soleil dress by Selvage Designs. It is designed for knits, utilising rib knit trim around the edges of the pocket, armholes, and neck and back openings. I really love the back opening detail (although it’s not terribly sun smart – but the pattern does include a full back option).

Selvage Designs Soleil dress

I think that I made this as size 6T – which falls between size 5T and size 6. Weird sizing descriptions! It fits her rather well, actually. The instructions were quite good, and the overall style is very pretty. I shared the construction between the overlocker and the sewing machine.

Selvage Designs Soleil dress

I bought the fabric at Super Cheap Fabrics in Sydney Road, Brunswick. It’s a jacquard – the colours and pattern are knitted into the fabric, and the cream lines are all raised. I also bought the neutral beige colourway. Now I wish that I’d bought more of both. It was great to use and has washed really well.

Selvage Designs Soleil dress

I haven’t used rib knit for edges for a long time. It’s SO easy to use! You do need to remember to stretch it much more than if you were using self-fabric bindings, but the nature of the knit allows for that. It was fortunate that this cream rib knit was already in my stash. I’d looked for other matching (or even dramatically contrasting) rib knit trim without success before returning to the depths of stash to find this one.

Selvage Designs Soleil dress

Stella calls this her “happy dress” – what more could I ask for!

Oliver + S Badminton dress

I made this Oliver + S Badminton dress for Stella ages ago.  AGES ago!  At the very beginning of the year, I think!  I made it according to her specifications – then she refused to wear it.  Until last weekend, that is!

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Ah, so fickle! The fabric is a lovely border printed cotton voile, that I think came from Darn Cheap ages ago. It’s such a long time since I made it that I have no idea what size it is, although I suspect I used size 6. Are you wondering what made her finally decide to wear it? Well, it was the opportunity to match her big sister.  Clare’s dress is blogged here.

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Clare rolled her eyes when Stella came down the stairs wearing her dress, but was very gracious in not objecting. I don’t think that she’ll put up with matchy matchy for much longer, however! The Badminton dress is a lovely style, with the usual complement of little Oliver + S details that make their patterns that bit more special. The scalloped hemline, the ribbon casing that gathers the centre front, and the little ruffles on the straps really do make this a pretty frock.

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The armholes are bound with bias made from the same fabric, and the dress is gathered into the neck bands both at the front and at the back. The relaxed style makes it very comfortable to wear, and cool for hot days.

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Now let’s hope that she’ll wear it more often before it gets too short!

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

Despite the plethora of dresses already hanging in her wardrobe, when Stella asks me to make her something I find it really difficult to say no.  She especially wanted a new dress that could have a sparkly transfer ironed on to it.  Of course she did!

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

Stella is quite definite about her likes and dislikes, and chose the fabrics and how to combine them herself. First of all we looked at some of the dresses already in her wardrobe and identified some favourites, and what it is that makes them preferred over other garments. Stella definitely prefers knits, with full or swingy skirts, that are easy for her to get on and off. So, that’s basically a t-shirt dress, albeit with volume in the skirt. We then spent time going through the pattern box to decide on what she thought would be suitable.

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

This one came in the girls Pattern Parcel that I bought a couple of months back.  It is the Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress.  From the website: The Playhouse Dress is the perfect dress for playtime or dress-up time! In sizes 12 months to 12, this dress can be sewn with all knits or with a combination of knits and woven quilting fabrics. The Playhouse Dress features a knit bodice, a circle skirt and puff sleeves which can be sewn short or long.  As you can see, we chose the short sleeved version, and printed and cut out the size 6 for Stella.  The pdf allows you to just print one size rather than multi-sized if you prefer, which is quite handy. And the skirt is very flared, but I’m not sure that i would describe it as a circle skirt – it’s definitely at least a half-circle though, so is certainly swishy.

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

I applied the neckband using the handy tip on Gillian’s blog that helps to estimate how long to make it. I discovered this recently and it’s definitely helped my hit rate for applying knit neckbands in the round (often I do them before sewing closed the second shoulder, and I’m pretty familiar with just how much to stretch to get it right when applying them that way). I like the way that it accommodates the more extreme curve that is found in the front of the neckband, that simple quartering never seems to allow for.

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

Otherwise there’s not a great deal to say about this make. I used the overlocker throughout, with twin needle stitching on the yoke to secure the neckband and the curved empire seam. I also twin needled the hemline after securing it with a non-Vliesofix tape that is such a thick layer of glue that I can’t wait to use it all up. It took quite a bit of stretching of the sleeve bands to get them to fit, but the pattern was designed that way so that it gathers at the bottom, and the instructions do let you know that will be the case. It all worked out fine. And the final touch, which was the most important part of the whole design as far as Stella was concerned? Yes, it’s that sparkly iron-on transfer, picked up from Clear It a little while ago! She is very pleased.

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

Both fabrics were in stash, and are cotton/spandex blends. I have to admit that I didn’t like them together all that much when Stella first chose them, but now that the dress is made I think that the final proportions of each colour – and the fine white stripe in the blue knit – work very well! She’s chosen a colour combination that isn’t too cliched.

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

based on Simplicity 1479

Spotlight are selling Simplicity patterns at 5 for $10 at the moment.  Unheard of!  Of course, most of the ones that I was interested in getting for me weren’t in stock at my local Spotty (might need to get my Mum on the case to see if they are at hers) but there were a few in the drawers that I thought Clare would like.  Simplicity 1479 was one of them.

based on Simplicity 1479 view B

I titled this blog post “based on” Simplicity 1479 because although I used four of the pattern pieces from view B I didn’t make the dress according to the instructions. I am quite sure though that I’ll use this pattern again – there are some lovely design options.

based on Simplicity 1479 view B

The bright coral (almost fluoro) stretch mesh came from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table. Clare wanted a very simple dress, so we decided to just make a shift and line it with a contrast. We tried a few different fabrics in a few different colours underneath before settling on this vibrant blue viscose. Clare love the feeling of rayons and viscose next to her skin, and was very happy with her choice.

based on Simplicity 1479 view B

I used the provided pattern pieces to cut the underdress/lining pieces from the rayon, and the overdress pattern pieces from the mesh. I cut size 8 through the body with size 10 length, and lengthened the mesh overdress pieces so that they would be longer than the underdress/lining. I stuffed the neckline facing pieces back into the pattern envelope, as I’d already decided how I would construct the dress and it wasn’t going to include facings. In summary, I did this:

  • sewed the shoulder seams of the overdress and underdress
  • sewed the necklines of both dresses together with the right sides facing one another
  • understitched and trimmed the neckline then turned it right sides out
  • used the burrito method to join one armhole underdress to the overdress by rolling the dress up from the opposite side until I could make the underdress and overdress armholes meet right sides together
  • stitched and trimmed the armhole and turned it right sides out
  • repeated with the opposite armhole
  • then sewed up the side seams with each side having a long seam with overdress right sides together, pivoting at the underarm then sewing the underdress right sides together
  • and hemmed the underdress, leaving the overdress with a raw edge that was longer than the underdress.

Phew! Clear as mud? I really like this method of sewing lined sleeveless tops and dresses – it gives such a nice clean finish with no fiddly sewing together of shoulder seams as the last step.

based on Simplicity 1479 view B

It’s a very simple dress, but the fabric combination makes it that little bit special to wear. Clare was happy! By the way, did you notice her doll, Rosie? Clare sewed Rosie’s dress from a Burda pattern, and made the coordinating headband and shoes from loom bands.

Burda doll dress sewn by Clare with loom band shoes and headband

She did prefer to have me give her step by step guidance on what to do rather than taking her time to read the Burda instructions. Not sure if that is a reflection on Burda, or simply the result of having me available to ask! Anyway, she did all the cutting and sewing herself, and I am rather proud of my not-yet-twelve-year-old. Now I just need to persuade her to sew her own dresses.

based on Simplicity 1479 view B

And thanks everyone for your comments on the Celestial dress – as you know, I love it, but it’s rather cool that you do too!

Oliver + S Library dress

I suspect that I now own almost all the Oliver + S patterns.  Oh my!  Well, there are possibly a few missing from the collection, but I certainly have purchased plenty of them.  My latest make is the Library Dress.

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

These are such reliable patterns. They are always beautifully drafted and finished, and the instructions are excellent. This one was no exception. Clare chose to have it made with short sleeves and no collar. I added flat piping made from bias strips of chambray to highlight the edges of the neckline, sleeves and the front band.

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

There was impetus to get this finished – Clare was going to a Japanese themed birthday party. We thought that a dress that looked Japanese inspired would be better than a costume as such, and this fitted the bill nicely. The fabric is cotton/linen from Spotlight, and the selvedge describes the print as being of a Polish folk design. Not terribly Japanese at all!

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

This was lovely to sew. I think I used size 10, and as you can see it is quite roomy in width. She did need the length of the 10 though. The contrasting buttons down the back please me greatly.

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

The pattern description says: This sweet, little mock-wrap dress includes a wide front waistband with optional piping, a pleated skirt, and buttons up the back. It can be sewn in two different versions: a short-sleeve dress with a collar or a three-quarter-sleeve dress with notched cuffs.

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

This is a style that works well on tweens. It’s not too “little-girl” frilly, yet has nice swing to the skirt and feminine details. Nowadays I always choose to buy my Oliver + S patterns in pdf, so that I can easily reprint different sizes as required. While I mention pdf patterns, I have to say that Oliver + S are my favourite ones. Each pattern piece prints separately. Pieces that are small enough to fit on one page are on one page, and those that need to be assembled are still on as small an amount of paper as possible. I love just assembling one piece of the pattern at a time – highly preferable than trying to align and tape a massive sheet that won’t even fit on the table.

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

I have a few more Oliver + S patterns in the works for this summer, especially since Clare has grown a little and needs some new dresses. And I get to pass the other Oliver + S ones that she has outgrown down to Stella, and enjoy seeing them all over again! Win win!

Another Asymmetrical Drape Top

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As the title says, another Asymmetrical Drape Top for Clare. This is from the rest of the laser cut floral printed neoprene (say that ten times quickly) from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It’s size 8, the same as the previous two tops. Because of the nature of the fabric I left off the neck band and just turned the neckline to the inside once and topstitched it down. Seams were all sewn on the overlocker, and topstitching was with a zig zag stitch on the sewing machine.

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The fabric choice has given it a different look to the last two tops, as it doesn’t have the same sort of drape. Clare has also turned the hem band underneath to shorten it a little, as she finds that in this fabric the whole top tends to want to migrate down further and almost become a dress, whereas the other tops have the band sit more firmly on the hips and the extra side fabric just drops into the folds rather than attempting to straighten themselves out.

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That said, she really likes this top – the neoprene and floral combination ticks all the correct boxes for her and negate any issues with it “growing”. In fact, she wore it rock/wall climbing! It’s another interesting example of how different the same pattern can look and behave in different fabric substrates (let alone different prints or colours).

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