Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I'm not just a Quilter

Long before I ever quilted anything, my mother taught me to sew. And to embroider and eventually to cross stitch and do needle point. I remember learning basic sewing in about the 1st or 2nd grade. It was not until I was 21 that I ever attempted my first quilt. This may be surprising since much of what I post here is quilt related. Eight years ago when I was expecting my first (a son) and my sister-in-law was expecting my neice, I taught myself to smock. I shirred the fabric by hand. It took hours just to do that. I had to select checked fabrics because of the natural marking, which made the shirring by hand possible. Now I can say that with 10 more dresses under my belt, I am quite proficient at making smocked dresses.
This is my daughter on the day of her 3rd birthday party. She's the ultimate "frilly dress" girl if there ever was one. I made this dress from Michael Miller's petite Autumn Flower Fairies material. It's just gorgeous - much different than a picture can show, having a luscious gold veining throughout. I now have a friend of mine's smock pleater to do the shirring (it's on semi-permanent loan), so I am not limitted by striped or checked fabrics, which make the shirring much simpler if doing by hand. I can pleat the bodice in a matter of 20 minutes, not 6 hours!
I stumbled into the "Coin" colored Fairy Frost too, which is a lovely complement for the fairy fabric since it shimmers too.
("Mama, are you done yet or do I still have to smile???")
...pretending to be on the phone while she awaits the arrival of her party guests
As a surprise, I actually made three of these dresses. One is for Sophie, and the other two for her cousins, ages 5 and 7. They have birthdays this fall, and happened to be in the US for her birthday party (normally live in Italy). My oldest neice totally loves fairies so it was an instant hit. The other prefers animals so it may have missed the mark with her, but her mother likes it :-) Unfortunately I still have the dress because the nearly 8 year old is a tad larger than I was led to believe. I need to take the sleeve openings out a little. It's a much larger take out job than it is a "fix" job. Just so long as it fits her is all I care since I know she won't wear it otherwise.
Rather than doing a traditional collar, which requires pressing, and often gets stained, I chose a simple ruffle. I love the way this turned out up by the girls's faces.
The smocking is rather simple...just a waffle smocking all over in varying coordinating colors, and three bullion roses. It looked just right against the busyness of the fairy fabric.

And another twist, no bow in the back! I am learning that the older girls don't like to lean against the pretty bows. My Sophie does not care, but the older girls do. So I chose a very simple elegant look with two buttons. There are no button holes - it is just stitched down. The buttons are bronze shell, and have a nice irridescence like the coin fairy frost.
And as if a fancy dress wasn't enough, I also whipped up two little bags as well (with little coordinating change purses inside).
My younger neice was not so anxious to try her's on (which did actually fiv exceptionally), but the older one did happily. She's the one that loves pretty dresses and fairies. An instant hit. Now it's time to think ahead to Christmas (sigh!), and contemplate what I might do for the more animalistic of the two...Seems I owe her another outfit more to her personal liking.


Vicki W said...

So, so cute!

Anonymous said...

I love that fabric, and the purse is wonderful!!! Sophie is so cute! I think a dress in some of the figgy pudding would be great, and maybe a purse (you can sent the purse here):-)))!

Wendy said...

Your smocking is beautiful, and your daughter is adorable in her birthday dress! I also love sewing for my daughter, but never took the smocking plunge. Now that she's 9, I probably missed that boat, but perhaps I could teach her to do it with me.

stitchin' girl said...

Those dresses are fabulous!!! You are quite the dressmaker!