Sometimes, I really need to take my own advice. This dress didn’t really turn out how I imagined it in my head, but I’m pretty happy that it eventually turned out okay and wearable. I’m calling it my Bitsa dress, after the 90’s TV show that maybe only I remember, cos the theme tune went “Bits a this, bits a that…” and that’s pretty much what’s happened here.
In my tutorial about laying out your pattern, I recommend laying out all your pieces before you cut, just to make sure you’ve got enough fabric for your project. Proper preparation and all that… well… things did not go quite as planned.
I wanted to make a variation of the lovely Junebug dress from Jess at Craftiness if Not Optional, as I really think the dress is so gorgeous for little girls, and as E didn’t like this last one, I thought I’d give it another go.
I realised that with my 3/4m, I was going to struggle to fit all my pieces on, so I switched the gathered skirt panel for the pleated skirt from another dress. I’m using the gorgeous giant spot cotton from Frumble, and to line it, Brick Path in Brown.
I got a bit scissor happy (or rotary cutter happy) and chopped out my skirt before measuring out the rest of the pattern pieces… but at least I managed to add the seam allowance this time. Here I am adding it with my trusty quilting ruler.
Whilst I was cutting, I remembered a few useful tips that I was going to put into a tutorial, namely, when you’re using a rotary cutter and you get a few threads that aren’t cut properly – don’t pull them! Gently go round and cut them with your cutter or scissors, it’s annoying, but if you pull them you’ll get horrible lines in your fabric, and that can really spoil and outfit.
Another little tip, I like to notch the centres of all the pieces of my pattern – it’s easy to do this with folded pieces, and it really helps you match them up later on. the notch is taken out of the seam allowance, so it won’t affect anything,
So, boo boo number two. I realised that if I tool the original sleeve and extended them downwards to the length I wanted, it was going to be a big piece of fabric that I hadn’t really accounted for…. instead I opted for the 3/4 length sleeve from the rainbow shirt I worked on last week. You can see from the width of the sleeve that the short Junebug sleeve is designed to have a large gather at the top, which gives lots of lovely fullness to the top of the sleeve. The one I’ve switched it for just about fit into the arm scye (arm hole) with a litle bit of gathering at the top.
I still didn’t have enough spotty fabric for the back, so I switched it for the lining fabric.
I also thought that I’d ditch the instructions and sew the front and lining together using my initiative, in a way similar to how I’ve done with a lined sleeveless dress before.
I started with sewing the front and back pieces together at the arm seams.
Then, being very careful to match up the seams, I sandwiched the main fabric and the lining fabrics together (right sides together), and sewed the neckline and arm holes.
Carefully, trim the corners and clip the curves on the seams to make sure it all lays flat, and pull the shoulder pieces through the back bodice to turn it inside out.
Press everything flat and make sure that you push out all the corners and side seams. This is a great time to use a chopstick to poke out those corners! (I think I saw someone using a palette knife to push out the side seams, perhaps it was Melly Sews?)
Ta-da! The front and back bodice are sewn together with all the seams inclosed, all that’s left to do is finish the side seams to creat the arm holes, and attach the skirt. I was feeling pretty chuffed.
It was at this point I remembered I was going to add sleeves. Boo boo number three.
Sewing the two together like this really works if you’re doing something sleeveless, but sigh not for this. So I had to unpick the arms, sew the sleeves, attach the skirt. I gave up taking pictures at this point, so here’s the finished item.
I finished it off with baby blue Kam snaps (I will add buttons to something soon, just to prove I can, I promise), and after it was all ironed and all the loose threads trimmed, well it didn’t look to bad.
Yes, the back clashes, but I kinda wanted it to clash enough that it looked like I did it on purpose, and at least it matches the fabric on the inside. I couldn’t really match the spots up because I didn’t have enough fabric, so next time I’ll try a bit harder.
I think that the Junebug looks really cute with longer sleeves, so that part of the experiment worked at least!
I think it actually turned out a little big, but hey, she’ll grow into it, and she can rock it with some jeans or tights for the autumn. Long sleeves all the way from now on!
It’s a little bit too big at the moment, especially across the shoulder where it only just reaches, so there’s a little bit of growing room! it’s in a 3T size across the bodice, as that’s what I had printed out, with 2T on the sleeves and skirt. She’s small for her age, so you just never know, and she’s at nursery on my sewing day, so hard to get her measured (also, a wriggler!).
I think she likes it though.
Seriously, what is it with this kid and glasses?!
I hope this gives you a little bit of inspiration for how to adapt patterns – whether you intended to do it or not! Trail and error is the best way to learn, after all a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor (or sewer!).