This year for Christmas I got the idea to make all of the little girls in the family (cousins on both sides – that’s 5 all together) coordinating dresses. Aren’t they ridiculously adorable? (one is not pictured if you’re wondering whether or not I know how to count)
I called this post “coordinating cousin dresses” but another title could very well have been “the dresses that almost weren’t” or “how to pull an all nighter the day before flying”. I don’t know why but this is always (always) the schedule when thinking up Christmas presents – about a month before I get an idea for what I might like to make. I spend a few days thinking about the idea and deciding if I do really want to make it. Next I move into research mode – googling like a crazy person looking for patterns, blog posts, ideas and inspiration. Even if it’s an idea that I’m sure I have dreamed up on my own, I still google to see if anyone else has done it (and how). This phase is the longest. I can easily waste away several weeks on blog surfing, pinning and thinking. I spend SO much time in fact that I wake up one day and realize that it’s one week before Christmas and I have done absolutely nothing. Next comes my frantic trip to the fabric store where I wander aimlessly and make a total wild guess as to how much fabric (or yarn, or other supplies as the case may be) I will need to complete the project. Because (of course) during my “planning weeks” all I really did was mindlessly click links and not actually make any decisions, so I haven’t *really* decided what exactly I’m making or how much material it will take. The rest of the week is spent frantically crafting and hoping and crossing everything that I don’t run out at the end (because obviously the last sewing is being done at 2am when more fabric cannot be acquired). Thank goodness that this one came together at the end, I would have hated to show up to our family Christmas empty handed.
The best part of this whole giant sewing bonanza is that all of the girls actually really liked their dresses (hooray!!). I think the fact that they’re cotton and roomy makes them super comfy (I didn’t get to try one on… obviously… but they look pretty cozy to me). Amelia has been wearing hers often, pretty much as soon as I wash and hang it up in her closet she puts it back on. That kind of reaction is definitely what I’m looking for when I start sewing and it’s what keeps me coming back for more.
Amelia’s and Edith’s dresses were the first two that I tackled and both of them followed online tutorials that I found – Amelia’s is the adorable Leah tunic from Craftiness is not Optional and Edith’s is the Black Bird tunic from Schwin and Schwin lengthened to make a dress.
Both of the tutorials were relatively straightforward and easy to follow, I loved that the Black Bird tunic had a printable pattern, when you’re in a hurry sometimes it’s nice to just be able to follow cutting lines rather than drafting your own pattern. If I were making it again I would probably make a few changes to the construction – somehow having the raw top edge of the skirt piece encased in the neck would be nice and I would also probably add a little facing to the armholes only because I think it looks a bit cleaner. Both of those probably would have added time to the project (which I didn’t have) and the dress as is worked well so I’m happy with how it turned out. Edith especially loves her pocket!
The Leah tunic isn’t a pattern but rather a tutorial on how to draft your own pattern and construct the dress from the pieces you’ve drafted. I will say that I totally (100%, I should have taken a picture of how terrible it was) botched the sleeve shape on the first go-around. Luckily I was able to save it, but it was a bit trickier than I’d imagined. Amelia loves (LOVES) this dress and I do too, it reminds me of one of the dresses that the little girls in the cozy book might wear, and I want to make her a hundred more of them. I will say that I am not a huge fan of bias binding the armholes, I’m just not very good at it and I think my dresses look cleaner when they are lined (at least on the bodice) so I might try that next time and see how it turns out. I know that it’s a cooler dress if it’s unlined (better for summer) but with my wobbly sewing I feel like the bias tape gives away the fact that I am not an expert seamstress.
Once I got done with the first two dresses I realized that I really didn’t have time to mess around finding and following more patterns, as cute as they may be, so the last ones were just simple lined bodices with a split back and button closure, with pleated full skirts. No pattern, just tracing of t-shirts in the correct sizes and a big rectangle for the skirt. Not having a 15 month old to model for me, I definitely underestimated the length of the littlest dress (it’s much more of a tunic) but aside from that slip-up I think they turned out just as well as I could have hoped for. And all done in time to open for Christmas. Hooray! I consider it a sewing success.