There is an elusive pattern out there that I keep searching for...the simple, full-skirted, long-sleeved, simple, comfy (and did I mention simple?) playdress for Daughter. I've found the knit version in the Sewbaby Twirly Dress, but I've also been seeking a woven version. I search the commercial pattern company websites often, and always in vain.
If I were less lazy, I would take all the elements of all the patterns I like and draft the perfect dress. But I just don't have the patience. I think ideally it would look just like the dress below, but perhaps with a zipper up the back instead of eighty-seven thousand buttons. Ok, there are just 8 (the pattern calls for 9 but I only had 8 pink ones), but criminy, that's still a lot of sewing buttonholes and stitching buttons.
Here's my latest. It's a newly released pattern - New Look 6745. It's good, people. Well written, clear directions, nice finishing. I liked it a lot, and usually I find stuff to complain about so that's saying something! I made a size 1, which fits Daughter almost perfectly. Believe it or not at 2.5 years old the size 1 still gaps a bit around the neckline/bodice area. But it is certainly wearable, much better than a size 2, and she will wear it all winter before it is outgrown. The fabric is flannel from Joann Fabrics.
I did make some mods.
If you look at the pattern cover, you'll notice there's no plain long-sleeved dress with plain gathered skirt. There are variations on that theme, but I had to cobble together pieces from different views to get exactly what I wanted. The bodice is the same for all views, so no change there. The sleeves are view D, but lengthened because the pattern calls for a separate band to be sewn onto the sleeve base as a decorative element. The skirt I used is from view B. I do plan to make some more of these as shown on the pattern - I have several coordinating fabrics in my stash so I can do the sectioned skirts and sleeve bands - but I wanted a single fabric for this dress.
Also, I neglected to buy matching bias tape, which you need for the neckline (no facings, huzzah!), so I cut my own bias strip from the leftover fabric. Worked great, and I'm thinking I might do this on all the versions I make of this pattern. That way it's always a guaranteed match.
Oh, and here are a few good tricks that you may or may not know about:
Tracing the pattern onto Pattern Ease is my least favorite part of sewing. For a dress like this where the skirt pieces are just giant rectangles, rather than tracing them, you can just fold the tissue pattern piece carefully and press it on the line indicating your chosen size. Pin it down to the fabric and cut very carefully so as not to slice into the folded pattern piece. Then you can just unfold the edges and put it away for next time and all sizes are still intact!
And finally, I stitched the buttons down using my machine. Here's a view of the back:
I used the buttonhole guide included with the pattern to place the buttonholes, and then again to mark the button placement. Once I knew where the buttons had to go, I set each button in place and used a very fine micron pen to mark the placket through the holes in the actual button. Then I measured the distance between the holes, set my machine's stitch width to that number (4.5 mm in this case), and set the stitch length to zero. That part is important because I didn't want the fabric to feed at all. I carefully lined up the button beneath the needle, over the two pen dots I'd made on the placket. I started the stitches by turning the handwheel (so I could be sure I wouldn't hit the button), and then hit the foot pedal for several stitches. I pulled all the threads through to the back and clipped them, and voila, 8 super-secure buttons. I can never get them secure enough by hand, so this is my new method for sewing down shank-free buttons. Try it! Just be careful not to slam your needle into the button.
Overall I give this pattern an A+. Daughter is wearing it right now at her insistence, even though it is a very unseasonable 80 degrees today. Look for more of these in the future! Right after I get the bathrobe done. And the winter coat. Oh, and another knit dress, and some corduroys that are cut and half-finished. And another corduroy dress that's cut and waiting patiently for assembly. Good heavens, somebody stop me.
Have a great weekend!