Saturday, January 19, 2008
little white dress
i have a hard time cutting kids' clothing completely without a pattern. i find that i need to use an existing garment or bits and pieces of some cut up, recombined, or altered patterns for reference. that said, since i'm about to hack up the pattern i used to make eva's white dress last year, i thought i should finally write about the dress first.
last may, we returned to smith college for my 10 year reunion. smith is full of traditions: weekly friday afternoon tea served in every house, mountain day -- a surprise holiday each fall for everyone to go hike around and have a picnic rather than go to class (announced by the ringing of tower bells on whatever day has nice weather), and, of course, the whole white dress thing. for graduation, there is a big ivy parade where all the seniors wear white and carry red roses, and all the alumnae wear white along with a sash in their class color. for my five year reunion, i made my dress (and though it was well constructed, discovered why bias cut dresses are not for me). so this time, i decided to buy myself a cute little baby doll minidress and instead made a dress for eva.
i found some sweet embroidered eyelet fabric (there's a name for it, what is it?); slightly more geometric in pattern than the usual frilly variety. using a pattern pretty much straight-up (butterick 3782), i turned out the dress fairly quickly. (however, i spent a bit more time than strictly necessary ensuring the vertical pattern of eyelets was properly aligned between the skirt and bodice pieces, and between the front and back. of course, the pleats make that impossible, but i successfully lined up some key areas.) one deviation from the pattern: i'm resolutely against the use of packaged bias edging for necks and armholes (unless there's a compelling design reason to use it), so instead i just lined the whole dress. beside that, i find lightweight white fabric (with eyelet holes) sort of want for a lining anyway, don't you agree?
never one to leave good enough alone, i decided to make some edging for the hem with my then-new crochet skills. i tried using crochet thread and a wee tiny hook (maybe a #7) and quickly gave in to hand cramps and frustration. i then found some lovely rowan cotton glace -- which has a nice sheen that worked well with the embroidery of the eyelet fabric -- and had much better luck. i've since lost the pattern i used, and can only guess that i used an F hook, but what i can tell you is that i then vowed to make (and have yet to follow up) lots more fun edgings and trims for handmade and purchased clothing.
like everything i made for eva in that span of several months, she cried and ran away when i tried to get her to wear it. at least at first. once she put it on at reunion, she loved it and seemed to get that it was special. (now she loves it when i make her things, and every project i start prompts her to ask "are you making me a backpack?" no, not yet. but i need to move that up on the list.)
unfortunately, it rained -- literally -- on our parade. as a result, it was a bit less fun for an almost-two-year-old -- instead of frolicking along a parade route through campus, she was made to sit (relatively) quietly and listen to speeches in a giant gymnasium. regardless, the dress was a big hit. and after all, isn't that what really matters in life?