Thursday 5 March 2015

A Vision in Purple

As I may have mentioned I was bridesmaid for my friend; this meant that I had a beautiful dress made for me and saved me the worry of finding something to wear. I did still need to come up with something for my little girl. After making the 80s style dress for the hen I was full of confidence that I could make a simple children's dress.

I went to a lovely pattern in the Great British Sewing Bee - Sew Your Own Wardrobe book. The design  is pretty with a lined top attached to a skirt, the seam is covered with ribbon and there is a zip in the back. The instructions were clear although I got a little frustrated that there are not 'front' and 'back' views of all the garments in the book. I went shopping for fabric at Nimble Fingers in Lerwick and found some really pretty purple-shot crepe. From some angles it looks blue whereas from others it looks pink. It had a lovely weave and no stretch. The pattern used two different fabrics but I was looking for a party dress, not an everyday dress, so I used one.

Child's party dress using Sewing Bee pattern.
I cut the top of the dress with the weave running horizontal and the skirt with the weave running vertical. This only worked because there was no stretch to the fabric. This helped show the two different colours off. I had no problem with the pattern layout as I don't mind it all being colour coded on a large sheet. I did, however, have two issues with the pattern; the first was that the sizes on the pattern piece were incorrect, which was confusing, and the second was that there is no size chart for the children's garments in the book. There are men and women's charts and they explain clearly that these differ from the sizes in shops, but I had no way of knowing if the dress I was making would fit my daughter. I found this incredibly infuriating and an avoidable oversight.

The dress is lined and embellished before it is sewn together at the side seams. I did not trust myself judging the pattern by eye and I was not sure it would fit as I did not have a chart to check the measurements. I decided to put the zip in and tack the rest, I put together the basic dress with no lining and no embellishments in order to fit it. As it happened the 3 year old dress size fitted fine (she was 2 and a half at this point). I then took apart the tacking stitch and put it back together as instructed with the lining and embellishments. Even though it fitted fine I was pleased that I did it that way as there is no point in going to the effort to make something if you don't make it actually fit. I was just pleased it was for my little girl as she was there for fittings, but if I had been making it for a child who I only had the measurements for then I would have had no hope.

I know some people would say that you could make up a pattern after taking measurements but if I was that skilled I would not have got a book full of patterns. I was pleased with the way the dress came together - the most problematic part for me was getting the ribbon on straight and matching at the side. The ribbon I chose was different and quite pretty as it had sequins and silver embroidery on it. It was a bit more "bling" than normal but I felt this added a party dress feel to the outfit by being something special, and I used purple buttons on the shoulders. I loved the finishing touches and embellishments to this design and I feel this made it special.

To co-ordinate with the dress I made her a little bag. the fabric I chose was lilac with purple fairies, castles, frogs and toadstools. It was "girly" but not over the top and I loved it when I bought it a year ago. I lined the bag with some of the left over fabric from her dress and made it reversible. I found the pattern and tutorial online. It was the perfect size for a few small toys to keep her occupied during various parts of the day.

Coordinating "book tote" bag

My final piece of coordinating clothing for the wedding was a tie for my husband. I had never made a tie before but I found the process straightforward. Unlike most ties the one I made was fully lined. I used black lining left over from the hen dress to go with the purple. I found a pattern and great tutorial. The main thing was getting the grain of the fabric to line up correctly with the pattern. It also took a huge amount of fabric for something that seemed so small. The main difficulty was keeping it straight and getting a good point at the tip. I was pleased with it and would happily make more ties in the future should there ever be a need.

Our daughter was also chuffed to be matching her Daddy!

Purple Tie.


  1. Your tie (and other stuff too!) Looks great! I'm glad you could find the tutorial and pattern useful.

  2. Thank you - I am just starting out so still learning lots!