Friday, January 18, 2013

a bubble dress for Christmas

It's been reeeeeaaaally cold for the past few days.

Last week it was warm. And any Ottawan can tell you, warm weather is not sunny weather. It's usually grey. Warm = grey. Sometimes rainy, usually snowy, but not bright. No, if you want bright sunny weather you have to wait for the cold. And not that sissy, wamby-pamby cold, either, but the deep, down, freeze-you-to-the-marrow cold. You know, the quality Canadian cold. Yesterday we had it and I wanted it. But we also had an entirely trashed living room and a sleep-deprived, under-caffeinated mommy with the temper of a newly-awoken bear in the spring. This morning brought -26C temperatures (that's -15F for you 'Murikans), a bright, unobstructed golden sun, and a well-rested, far-better-caffeinated mommy. Bad for anyone with plans to take leisurely walks outside, but good for me. Kidlets ate breakfast and I hurriedly made the living room presentable. Because I really wanted to show you a bit of what kept me at my sewing desk day after day, night after night back before Christmas.


I can not even begin to tell you how proud I am of this dress. I mean, we're talking way beyond that healthy, "ya done good" sort of normal pride. No, I'm into full-on, first-cornice-of-Dante's-purgatory, sinful pride. I want her to wear this dress everywhere we go and then faux-modestly quip, "Oh, her dress? Oh yeah, I threw that together one night before Christmas. No big," while inwardly yelling "Booya! 'Spect!" Because I'm  all street like that, you know.




The dress is printed fine-wale corduroy, fully lined with a brown and turquoise-dot cotton print (previously seen here and here) with white fine-wale corduroy piping at the waist and a single-button closure at the back.   I used this tutorial to get the general idea, but drafted my own pieces based on Peanut's measurements. I had drafted a paper pattern back in October for Peanut's fairy costume (which I've only just realized I neglected to feature in a post) and used that as the basis for the bodice of the dress. The skirt? Well, to be quite honest I couldn't even begin to tell you the proportions of the skirt. It was late and I was highly caffeinated when I started working on this. I can't remember anything about the math I used to arrive at the drafted pieces I did, and I drafted directly onto the yard goods I used (risky, I know, but I couldn't very well try a muslin on my 4yo and expect to keep it a surprise, could I? And therein lies the terror of sewing surprise garments for older children: what if she loves it but it doesn't remotely fit??) so I can't so much as give you a hint in that regard. Check out the tutorial I linked above: that woman did a way better job of being helpful than I am going to be, I'm afraid. 

But do ogle the dress some more. Oh yes. do ogle this dress.

button closure


shoulder 2

surprised face

It's a perfect fit. Perfect. If I had made a dozen muslins and tried it on her countless times before I cut into the cord I could not have made a better fit. I have no idea how I managed it. It was sheer dumb luck (and do read that with Maggie Smith's Prof. McGonagall-voice: it's how I hear it in my head and it's awesome).

entire dress

Pride aside, though, the very best moment with this dress happened before she ever tried it on. She opened it Christmas morning, snatched it up out of the paper and held it at arm's length and exclaimed, "I love it!! Thank you, Mommy!!" and threw herself into my arms, hugging me. The dress coming together exactly as I wanted it to is good. But making my little girl rapturously happy with something I made with my own two hands? Way better. Way, way better.

dress 2


  1. It's beautiful, and she's lovely.

    There is nothing quite like making something just the way you picture it. Then having the recipient love it too, is even better.

  2. Anonymous5:53 AM

    I'm impressed with the piping between the bodice and skirt parts, super touch. Dante can take a leap...' you did good!' Helen



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