Friday, June 7, 2013

Sew and Tell with Charlotte's Dress

Happy Friday to all you out there!  We're celebrating my son's 6th birthday this weekend, so we should be having oodles and oodles of fun as all 30-something members of our family converge on our house.  I actually do like to get together with our families.  They're a fun bunch ;) 
Even though we'll be having an outdoor pirate-themed water party, I still wanted to sew up my daughter a new pirate-inspired dress.  Then I realized how silly that would be.  She'll be in a bathing suit.  I've got the cutest pirate fabric, and Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop's Perfect Peasant Dress was calling my name... but, alas, that will have to be for another time and place. 
If you are lucky enough to have a fancier party (or photo shoot, holiday, church, special event) to sew for than I did, may I suggest Charlotte's Dress from Olabelhe Patterns?  This is such a classic and feminine style that will flatter any little girl!  The bow at the waist gives it just the right touch of charm, while the full double skirt (with a crinoline underskirt) give this dress a graceful fullness with beautiful movement!  Everything Olabelhe designs is golden in my book!  Every little girl needs a dress like this hanging in her closet!  So many opportunities for embellishment mean that you'll get plenty of use from this pattern.  How cute would it be to add a ruffle where the contrasting fabric bands are or to change it up and attach a fabric flower instead of a bow?  I adore patterns that allow for personal creativity so you can truly make the design your own!  Charlotte's Dress comes in sizes 3- 12.  Want to add this pattern to your stash?  You can get it for 25% off right now on the website
But before you head off to purchase, read the review sent in by LisaAnn!
I've learned to sew entirely by myself by trial and error and a few good books.   When my first daughter was born after my first three boys I just HAD to have some girly updates to all that boy stuff ;)  That was several years ago, and I consider myself to be average at the skill of garment sewing.

The beautiful grey/cream sample on the cover of the pattern caught both my eye and those of my two youngest daughters.  We went fabric shopping and they wanted the same colors, but we ended up with something much brighter that suits them.  The fabrics are mid-weight cottons-  Easter Crosses Tonal White by Eggscelent Prints Fabric, which is bright white small crosses (about an inch high) on a duller white background for the main dress and He Is Risen from Holiday Inspirations, which is a bright yet deep purple with small (about 2 inch) stained glass designs of doves and hearts in light blue/grey/white and the words "He Is Risen" and "Alleluia" in white for the contrasting bands and bow.  The crinoline (underskirt) was plain white broadcloth and fine white tulle with light glitter.

The pattern came with the bodice pieces printed which took only moments to cut out in my size 10 as needed for both girls.  I then covered the pattern with clear packing tape for stability and durability as I see myself using this many more times.  I pinned it to the correct layers of fabric (I cut out both bodices at the same time), making sure to put the fold edge on the proper folded edge of the fabric for the fronts.  The skirts were a matter of cutting rectangles of fabric in the correct dimensions on the correct fabrics.  I urge you to please be sure your directional prints are lined up correctly before cutting!  I cut out all of the skirts and folded/stacked/labeled them as well as the bodices in less than 30 minutes.  Then I moved on to the banding strips which took another 10 minutes.  I stacked/folded/labeled those as well.  As a note- I ended up needing two more strips of each row of banding for the completed project.  I don't know for sure if it was a pattern issue or a problem with my measurements, but I was about 15" short for each row. You may want to cut extra just to be sure.  I made matching headbands out of extra strips as well :)
This pattern is not terribly difficult for even a beginning seamstress.  The most difficult part is the gathering of the skirts, but the author has even included a nice diagram of the correct way to do this. The only other suggestion I have on that is to pin the four center quadrants first (like N,S,E,W on a compass) then pin in between each of those, THEN do the gathering technique. This will keep things evenly spaced around the skirt and make it much more manageable in general.  I was glad I knew about this beforehand, or it could have been frustrating to get it all even.
Sizing on the pattern is pretty close to average store sizing, but runs a bit larger, especially around the waist.  You may want to try it on and adjust before the final assembly.  The dresses for my girls are both a little larger in the bodice than I prefer, but they fit the way the girls like it- loose and comfortable, which also gives them growing room.  If we were doing this for an event like a wedding I would make a size smaller to have a more snug fit.
Although my daughters both wear a size 10, one has longer legs and other is a bit shorter so I adjusted the skirt lengths accordingly.  That is an easy way to customize and change up this dress so you can make several different looks with the one pattern. 
I used a half inch sized crystal button, and the size 10 needed four of them for good spacing.  I don't have the cool, fancy ruler shown in the pattern so just measured the bodice length and divided by four then spaced them accordingly.  You could easily use different sized buttons and adjust the count as needed. That is another great way to customize the dress.
Overall we all love the dresses made from this pattern, and it was easy enough to make that I am willing to make several more in other fabrics for their summer wardrobes.  They received many, many compliments on the dresses at Easter church service.  I can't wait to see what other looks we make from this pattern!  
 So elegant!  If that's not a perfect Easter dress, I don't know what is!  What beautiful girls we have modeling for us, too!

To go with our party theme today, our Pair it Up feature will showcase some tea party necessities :)

This AWESOME pattern collection from The Sewing Loft contains a pillowcase apron, felt doughnuts, and sugar cookies!  Everything your little princess needs to host her own tea party (except her tea set, of course!)  Make her apron as dainty and whimsical as she likes!  Her "guests" will adore those scrumptious treats she has prepared.  All of these individual patterns are included in the Tea Party Collection.

 If you want to add some variety to her tea party menu, take a look at the Petitfore Pincushions from Indygo Junction.  These deliciously sweet pincushions look good enough to eat!  Make a few for her to use at playtime and whip up a few for yourself to decorate your sewing table with ;)  These are perfect for pincushion exchanges or just anytime you want to create something unique! 

Hurry over to the website and get your copy of Charlotte's Dress while it's on sale!  This gorgeous pattern is worth every penny!  Y'all have a great weekend!

Go sew something magical!!


  1. I am a new sewer and would love to make a dress for my daughter's. This is inspiring!! So pretty!

    1. Thanks so much Gina! If you ever need any beginner pattern recommendations or help along the way, please don't hesitate to ask!!

  2. This is so beautiful; you did a fantastic job! I'm visiting you from Sew Country Chick.

    1. I appreciate it, Shirley Ann! LisaAnn did a lovely job :)

  3. I, too, am visiting from Sew Country Chick :) The dresses turned out so lovely :) Thank you for sharing :)

    1. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by Jenya! Thanks so much!

  4. I'm coming from SewCountryChick too! Your dresses are lovely! The girls look so happy:)

    1. Amy, you are too sweet! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Replies
    1. Justine, thank you so much! I loved getting the photos back for this review :) They turned out great!


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I'll try to respond as quickly as I can! Have a fabulous day full of sewing!