Friday, November 21, 2014

A Year of Dresses: La Tulipe and Perfect Party Dress Mash Up

Can you believe we are on the 31st week of A Year of Dresses?  This might be my favorite dress so far!  I adore how this dress, or I should say, these dresses, turned out.

Let's start with a little bit of background.  I made three of these dresses as flower girl and Jr. bridesmaid dresses for a dear friend.

Her wedding was last Saturday and a beautiful fall affair.  The colors were just stunning.  I think fall might be my very favorite color pallet.  These dresses were custom made for the wedding using patterns of the bride's choice with a little modification.  Don't worry, I'll tell you just what I did for each step!

As you probably can tell, the bodice of these dresses is the La Tulipe Dress, but the skirt is definitely not a circle skirt.  I used the skirt cutting chart from the Perfect Party Dress.  If you didn't know, the bodice of  La Tulipe and the Perfect Party dress are the same finished width and length so the bodice and skirts can be interchanged without any modifications.  I used the sash from the La Tulipe pattern, but added a gathered sheer overlay for added depth and dimension, more on that later.

Where to start...?  Let's start with the patterns. La Tulipe is a girls size pattern ranging in size from girls 2-10.  The pattern as written features a sweetheart neckline, tulip sleeves. pleated sash ties, and a full circle skirt.  It is an advanced beginner level pattern with plenty of photos to help you at each step of the way.  Tulip sleeves are truly the easiest set in sleeves ever!  If you've never set in a sleeve, this pattern is a great place to start!

The Perfect Party Dress is also a girls pattern drafted for sizes 2-10.  It features a classic sleeveless bodice with a full gathered skirt and wide sash that finished is a beautiful bow.   The pattern also includes optional bib details and ruched hem ruffle options.  To read more about those options make sure to read this A Year of Dresses post. The perfect Party Dress Pattern is recommended for  beginner / advanced beginner level seamstresses.

Next, let's talk about fabrics.  Both the La Tulipe pattern and Perfect Party Dress patterns are designed for cotton fabric, but other woven fabrics can be substituted for a different look.  For these dresses I used a stretch velvet for the bodice, satin flat piping on the sleeves, and lined with tricot lining.  The sashes are satin with a chiffon overlay; the sash ties are chiffon.  The skirts are also satin with a chiffon overlay.

The bodices were by far the most time consuming element of these dresses.  Sewing with stretch velvet is a bit like sewing with minky.  It slips, slinks, and stretches easily.

Let's start with the sash.  I used the sash pattern piece from the La Tuipe dress and cut from pumpkin colored satin.  I then cut the chiffon overlay the same width of the pattern piece but twice as long.  Next gather the sides of the chiffon to match the length of the satin sash piece and baste both layers together close to the edge.  Now you can treat them as one piece.  Next, instead of pressing under the top edge and topstitching as directed in the pattern, I marked a placement line on the bodice, aligned the sash with the marking right sides together with the bodice and stitched in place 1/4" from the edge.  I then flipped the sash down and basted to the sides and bottom of the bodice.  I'm sorry, I made three of these dresses and forgot to take any pictures of this step!

For the sash ties in the back I used the same chiffon as the gathered overlay in front.  I cut the sash according to pattern instructions, but instead of seaming and turning as directed I used a rolled hem on my serger to finsih the edges. I then gathered the short end that attaches to the side seam to fit the width of the sash.  Make sure to align the top edge with the top of the sash and leave 5/8" from the raw edge on the bottom. Baste in place.

I then finished assembling the bodice as directed in the La Tullipe pattern.  I first tried lining the bodices using apparel lining, because I did not need the stretch properties of the velvet, but polyester apparel lining has no give and was not working well with slinky stretch velvet.  So I switched to a tricot lining designed for knit fabrics.  It worked much better and still stabalized the velvet as needed. Pins and the occasional dab of a glue stick were definitely my best friends while attaching the lining.  When you think you've pinned enough, add a few more just for good measure. Instead of topstitching the bodice edge, I used that advanced technique of understitching.  To understitch open the seam flat and sew the close to the seamed edge only through the lining and seam allowance.  This will keep the lining from rolling to the outside of the garment.

The sleeves are lined with apparel lining.  Keep in mind that the sleeve lining can sometimes be seen on a tulip sleeve.  Plum apparel lining definitely looks better than black tricot!  I used a flat satin piping in the sleeves.  To make flat piping cut a strip of satin on the bias 1" wide by the length of the sleeve edge.  Fold in half and match the raw edges with the edge of the sleeve. Baste in place.  Now continue with the sleeve lining and finishing as per the instructions.  

And breathe a sigh of relief!  The hardest part is done.  While working with special occasion fabrics takes a bit more time and patience than working with quilting cottons, but don't despair.  Take your time, sew a bit slower, and use lots of pins.  You can do this, and the results are so rewarding!

Moving on to the skirt.  This part is pretty easy.  The skirts are made from a layer of satin and a layer of chiffon.  They are cut from the Perfect Party Dress cutting chart except that I used the full bolt width (60" on special occasion fabrics) of the fabric for each the front and back skirt pieces..  I used the full width on all three dresses even though they are different sizes.  You'd never know that the fullness is slightly different on each dress.  The two flower girls (sizes 2 and 4) skirts knee length as per the pattern.  The Jr. Bridesmaid's dress (size 9/10) is lengthened to tea length.  The length was determined by measuring from the crease of her knee to mid calf where the dress was to fall and adding that number to the skirt length on the Perfect Party Dress pattern cutting chart.

I seamed the satin layer by sewing and then serging and hemmed with a blind hem stitch following the setting in my machine's manual.  I seamed the chiffon using a french seam.  To do this sew WRONG sides together using a 1/4" seam allowance, trim to 1/8". then fold on the seam (you now have RIGHT sides together) and sew again with a 1/4" seam.  A french seam is a great way to finish sheer fabrics where you do not want to see the serge through the fabric on the right side.  I hemmed the sheer with a rolled hem on my serger.  I used embroidery thread in my upper looper for a pretty shiny finish to the rolled hem. When hemming the chiffon I cut off about a 1 1/4" with my serger blade, leaving the chiffon a little longer than the satin.

My very favorite aspect of these special dresses is the color play going on in the skirt.  The satin layer is pumpkin orange while the chiffon is plum.  It gave the perfect depth and color to the dresses!

When gathering the skirts, instead of basting and gathering as one (the traditional method for gathering an over and underskirt), I gathered them separately.  I really wanted the chiffon to sit on top of the satin instead of in with it.  So I gathered the chiffon and basted to the bodice.  Then I gathered the satin and pinned it in place.  Finally I stitched through all the layers.  I found that there were too many layers for my serger blade to be able to cut smoothly so I trimmed the seam with my sewing sheers before serging to finish the seam.   

One final detail and this dress is done.  Because this was  fall wedding and maple leaves were a big part of the decorations, we added a leaf pin to the sash.  I made the pins by hot gluing purchased leaves to a broach pin and securing to the sash.  It was the perfect finishing touch!

Sit back and admire your beautiful dress.  This dress is slightly more involved than many dresses, but so worth it.  Miss 4 year old flower girl requested that the dresses be twirly.  The extra fullness in the skirt made them super twirly! 

I love the little peaks of pumpkin satin you can see
under the skirt in this shot.

Too sweet!

And there you have it!  Beautiful dresses that will be cherished forever. If you love a dressy holiday dress, try this dress in red or green, navy or silver.  The options are endless!  If I've left out any details you would like to know more about please ask and I will do my best to answer for you!

Here are the details of the the patterns I used to create these dresses. 

  • The La Tulipe dress pattern for girls in sizes 2 - 9/10
  • Advanced beginner sewing level
  • options for buttonholes or button loops
  • sweetheart neckline
  • beautiful tulip sleeves
  • full circle skirt
  • no gathering!
  • Perfect Party Dress pattern for girl in sizes 2 - 9/10
  • Beginner/Advanced beginner sewing level
  • options for buttonholes or button loops
  • classic bodice with optional bib
  • gathered skirt with optional ruched ruffle hem
  • flower tutorial included

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Pearl Dress

You've seen it all over the last couple of days, but I have one more Pearl Dress to show you today!  In case you've missed it, Pearl is the newest Tie Die Diva pattern and the 5th pattern in the Diva Collection.  Diva Collection patterns are a little more full, have a little more flair, and are a little more FUN!

This will be your go to fall and winter dress! This is the second one I've made and it is a perfect Christmas dress.  I love it!  As with all Diva Collection patterns, Pearl includes an extended size range including nine sizes from 12-18 months through girls 9/10.  The pattern features a button close bib with ruffle detail, elbow length sleeves with ruffle, long sash ties, and a hem band. Each of these features allows for multiple fabric placement and trim options. The pattern is designed for advanced beginner/intermediate sewing level seamstresses.  The pattern requires easing a set in sleeve and buttonholes (or use press in snaps).

Sweet Pea was such a trooper taking pictures in the cold.
Look at here poor red nose!
On this dress I chose to make visible buttons.  My buttons reminded me of snowflakes or flowers and were a perfect un-obtrusive option.  Choose some cute, flashy buttons for a fun look.  The pattern also includes instructions for invisible buttons or using press in snaps.  For the bib I added some small, cream, pre-gathered lace layered in addition my ruffle.  The bib is also the perfect place for adding a fun embroidery or applique.

I decided that the bib and sash would be the show stealer on this dress.  I love the red sash! It's a great pop of color especially on a Christmas dress.

To keep the rest of the dress simple, I made both the sleeve ruffles and hem band from the main fabric.  I added a simple ivory and gold braid to the seams for a little flair.  

 The trim is stitched on with a straight stitch using invisible thread.  When I reached the end, I overlapped the trim and switched to a zig zag stitch for about 1/2" to make sure the ends were secure.

I adore how this dress came out. The fabric is just perfect (in my opinion) for an understated Christmas outfit.  It is Christmassy, but not over the top.  She will easily wear it for the rest of the winter without looking like she's dressed for the wrong holiday.

If you've not grabbed your pattern yet be sure to do it now!  You have until noon Pacific time today (November 14) to get it at a special introductory price. Are you still debating what to make for holidays photos, look no further! This dress is quick to sew and looks amazing.  Church, family get togethers, holiday parties... this dress is IT.

Here's the pattern details at a glance!

  • Extended sizes from 12-18 months through girls 9/10
  • Advanced beginner/intermediate sewing level
  • Choose visible or invisible buttons, or choose press in snaps
  • Elbow sleeves
  • Full skirt
  • Long sash ties

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sewing for Fall (and Winter) - Boots and Dresses Roundup!

There's no need to stop sewing your children's clothing when the weather turns chilly! You can sew up long-sleeved patterns at every skill level, or layer sleeveless patterns with t-shirts beneath or a cute cardi on top. I love, love, love, boots and dresses for the perfect Fall look. Here is a fun round up of our own and our customers' Tie Dye Diva patterns styled with boots!

First up, I sewed up some of the gorgeous fabric provided to me by Blend Fabrics into three Tie Dye Diva dresses just begging for boots and sent them to amazing mom-and-model team Kortney and Alissa. Oh, how I love the results!

Here's our newest dress pattern, Pearl, with its ruffled button-up bib, long sash, elbow-length sleeves and a full skirt. I'd been holding on to this Maisie fabric by Maude Asbury for just the right project and I think this was it! I bought the main print at Hawthorne Threads.

Here's a classic A-line dress with a twist, I used these darling panel designs from the Good Company collection by Cori Dantini for Blend to make a fun foxy dress. The whole collection is so cute for Fall with acorns, woodland animals, woodgrains and more. You can find this one at Hawthorne Threads, too. (I am not affiliated with Hawthorne Threads, just a happy customer.)

And the frosting on the dress-and-boots cake ... our ruffle-neck Daydreamer Dress pattern made with Luckie by Maude Asbury. Daydreamer is the perfect photo dress, look how it frames this sweet face!

We asked Tie Dye Diva fans to share their favorite TDD dresses and skirts with boots and are knocked out by the cuteness! Look at all these great ways to style for Fall - layers, denim jackets, cardis, long sleeves and ... of course, the boots.

Clockwise from left: Fair & Square Dress by Breteni; Perfect Party Dress by Ashley; Peasant Dress by Leisha

Clockwise from left: Easy Peasy Peasant by Jaybee Baby; Ruby Ruffles Skirt by Paola; Fair & Square by Rachel 
Left to right: Butterfly Dress by Because of Brenna; Coral Dress by Hot Fudge; Perfect Party Dress by Crafty Contessa

Clockwise from left: The Pearl Dress by Bethy's Bows & Sews; The Pearl Dress by Katherine; Opal Knit Flutter by Rachel
Butterfly Dress by That's So Addie
Thank you to these wonderful seamstresses for sharing their photos!

You can find these patterns, along with sewing patterns for cozy hoodies, long sleeved dresses and tops and more for instant download in our shop at

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Perfect Party Dress

Can you believe this is the 29th week of A Year of Dresses and I haven't  shown you a Perfect Party Dress yet?!  How did that happen?  Good thing we are going to rectify that now.  For the month of November I'm going to show  you some of my favorite looks for the holidays.  This is the time of year a lot of us are thinking about Christmas dresses and I have several wonderful options to show you.  So,without further ado, we will start with this decked out Perfect Party Dress.

The Perfect Party Dress is a girl's dress pattern covering sizes from 2-10.  This advanced beginner pattern is a classic through and through.  It features a fully lined, classic length bodice, sash that ties in a nice full bow, and knee length skirt.  And that's just the basics.  Then there are endless options for fancy-ing it up as much or little as you like. Add the bib, then decide on trims.  Try the ruffle around the edge, or use other trim such as lace or rickrack.   Embellish the bib.  Applique, embroidery, monogram, tuxedo ruffle, ribbons, buttons.  The options are as limitless as your imagination.  Move down the dress to the sash. That sweet double layer flower is included in the pattern too!  Finally, decided to add the ruched ruffle to the hem, leave it plain, or perhaps add rick rack or other purchased trim.  The pattern also includes instructions for both buttonhole or button loop options.

With all those amazing pattern details, let's talk about what I did with this dress.  I made this dress as part of a fabric challenge at Fabric Outlet on Facebook (enabler alert...if you've never checked out her Thrifty Thursday sale, you're missing some great deals!) Seeing as it was for a challenge, I went all out with the details.  I of course added the bib. I trimmed the bib with purchased ivory lace.  I then added three rows of ivory ribbon down the middle.  I topstitched on both edges of the ribbon to attach. I finished it off with dark pink buttons.


Moving down to that lovely sash, I of course added a flower.  I waited to choose fabrics for the flower until after finishing the rest of the dress.  I then decided that it needed a bit of spark so I chose a dark red fabric for the bottom layer and pink for the top layer.  I used the same button for the center as I used on the bib.

Because I was going all out on this dress, I added fullness to the skirt.  This challenge fabric was 60" wide and I used a full bolt width for both front and back.  The skirt is VERY full, but I love it! Adding fullness to the skirt is an easy way to fancy up just about any dress with ease.  Then, of course, I also added the ruched ruffle.  I used the same coordinating fabric for the ruffle as I used on the bib.  I finished the ruffle with a rolled hem on my serger.  Unless you really like hemming, I definitely suggest a rolled hem.  I cut my ruffle twice as long as my skirt is wide, so about 240".  Remember, you need to finish both edges so in my case 480".  A little math for fun: 480" divided by 36" equals 13.33.  That is the number of YARDS that need hemmed for the ruched ruffle on my extra full skirt!

I chose to add buttonholes to my dress and some sweet pearl buttons to finish it off.

I had so much fun creating this dress!  All the little details came together so well and I couldn't be more happy with it.  While this is not a specifically "Christmas" dress,  I think it definable works for an understated holiday style can can continue to be worn all year.

It's definitely a hit with Sweet Pea!  Just look at that grin! The extra fullness means it's great for twirling and dancing is one of Sweet Pea's favorite past times. Just a few more pictures for good times sake!

Forgive the horribly blurry picture, but it's too cute not to share!

 And of course, your quick and easy pattern details at a glance:

  • Girls sizes includes 7 sizes from 2-10
  • Advanced beginner sewing level
  • Fully lined, classic bodice length
  • Sash with full bow
  • Buttonhole or buttonloop options
  • Optional bib perfect for embellishing
  • Optional ruched hem ruffle