Thursday, June 6, 2013

A perfect play dress

This dress is far from perfect. It kind of bellows homemade at you. Hopefully in a cute endearing way and not in a "yikes, look at that" way. Its perfection is not in its uneven hem and less than tailored fit. Instead it is the ideal little girl's dress for running through a sprinkler on a hot summer's day, for poking around rock pools in search of crabs and turning cartwheels on a sandy beach.
It is light and airy. It’ll keep you cool but covered at the same time. And there are pockets big enough to keep all your treasures in. After a busy day of fun and games, you can kick off your flip flops and head home looking as fresh as when you set out.
And how fabulous are these beach huts? I wish they wrote the paint colours on the side.

I bet people walk past saying things like "Now that is the shade of muted canary I was talking about for the kitchen dresser." 
But back to the dress. I keep spotting pretty peasant-style dresses at Boden and other lovely but pricy places and wanted to try one out myself. There are a gazillion tutorials around but I found this one by Teresa Brady particularly clear. It is actually for an adult-sized peasant top but the construction is the same. 
A peasant dress is basically made of four pieces; front, back and two sleeves. You sew the sleeve pieces to one of your large pieces first, then attach the remaining large piece and run a seam up both sides. 

Finally you make a casing for the elastic around the neckline of the dress. I pulled the elastic quite tight as I wanted the dress to work as a cover up from the sun.
I test ran the pattern first with a dolly-sized version. I drew the pieces freehand on a piece of A4 using the whole length and width of the paper. Remember that the curves where the sleeves meet the body must be exactly the same size and shape on each of the four pieces, so once you have drawn one piece trace your curve onto the other pieces.

Here is Pandora the Panda looking very sweet and demure in hers. 
Perhaps not too cleverly I decided to give the girl-sized version a bash in the middle of the night without measuring my girl first. The upshot was a dress so voluminous, I could have worn it as a maternity smock in my ninth month. I did a fair amount of chopping and resewing until I had something wearable for her.
The pockets really helped pull it all together. It was my first time doing patch pockets and I was pretty pleased with how they turned out. You could add elastic to the sleeves too to make puff sleeves but I had run out of steam and I think I prefer the floaty look anyway.
So go on! What are you waiting for. Make your girl a play dress and go play with her out in the sunshine.

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