Project: Children’s Dress

Sew Tunes: A mixed CD received in the mail from a friend. No one sends mixed CDs and letters in the mail anymore. I was lucky enough to receive both!

Pattern: Simplicity (pattern 2167)

Fabric and Notions Used: Gingham, Broadcloth, Rick Rack, Ribbon, Buttons (2), Embroidery Thread, Hot Iron Transfer

New to Me: Embroidery

Trips to Store: 1

Loved One: My college gal pal Michelle’s little girl Josephine, who is now almost 3. How is it possible that we are of the age to have children? I feel like the late 90s were…like…yesterday.

Day by Day…

I have been eying this pattern for awhile, but the embroidery work scared me away. I am ready to tackle it head on during week 20.

Monday, November 28 – Saturday, December 3:

The pattern calls for a vintage pillowcase, but I haven’t been lucky enough to score one at the thrift, antique shops, and estate sales. So I  am improvising, using Aunt Martha’s Hot Iron Transfers. The packaging looks vintage. Perfect…and charming.

Since I am using gingham, I thought roosters would be fun. Think farm. I cut out the rooster transfers:

I cut out the pattern piece for the skirt front (broadcloth), and placed the roosters face down, and applied a hot, dry iron to the backside. The result: a very clean transfer. I have seen other crafters embroider using a ring, so I pretended I knew what I was doing:

I had Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts close by.  There are several types of hand-embroidery stitches like the stem stitch, the chain stitch, and the blanket stitch. I do love the blanket stitch, but for this project, I am going to bring it back to the basics and use the back stitch and the cross stitch. I started embroidering but found that I needed a little more guidance, so I rang my friend Shon. Over wine, she taught me all things embroidery.

After a few tries…over a few days…my roosters were looking real good (not trying to be too cocky).

As I was doing the back stitch and the cross stitch, I wanted to switch it up a bit, so tried something new. Not sure if this is an actual stitch:

I stitched a facing on the backside of the roosters to hide the embroidery string.

Sunday, December 4:

It’s time to do some sewing! There are 5 pieces total to the pattern, one of which I have already cut out for the rooster embroidery. Most of the pieces are cut on the fold. And I am really surprised that interfacing is not needed for this project, especially with the bodice since there are buttonholes.

I am using gingham as the main fabric. I found it in the nursery section of  Jo-Ann Fabric. The pattern called for 1 and 1/8 yards. The cutting layout…

Part I (Skirt back on the fold. Skirt sides close to the selvages):

Part II (Both bodice front and back on the folds; yields 2 of each piece.):

Part III (Then flipped them up to the top fold.):


I stay stitched all bodice pieces 1/2″ from the raw edge.

It’s time to have some fun with rick rack. The pattern tissue doesn’t indicate a placement line for the rick rack, so I winged it and pinned it 3/4″ from the raw edge. I basted the rick rack.

I then stitched the front to the back of the bodice at the sides seams (5/8″ seam allowance). I did the same for the second set of bodice front/back pieces. This will become the facing. I then pinned and stitched both bodice pieces together with right sides together.

I clipped the curves, then turned right side out. I noticed that the basted in rick rack was not secure enough, so I re-stitched the section that had the rick rack. I made sure it was really sandwiched well between the two pieces of the front bodice fabric. I flipped the bodice right sides out, and pressed the seams.

I stitched the skirt front sections to the skirt back. I used my pinking shears to finish the raw edges of the seams, then ironed them flat. I then hemmed the bottom raw edge.

I then folded the side skirt sections to the fold line (on pattern tissue) and placed rick rack on the inside of the fold. These folds will allow for more of the skirt front (the roosters) to show. Once the rick rack was placed, I stitched the skirt front (roosters) to the skirts sides along the raw edge of the fold.

I then basted the top raw edge of the skirt and gathered it to match up with the bodice. I matched at the notches. I don’t know if it is perfectly even. I probably won’t know until Josephine puts it on. But gathering is tough. I feel like some of the gathering comes out as it slides under the presser foot.

Next step was the buttonholes. I held my breath while doing it. One of the last buttonhole projects didn’t turn out so well. But this time, I was pleasantly surprised.

I do need to figure out how to set the machine so both sides of the button hole have the same stitch density. As seen above, the top line is much more dense than the bottom.

I sewed the buttons on and the ribbon at the waistline. Joesphine now how a dress to bring to the country, although I think she is a city gal.

Project Wrap-up

Sew Happy:

  • The rick rack along the neckline looks A for awesome.
  • The horizontal lines on the skirt sections (skirt back and skirt sides) line up perfectly.

Not Sew Happy:

  • The straps aren’t completely symmetrical.
  • The ribbon, being that it is somewhat thin, was difficult to stitch in place. There are a few areas were it is slightly above the waistline.
  • I don’t think I gathered evenly when stitching the skirt to the bodice.
  • I used too large of a transfer, so a bit of the roosters are being hidden.

Hmmm, so all of these things that made me not sew happy are actually telling of where I am at in my sewing experiment. I am now starting to focus more and more on the detail. I feel like I made some movement this week!

Helpful Hints

I have a new name for this section – Next Time!

  • Next time, I am going to make sure the embroidery is of appropriate size. It would have been great if both roosters were showing fully.