The tale of the Easter dress

Last Monday, after a quick check of my daughter E’s closet, I confirmed what I already knew: the girl didn’t have a dress for Easter Sunday. Off to the stores we went.

Shopping and I don’t always see eye to eye, and I think it’s because I already have a preconception of what I want to buy. When I can’t find it, I get grumpy.

For E’s Easter dress, I had already mentally outlined a set of criteria:

  • Not a “typical” Easter dress. Those adorable little pastel dresses with big floaty overskirts and bows and sashes are gorgeous — but they’re really only suitable for Easter or a stint as a flower girl in a wedding. Wear them again and everyone knows that you’re reusing your Easter dress. Since we have at least two other events in April that will require her to be dressed up, I’m trying to get some extra mileage out of it.
  • Twirlability. E wanted a skirt that could twirl, but not a “poofy” one (her words) because they looked too babyish for my 9-year-old.
  • No spaghetti straps. Neither E or I like spaghetti straps that much, unless it’s a sundress. Since it’s just the beginning of April, we have a lot of time before we hit sundress weather.
  • No cheap-looking dresses. I wanted a fully-lined garment for her. So many of the ones in the tween department seemed… cheap (not that they were, price-wise!). They were flimsy and wrinkled, and even on the hanger looked like they had no structure.
  • Classic styling. E gravitates towards dresses that have classic lines. Don’t we all, really? She’s seen a picture of Audrey Hepburn in her “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” classic black evening dress, and my daughter thought it was the most beautiful dress she’d ever seen. When we went shopping, I couldn’t find many items that had what I would consider classic lines. I’m not talking about putting tweens in pencil skirts, you understand, but I’m not sure why a simple lined-bodice-with-a-circle-skirt was so hard to find in the girls’ section.
  • Blue. And E wanted it to be a “pretty” shade of blue.

We did find a few options, but they all lacked at least one of the above criteria and were pretty expensive. I impulsively decided that I’d just make her dress — especially since I now have a shiny new sewing table all set up and ready to use.

As it happened, I had about 2.5 yards of blue fabric sitting in my stash. Years ago, it was originally destined to be a blouse for me, but I never got around to it. It seemed too thin for a dress, but E saw it and loved it right away.

I was weighing out my options for a lining when I saw a new flat twin sheet still in the package in the bottom of one of my bins. I remember buying it to use as a cheap template for making chair covers back when my teenaged son M was a baby. It just happened to be the perfect light blue color and weight for lining this dress. Even though I felt like I was channelling Fraulein Maria in the “Sound of Music,” I prepped it for cutting.

After a few days in my new sewing space, a lot of ripping out and re-sewing, and one broken zipper foot later, here’s the result:

tween Easter dress

This little dress is based on the See&Sew pattern 5443, but I streamlined it to remove any additional skirt tiers or ruffles. E didn’t want that extra “stuff” on it. It’s the first article of clothing that’s not a Halloween costume that I’ve sewn in a long, long, long time.

It’s exactly what I pictured. E loves it because it’s blue and it twirls!

Twirly dress for 9 year old girl

And it went perfectly with a little white sweater she already owned for Easter Sunday.

White sweater complements blue dress

I can see her wearing it this summer with her pink Converse sneakers. That’s what I want in a girl’s dress — quality, classic lines, and versatility.

And the fact that it used material from my stash so the only cost to me was a $2 zipper and a $6 replacement zipper foot? Absolutely priceless. Made me love it all the more.

Of course, when I finished it on Saturday afternoon, I realized that I had no clue what I would be wearing to church the next day. I better get busy sewing myself something to wear for these other upcoming events, even if it’s so much more fun to sew for her.

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About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
This entry was posted in Crafts, Easter, Family, Sewing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to The tale of the Easter dress

  1. Micha says:

    It’s perfect! I just love the polka dots and the color on her. Ya did good, mom.

    I agree with you on the dress selection for that age group. There really isn’t much to choose from. It’s like they take the women’s styles and make them smaller – but not the nice, classy styles. It’s so frustrating. I think you need to start your own line of tween dresses. 😉

    • Thanks, Micha! I’m all about the polka dots this year — and every year, really. Now I’m looking for a navy skirt with white polka dots for me…

      The older girls’ department is always so frustrating to shop in. I’m never terribly enamored of much of anything there — and I hate paying for clothes that look like they’ll fall apart in the washer.

      Tween Dress Designer — that’s a job title I’d love! 🙂

  2. paigesato says:

    awesome dress! And nice use of a flat sheet, too!

    • Yeah, I was humming “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Lining?” when I was cutting that sheet! It was cracking me up that I was taking sewing inspiration from “The Sound of Music.” Worked like a charm — I might make more clothes from sheets if they all hang like that! 🙂

  3. mtetar says:

    Very Nice Dress, and she can wear it again when it becomes warmer with out any sweater. The sweater gave it a whole new other, but fashionable look. She looks great wearing it. Great Job Joan! http://projectsbyMtetar.wordpress.com

  4. amyp22 says:

    Wonderful! That is an awesome dress and will look great with pink high tops too!

  5. Time With Thea says:

    So brilliant and it looks lovely. i so enjoyed reading your criteria for selecting the Easter dress. the ‘fluffy-foo-foo’ dresses are quite limiting aren’t they? You are so creative, talented and resourceful. `Thea

    • Aw, thanks Thea! You always say the nicest things!

      I do love those Easter dresses, especially on toddlers — really I do — but “limiting” is the perfect word for them. Besides, E is moving into those tween years where those dresses seem too babyish. The ones in the older girls’ section, however, are way too short, revealing, or just too chintzy.

      Looking over the shopping criteria, I guess I was really expecting A LOT out of one little dress. 🙂

  6. That is adorable, Joan!! Looks like such a fun and easy to wear dress, I love how sensible your daughter is 🙂 She is very lucky to have a mother who could whip up a dress from what she had on hand…btw, the sound of music is one of my favorite movies!!

    • E likes clothes and shopping — unlike her brothers who don’t want to think about them. And she does have definite opinions.

      Thanks for thinking that I just whipped up this dress, but at times it was totally winning the battle! If you could have seen me trying to put in that stinking zipper….oy. I definitely need more practice.

      I love that movie! My younger kids’ music teacher at their school uses “Do Re Mi” to teach kids how to sing. Then they learn some of the songs. It was awesome!

  7. Katie B says:

    Oh Joan it’s just lovely. I wish I knew how to sew. I doubt my son would be interested in wearing anything I made because they wouldn’t be jeans or t-shirts but I can wish.

    • Hey, thanks, Katie! I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out — although the number of times I had to rip out and redo seams tells me I need a lot more practice!

      I’ve been seeing a lot more interest in sewing lately– in magazines, online. I’ll bet that translates to more resources about learning to sew.

  8. I was cracking up about your comment about channeling your inner Fraulein Maria! This is absolutely adorable Joan! I love, love, love it!!! I can not stand shopping because I the prices of clothes brings me to my knees. I only buy the kids clothes at rummage sales or thrift shops which does cut down on choices immensely. I really should learn how to sew properly, but like you, it’s hard to get motivated when you don’t have a space to set up everything up. Now that you have that area to set up your sewing machine you can really go to town and do all kinds of amazing things! Great job Joan!

    • Boy, you aren’t kidding about the prices of kids’ clothes — absolutely shocking! Especially when you consider that one good growth spurt and it’s back to the store. Sigh.

      When my kids were little, I loved those thrift stores with children’s clothes. Had some amazing finds there, especially for those things that don’t really “wear out” but are absolutely necessary — like snow boots, snow pants, and special occasion clothes.

      I completely agree with you — I’m finding that having the space set up for sewing makes all the difference in the world. I feel like I can leave my mess at a moment’s notice, shut the door and no one will ever see it. Of course, now that I’m in here, I’m getting the urge to move over some of the office stuff and spread out until I take over the whole room (Mmwah-ha-ha!).

  9. Your daughter has great taste! she likes classy dresses YAY! so do I! 🙂 You are so patient as a mom! I love, love shopping but I only have patience when I’m shopping for myself, OK! and sometimes for Nate! 🙂 ha!ha! the dress you made for your daughter is beautiful and very classy and like you said: she can wear it again! Love how you ended this post about you not knowing what to wear; it’s happening to me quite often now, I get everyone ready (hubby, Nate, the dogs, the house) and I forget to wear makeup, brush my hair until we are leaving the house! 😉 It’s great you are writing about this in your blog; she will remember this when she will get older; my mother used to sew dresses and outfits for us when we were kids and I still remember them! we have pictures of us wearing them! 🙂 Now, you should go and sew a beautiful dress for yourself! 🙂

    • Boy, do I hear you about always being the last one ready to go! I’ll be rushing around, making sure everyone else got ready, hair combed, dog ready, clothes matching, etc, and then I’ll have about 6 minutes to pull myself together. It really doesn’t help that I have very little patience for shopping in general because then I don’t have any “go-to” clothes that are appropriate to various occasions. My uniform is pretty much jeans and a t-shirt, with a sweater thrown on if it’s cold. Toss a “real” event like a wedding or baby shower at me, and I’m always at a loss — which leads to “panic shopping” and frankly some poor choices. 🙂

      My mom sewed outfits for me too! In fact, she helped me sew my wedding dress (read, she sewed all the tricky parts and I cheered her on!). I now feel her pain though — because growing up, I would talk to her about my “vision” for a dress, which we couldn’t find any pattern for. I can’t tell you the number of times she had to make it up on the fly. My daughter E now does the same thing to me. 🙂

      • Oh! so nice that your mom helped with the sewing (or sew) of your wedding dress! 😉 something beautiful to share with your mom! I remember the summer before my 5th grade; I wanted a “minnie mouse” sweater (don’t know why?) my mom finally found something, she sew it, I wore it for “picture day” but I didn’t like it, it wasn’t what I wanted! Now, that I’m a mom, I’m sure my mom must’ve felt really bad about my reaction. As kids we can be so difficult without realizing we are and now with our own, we will go through the same things! 🙂

  10. It is a gorgeous dress:)I trust she enjoyed wearing it:) I find it so difficult to visualise a piece of fabric made into an item of clothing that I can’t remember the last time I sewed a garment:)

    • Thanks! She really did like it (and liked that it twirled when she wanted it to), but my girl is ready to ditch the sweater and wear it in warmer weather with her sneakers!

      I dream up the whole outfit and then get annoyed when I can’t find it in the store or can’t find even the material to make it! I recognize this is a problem solely of my own making 🙂 — I know I should just see what’s out there and then make a decision on that, but I can’t. Like now — I’m thinking I should make myself an outfit for the other things we’ve got going on this month. I’ve got it in my brain that I want an A-line skirt (navy with small white polka dots) that flares out to just below my knee, with a sash that would wrap around my waist. I’d like to pair it with a white tailored shirt that isn’t completely see-through. And of course, I can’t find either item or the material to make it. So I’m going to toss my stash and see what floats to the top.

      I sure don’t get this frustrated when I’m sewing stuff for the house. Lego duvets don’t give me that much static! 🙂

      • A line skirts are gorgeous;) new telly program last night in UK called the Great British Sewing Bee setting eight sewers various challenges, the first one being to make an A line skirt with invisible zip. I really cannot do invisible zips!!

      • Wonder if I could find that program in the States on Hulu or somewhere. Sounds fun and right up this alley of my latest obsession.

        I know what you mean about putting in an invisible zipper — it’s only “invisible” if it’s done right, and mine never are. Funny you mention the invisible zips — I just signed up for a free online class at Craftsy.com called “Mastering Zipper Techniques.” I love those Craftsy classes and I’m hoping this one with demystify why my zippers always look a little wonky. 🙂

      • Course on Craftsy sounds great, will have to look it up:)

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