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