This summer, for her 4H project, the Princess decided to learn to sew and participate in Fashion Review. I, of course, was excited because it was a great excuse to go fabric and pattern shopping with my favorite girl and plan something cute and wonderful. And of course, I'm thrilled that she wants to sew. Oh, and did I mention: Competition?
We had a couple of patterns picked out from stash, but when we got to the store, Simplicity patterns were on sale, and my girl takes after me- she couldn't resist picking something new. She chose this Cynthia Rowley designer pattern:
Now at first glance it looks like a simple shirt dress. Easy enough for a beginner. But a second glance confirmed that there were a lot of details in this pattern: Six darts, pleats, buttons and button holes, side seam zipper, and edge to edge lining. Whew! That is a lot for a beginner's first project. Some changes would have to be made.
I made the muslin and did all the fitting adjustments for the Princess. We started with a size 6 and I did a SBA which removed the bust darts. I then decided that rather than grade up at the waist, we would just eliminate the vertical darts in front and back. That gave her a simple sleeveless bodice to work with. Since she was going to learn how to do an edge to edge lining, I figured that was challenge enough for her.
Since I had changed the waistline with my SBA and dart elimination, I decided that we would do simple gathers on the skirt rather than trying to adjust the pleats. Gathering is a good skill for a beginner to learn, right?
We left out the pockets. I was fully intending to teach her how to add them, but she didn't want them, so who am I to argue.
I went back and forth over adding the zipper or not. I bought one and had it on hand, but the buttons and button holes are fully functioning. I sort of decided for us when she got her skirt pieces sewn together and I forgot about the zipper and had her serge the side seams- Uh Oh! Too late for a zipper. Luckily she has just enough wiggle room to squeeze this on and off over her head with the buttons undone!
And speaking of buttons, look what a great job she did. I even taught her to add a shank. I waffled on that and was just going to have her sew them flat to the fabric, but then I decided I might as well teach her correctly from the beginning so I got a match stick and showed her how to hold it in between the button and the fabric. I am so glad I did because apparently she got some extra points and a nice comment from the judges about it!
The Princess picked out this adorable cotton print from Hobby Lobby. She wanted to have some contrast and something to add interest, so I helped her choose the black and white hexagon fabric. We both love the way they go together. I wish I had a shot of the lining- She did a wonderful job of lining the bodice edge to edge with the hexagons.
We used the muslin to decide on the finished length and the width of the hem band before we cut the fashion fabric. The Princess was adamant that the dress be above the knee. She's wearing it here with leggings, but she modeled it bare legged with black ballet flats in the Fashion Review. It looks cute both ways. We also found some purple leggings that match the birds in the print. I think for school I prefer it with the leggings.
I am so proud of her. She really did great for her first project. She did not place in Fashion Review, but that's okay. We are all ready to compete again next year! And the Princess has decided to enter her dress in our local county fair this fall.
We already have a purse pattern picked out for her next project and yesterday we bought some cute cotton prints and a couple of skirt patterns. She will be helping me to sew up some items for her Back to School wardrobe! I am so excited to have a little partner in the sewing room! Hopefully she will enjoy sewing and decide to continue. I'll be doing all I can to encourage it!