My beautiful niece was getting married. My children were seeing family members they hadn’t seen for awhile, and I wanted to get them nice dresses that were age appropriate. I have a serious hangup about dressing young girls like teenagers.
I thought I was so slick ordering dresses on clearance online from a very well known (and respected) department store. When the dresses arrived, what I had were cheaply made, ill fitted dresses that the children didn’t want to wear because, “It feels scratchy!” The dresses made a quick return to the store.
I broke out my sewing machine and headed to the fabric store. I searched for what I thought represented my children and dresses that might be appropriate for a wedding. Lucky for me, a 100% cotton linen fabric was on sale with purple flowers, and an unusual fabric that had several patterns of pink with a lace in between was also on sale.
However, there was a problem. The dresses would be completely see through. I decided to purchase a thin, white muslin for underneath to make a lining. It’s inexpensive and would take the place of a slip without annoying the girls.
I found a pattern I liked that ended up being very easy to make. Simplicity 5234 ended up being a great choice. Both of my younger daughters are the same size, but very different people. This pattern gave us the option of creating different dresses that fit their personalities. And, when you have a 9 year old that’s adult size, sometimes, the only way you can find clothes that fit her age group would be to make them. She has outgrown traditional children’s clothes despite the fact that she’s still a “little” kid.
The pattern was true to size (match your child’s measurements up to the measurements of the pattern, and if your child is somewhere in between, opt for the next size up), and I would highly recommend it for people who are not in advanced stages of sewing. There are no zippers, no buttons, and there’s a tie on the back that makes it easy for the dress to fit nicely.
If you bought a fabric that is not see through, there’s no need to line it. If you are nervous about lining the dress, have your child wear a slip. To line the dress, cut the skirt part out of the muslin or other lightweight fabric. Lay it behind the skirt, but cut it shorter than the hemline so that the hem, when folded, covers the bottom part of the lining. You don’t want the lining to be the exact length of the dress because it will bunch up when you fold up the hem. Cutting it shorter so it extends 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch below will allow you to cover the lining with the hem without having thick fabric to sew.
You can baste the lining to the skirt using a long stitch 1/2 inch away from the edges to make putting the dress together less of a hassle.
Just a few notes regarding these dresses:
I used 100% cotton fabrics. Be sure to wash the fabric prior to cutting out the dress. This will assure that the fabric will shrink BEFORE you make the dress and not AFTER.
If you are using fabric with plaid, lines, or patterns, you need to order extra fabric in order to make sure you line things up properly and that your lines or patterns will meet up on the sides. For me, that usually means ordering an extra 1/2 yard. I usually check to see where the pattern pieces are meeting and make sure the lines and patterns match up properly to adjoining pieces. If you ever want to see something NOT matched up properly, go to a local clothing store. They mismatch the lines all the time. It looks terrible.
The ties on the back of the dress are thin. You will need to turn a thinly sewed tie inside out. To do so, my recommendation would be to get a wooden dowel that will assist you in pushing the fabric to be right side out. I confess that I’ve used pencils that weren’t sharpened for this task.
Always make sure you iron seams and press the dress while working on it. Do not eliminate pressing seams as the elimination will lead to sloppy looking work.
I was crazy enough to order shoes for the kids the week before the wedding. I love Land’s End sandals for children. Through the years, I have bought the kids sandals from Land’s End and have appreciated how well they hold up throughout the summer. I already had a pair of sandals for the girls, and knew that I could safely order other pairs for them for the wedding. Even better, Land’s End has a shoe print out that you can put your child’s foot on to be sure you order the right size. The pink sandals came with flowers, but I couldn’t find a white pair for my youngest daughter with flowers. So, I was able to purchase clearance flowers from Michaels Arts and Crafts. I took the plastic out of the satin flowers, sewed the flower petals together in the center, and used faux pearls from my jewelry making supplies to make a pretty flower. I then circled the thread around the sandal upper to attach the flower without damaging the sandal (in case she wants me to take it off later). I was very pleased with the result:
The girls also wanted flowers in their hair. Again, I used clearance flowers. I pulled flowers out that went well with their dresses, and tried different flower scenarios until I found what I liked. Using barrettes that are also found at Michaels Arts and Crafts (and JoAnns as well), I took the plastic pieces out of the flowers, sewed the leaves together with a needle and thread, and used leftover beads for the middle portion of the flower to cover up the hole. Then, I sewed the flowers onto the barrettes to get them placed. After I sewed them and liked the position of the flowers, I used a glue gun to secure the flowers. Use caution so as not to burn yourself or get glue everywhere. You can just dab the glue on since the flowers are already held on with thread.
The girls also wanted a pretty necklace. I had a lot of these pearl beads and thought they would be appropriate with their dresses. I used a .012 in, .30 mm satin silver strand. I made their necklaces 15 inches in length which didn’t include the findings. I actually used a choker I had to create a length for the necklaces because the kids are a lot smaller than me, and it seemed as though it would be a great length for them. The length was perfect. For the pink dress necklace, I used beads all the same size and attached a glass bead I had to the center with a small bead at the bottom. I crimped the findings onto the end. If you have extra beads lying around from previous projects, trying to make a necklace for a child is a lot of fun.
For the purple flower dress, I decided to use all pearl beads. I had tried creating a necklace with glass beads, and it seemed too busy for the dress. The faux pearls were perfect. I alternated smaller sized beads with a larger bead, and the result looked fabulous.
It was great to see family, and the girls felt so pretty (and COMFORTABLE) in their new outfits. The accessories were a plus because I made things using items I already had and items that were on clearance. So, guess which kid is the oldest?
If you thought it was the one on the right, you were wrong. My youngest daughter is 9 years old and is five feet tall…and has her 11 year old sister beat by an inch and a half.