Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Princess VFT "Nora" Dresses

"As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary 
to build character in people"
Joseph B. Wirthlin

I hope my character was built a bit stronger!  This post was a challenge for me to write.  I enjoy writing posts praising designers and patterns and have not written one where I was so disappointed by a pattern before.  However, in the interests of other people who like to sew for little ones, I feel that I need to be honest and perhaps keep someone else from wasting time, energy, and money.

These pretty dresses were fraught with issues for me.  I had such high hopes for surprising three of the little girls I have been sewing for with dresses fit for princesses complete with crowns. I started with some gorgeous fabric with castles, unicorns, stars, and deer and a princess crown panel from Hawthorne Supply Co. and a dress pattern from Violette Fields Threads called "Nora".

The dress style is charming with a square neck and double skirts that are open on the side.  I fell in love with the many sample/tester dresses on the VFT site and purchased it along with several of the other patterns.  (Mind you, I have made three other VFT patterns without issues and loved them. See post HERE for the VFT "Luna" dress I made recently for the Sew Along challenge at Project Run & Play.)  I measured the girls and chose the sizes on the pattern that would be the best fit (or so I thought).  It is unusual to have to add chest measurements and ease measurements to get the right size.  Patterns usually have the ease added in already.  I did as directed and I measured and added the appropriate ease and still ended up with dresses that were too small!!!  I have sewn for little girls for more than 30 years and never disappointed a child like I did with this dress.  It may be user error on my part but this has not happened to me before!

Although tighter than I would like, Harper and Rory were able to get theirs on and wear them for photos.  Harper complained that she had trouble moving her arms.  Rory's fit was better but the wearing time will be short.  Tatum's dress was so tight that getting it on her was tough and the back didn't meet to close!!!  She was nearly in tears.  I felt so badly that I had disappointed her! 

Harper and Rory got to keep their dresses and did wear them a couple of times this summer.
This is Harper's dress.  She adores unicorns!  The panel for the crowns makes two crowns and has a panel for a pillow or something.  I used the panel for Tatum's dress overlay and the crown outline to make her a crown, too.

Fabric:  "Kingdom" house fabric line by Hawthorne Supply Co.  (HERE).

Note the tightness across the chest and arms.  Harper complained that it was uncomfortable to move her arms.

I deviated from the pattern in the construction of the skirt to the bodice so that there were no exposed  seams by sewing the front bodice and overlay skirts together and the under skirt and bodice lining together RST.  I was pleased with this finish and knew that the little girls would like the smoothness against their skin. I also lined the sleeves.  

Pretty butterfly buttons were purchased just for these three dresses.

The sleeves have very little ease and there is no difference between the front and the back at the sleeve cap. The arm hole openings are exactly the same on the front and back bodices, as well.  This causes an ill fitting sleeve and very little ease.  I need to pay attention to this when using other patterns with sleeves from VFT and alter the fit.

This is Rory's dress.  The one that fit the recipient best.  Probably because she is losing her rounder toddler shape now that she is three years old.

I added some length before cutting the skirts because the "Nora" style is a very short one but still needed to add another inch with Swiss edging.

After making these dresses, I went back to the VFT site and checked out the photos of the "Nora" dresses and noticed that nearly all the little girls have their arms down.  Could it be that there were more dress makers with the same issues?

Although she didn't complain, you can see the tightness across the back bodice of Rory's dress as she moves around.

Harper ended up with Tatum's dress.  Although she is two dress sizes smaller than Tatum, this dress fits her.  She wore it to school last week.

The styling is beautiful on this dress but I will not use this pattern again.  I can easily create the dress using pattern blocks that I know fit well.  My reason for purchasing it in the first place was to save myself time in drafting the look.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Project Run & Play Season #17 Sew Along: Inspired by Art

Inspired by 'A Girl With a Watering Can' 

by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The theme for week three of the 17th season of Project Run & Play is "Inspired by Art".  This theme tickled my creative fancies!  Among my most favorite artists are the French Impressionists, particularly Pierre-Auguste Renoir.  I love the brilliant colors and the way he plays with light making his paintings appear to glow and shimmer.  The romance of pretty garden scenes, innocent children, and lovely ladies in many of his works make me relax and smile.

There were so many of his paintings that inspired me that I sketched out about 12 different dresses/outfits.  I finally decided to narrow my design down to what I could make entirely from my stash of fabrics and trims and to make the dress for my 6 year old friend, Tatum.

Inspiration:  The blue dress, wide white lace, flowers in the garden, and pops of red in the painting

Pattern:  "Luna" by Violette Fields Threads, size 6
Fabric & Trims:  Mottled blue cotton (unknown origin), scraps of cotton for appliques, plastic rose buttons, wide white lace purchased at an estate sale several years ago, DMC floss, and red lace hem tape.

Changes made to pattern:
*Omitted pockets
*Inverted box pleat in center skirt to visually divide the lace like the lace is divided on the coat dress the little girl is wearing in the painting.
*Added a bias bound continuous placket in the center back to allow for easier dressing.
*Added a second set of ties at the back waistline.
*Added appliques on the bodice front and right back shoulder to bring in the flowers from the painting.
*Hand sewed the bodice lining down and used French seams for a smooth inside finish.
*Used red lace hem tape on the hem.

I do not have an embroidery machine so all my appliques are hand cut and zigzag satin stitched.  The leaves are three dimensional and the centers of the flowers have a touch of hand embroidery.  

The bound placket was sewn with a piece of red bias to add another little touch of red to the otherwise plain blue of the dress back. 

The dress is sewn perfectly straight.  My poor mannequin has a permanent little tilt.   
 To add a little interest to the back of the dress I appliqued another flower with a 3D leaf.

The red lace on the inside hem is just a little 'happy' for Tatum.  

I plan on adding a better final photo tomorrow when the sun is out again.  (I was racing against the clock again!) I hope you liked my Renoir inspired dress!

For more wonderful art inspired clothes for children, please check out the Project Run & Play site HERE and HERE.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Project Run & Play #17 Sew Along: Willy Wonka!

A Sugar Sweet Dress for Sweet Rory

Here I am being a "Last Minute Lucy" with my entry to Season #17 of Project Run & Play.  I have just about 35 minutes to get this posted to meet the deadline!  

School has started and I have 19 little five year olds in my kindergarten classroom.  It is the time of setting routines and procedures and getting to know one another.  It is one of the most exhausting times of the year!  I have been too tired to sew at night and only got this put together today.  Needless to say, I have no modeled photos of sweet three year old Rory wearing her new dress.  Perhaps next week!

The photos are not the best.  It has been raining since I completed the dress and the colors are just not right.  The closest to the green in the actual dress is in the photo of the caramel apple pocket.

Pattern:  Portabellopixie Petal Knot Dress, size 3 (1/4 inch added to bodice sides for ease)
Fabric:  Green embroidered polycotton (stash), white satin batiste, & old white sheet for skirt lining
Trims:  inherited vintage brown piping, stash scraps for appliques,
 white cotton lace edging (skirt lining)

Inspirations:  1971 version Oompa Loompas:  green hair, 
white & brown outfits, and candy, of course!

The lollypop, candied apple, and wrapped candy appliques are hand cut
 and zigzag satin stitched.  I do not have an embroidery machine. 

However, the caramel apple and the lollypop were copied from images
 on Pinterest of beautiful machine appliques from 

The wrapped candies were inspired by a gorgeous pieced quilt made by Greg Jones using "Sugar Candies" by Nadra Ridgeway.

Changes to the pattern:  
*Piped the bodice
*Piped the hem band
*Added pockets
*Added a skirt lining
*Added fullness to the skirt (72 inches around)

The dress pattern was chosen specifically for Rory because she loves a
Dr. Suess Petal Knot dress I made for her sister that she has inherited.  
She even wore that dress hiking in the mountains this summer!

Lining:  Dress on the right is inside-out.

Must link up now! :)
Please check out the other sew along entries as well as the official contestants for this fun challenge at Project Run & Play!  (HERE and HERE)
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