Friday, May 25, 2012

The details

I had so much fun making Caroline's flower girl dress. I loved every bit of the process - planning the design, selecting the lace and fabric, picking out the embroidery pattern, constructing the dress and lace bands, drafting the slip. I took my time with this project and it was well worth the time and effort. I documented some of the process it took to get to the finished dress.

I had been thinking about what kind of dress I wanted to make for almost a year before I made my final decisions. The "problem" with heirloom sewing is that the choices are endless! I bought all of my fabric and laces in January of this year and began work almost immediately. I chose to borrow an out-of-print (vintage, I suppose?) Children's Corner pattern called "Grace". I wanted a pattern that would showcase a lot of embroidery because I love to embroider.

Looking at the lace and experimenting with embroidery design options
Go big or go home. I opted for a more intricate design. I was glad I did.
I used tape, a window, and a water-soluble pen to mark the design on the dress back, front, and sleeves.

Practice equals consistency with embroidery. Here I'm working on my bullion stitches (in green).

Slowly but surely, it's getting done. Sometimes I was sure I was crazy for choosing something with so. much. embroidery. But if I had 5 minutes, I'd sit down and make a few stitches. I brought it with me in carpool line. Most of it got done while watching TV with Kevin.  I couldn't believe it when I took my last stitch. There might have been cheering and a happy dance.
Marking how much to cut (yikes) off the top of the lace edging

Slow and steady is the key to joining lace. I couldn't believe how smoothly this part went. I kept thinking, "I'm doing it! It's working!"

This day I had a little helper who wanted a project of her own. A yarn needle, some thread, and a pack of wooden beads kept her occupied for a very long time.

I also had to make some significant cuts (yikes again) into the sleeves for a strip of embroidered insertion. This sleeve is ready for the gathered lace edging.

Speaking of gathered lace edging, I prefer to attach it by hand.

This is one of the last steps - attaching the lace border to the bottom of the dress. I measured Caroline and marked the dress in January. I mistakenly did not have Caroline try on the dress in May before sewing this band on and cutting the fabric. Caroline had grown almost an inch! Luckily, it didn't look too short. I had some bad dreams about it being too short. Lesson learned.

Almost done! I couldn't wait to soak that blue marker off!

I used the dress pattern to customize a slip for this dress specifically. I finished the arm and neck edges with a tiny hand-sewn French rolled seam.

I chose not to do buttons and buttonholes on the back placket. Instead, I used a vintage Victorian bar pin. It got lost in the graduation craziness. I didn't feel too sad about it because it wasn't expensive, nor was it a family heirloom. I need to get some little beauty pins.

I starched and ironed this thing 4 times before graduation! Kevin said the whole house smelled like starch. That fabric was stiff!

I couldn't be happier with the finished dress. It was a really special moment for me when Caroline put on her dress for the first time. It fit her perfectly (except for the tiny length issue) and I felt like the delicate details of the dress reflected her sweet personality. Caroline was so pleased with it and said she felt like a princess wearing it. I thought she looked absolutely beautiful!
So that's the diary of my first big heirloom sewing project. It sounds crazy, but I'm already looking forward to the next one!


Ashley said...

Oh my goodness, Emilee! The dress is beautiful. -Such an amazing work. That has to feel really good to make something so pretty. And sweet Caroline looks like a little angel. :)

The Wilhite Family said...


Laura Sessions said...

I LOVE the embroidery! Great job!

Confessions said...

i am salivating. your talent is amazing. sweet caroline is beautiful. awesome awesome awesome, emilee!!

Nell said...

Details is right! It's beautiful, Emilee!!

Ireland Family said...

It is so beautiful!! Caroline is such a cutie!