Our oldest tweenage daughter is a proper tomboy – it’s all about tree climbing and books rather than makeup and heels. We had a Christening to go to last week and, as it’s always been a bit difficult trying to find a posh outfit that isn’t too girly, I had to put a good bit of thought into it.
Frills are no good and anything even remotely pink just doesn’t wash with Mia. So I started with the fabric – this FAB geometric viscose has a lovely feel to it and it drapes really well. (It’s from Fabworks Mill Shop should you be tempted.)
The dress was pretty simple to make – no readymade pattern required. REALLY! I thought I’d run through how I made it for you. I have to admit that I didn’t even make my own paper pattern for this part:
For the BODICE, cut a rectangle: WIDTH that is slightly (2 inches) wider than the widest part of the chest or tummy and LENGTH from top of the shoulder to about crotch level. (It’s not critical – you can adjust the length later.) Fold the fabric in half lengthwise so you get a mirror image and cut in a neckline and sleeves – just draw around something that already fits them. Slope the shoulders down slightly.
Sew along the shoulder seams and check it will pull over her head. If it doesn’t – don’t panic – just cut the hole a bit bigger! Sew down the edges and check the arm holes fit ok. If they are too small, just a cut a little bigger. If they are a bit too big – again DON’T PANIC – resew your shoulder seams a bit further down and recut your neck line lower.
You will also need 2 wide strips of fabric approx 23cm x 150cm to form the tiers. With a loose running stitch, gather each of your strips until they are the same length as the width of your bodice rectangle. With right sides together, sew the first one to the bottom of the bodice. This forms the lower tier. At this point you can alter you final length by cutting this tier shorter or longer.
Try the dress on your lucky child and mark where the waist sits. With right sides together, attach the second tier here. Sew up the open sides of your tiers. I then added ribbon to the waist just where the top tier joins the bodice. I also and ran some elastic around the inside of the dress by hand to gather it in a bit – but this isn’t necessary of you like a looser look.
The neck and sleeves I just finished with bias binding made from the remnants of the geometric fabric.
I solved the “what to wear over it” issue with a slightly poshed-up version of a hoodie. Mia feels too old for cute cardigans and is much more at home in trainers and hoodies. So, I used sweatshirt fabric but cropped it shorter that a normal hoodie, more like a bolero. The rounded corners and the silky lining to the hood matching the dress gave it a more stylish look than your usual hoodie.
Here’s the “how to”: The fabric is standard sweatshirt material. This time I would make yourself a paper pattern before you start cutting the fabric. Newspaper or wrapping paper is fine to use. Cut around the body of an existing hoodie that is a good fit – you need a back panel and a front panel. Then crop the bottom to make it much shorter – about waist level. I drew around a side plate to make the front curves.
Cut 2 pieces of EACH of the 2 front panels and just one back panel. Then, right sides together, sew the mirror images of the fronts together, turn back out the right way and press to give a really neat finish on the curves. You need this double layer on the front as it flaps open to form lapels as you can see on the picture below. Attach the 2 fronts to the back panel and hem the back section at the bottom.
I also cut round the existing hood – you need 2 of a shape like this one in each fabric. Once in the sweatshirt fabric and again in the silky fabric. You put your 2 hoods right sides together and sew leaving the shoulder join edge open. Zigzag or overlock together along the open edge once the right way out. Attach the hood to the main garment. If you look at how most hoodies are made you will see that this seam is covered over with a pretty contrasting or co-ordinating tape.
The sleeves were very simple. Again I followed the existing hoodie sleeves but cut them off above the elbow – no need for the ribbed cuff this way. Remember that this type of garment is a vey relaxed shape and a perfect fit is not critical. The thick fabric is forgiving and easy to manage and the sloppy shape gives you plenty of room for manoeuvre.
She was thrilled with the dress, and was particularly pleased with the casual style of the hoodie. I think she looks gorgeous – but then, I’m biased.