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Ruffles and Sequins for a Budding Fashionista

One look at this Fabric in all its sparkly splendour and I knew it had to be mine. Or, more accurately, my daughter’s. At the tender age of four, she’s already revelling in the joy of twirling about in a new dress and experimenting with colour and texture. When my little fashionista clapped eyes on the fabric she draped it round herself like some fabulous superhero and proceeded to pirouette around the house!

I wasn’t sure what I would do with this fabric when it arrived having never used anything like it before. To be honest, it scared me a little! With so many layers of ruffles and the sequin embellishment, I was concerned about how well it would wash, cut and sew. I had visions of breaking machine needles, sequins firing off at all angles as I cut out pattern pieces and a washing machine full of sparkly rags.

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. The RaRa jersey sailed through a prewash, so I set about scouring Pinterest and Instagram for some inspiration on how best to showcase such a detailed fabric. I wanted something with limited seams and large pattern pieces so the fabric could speak for itself. The layers of lightweight mesh ruffles create such beautiful movement and drape, it just had to be a dress.

As luck would have it my sewing plans coincided with school disco week, so I set about creating a dress suitable for the occasion. On my daughter’s orders, it needed to come down to her knees and have short sleeves.

Last year I made her a Brindille & Twig Swing Dress using a gorgeous drapey knit and I had a sneaky suspicion it would be the perfect pairing for this ruffle-y wonder.

The pattern couldn’t be easier with one piece for the back, one for the front and a pair of sleeves. 

The fabric was surprisingly easy to cut having no trouble at all cutting through the layers of sequins. The key to this jersey is keeping an eye on which way you lay your pattern pieces. The sequins are on the topside of the ruffles, so cutting your piece upside down would mean they were hidden in the layers. Not difficult to fathom but it did take a bit of second guessing myself to ensure the right direction!The swing shape of this dress creates a wonderful swish in the skirt. Simple construction meant I could fly through it without the instructions which is always a tonic when you have limited time to sew.

After sewing the shoulder seams, I added the sleeves and the same issue of making sure your ruffles are lying in the right direction made me slow down in a step I would normally rush through - I’m horribly impatient when sewing!

After constructing the dress there were a few ruffles around the seams which needed trimming but the effect was really pleasing and it had all the glittery movement that I’d hoped for.

The only issue I had with this fabric was adding a neckband. The pattern suggests using a rib knit or the main fabric for the neckband piece, but I didn’t have any suitable rib knit on hand and I had a feeling this jersey would be a bit of a nightmare to use as a neckband.

In the end, I enlisted my last spontaneous fabric purchase, a Crushed Velour Fabric like this with a glorious sheen. The colour and shine work really well with this fabric and it’s wonderfully stretchy, making for a comfortable neckband.

Unfortunately, my impatience at seeing the finish line in sight crept in and I charged ahead without enough preparation. No surprises then that the resulting neckband was shambolic, with pieces of missed fabric, ruffles caught in stitching and uneven distribution. Lesson learned.

I made myself a brew and went back to it, unpicked all my stitches and started again. Only this time, I used ALL the pins. I pinned the neckband at roughly 1-inch intervals and slowed my sewing right down, making sure that nothing was caught up and the edge I could see was actually the bodice and not a ruffle!

Having successfully managed to fit a neckband to the dress, I decided to skip hemming the sleeves and bottom hem as I felt it would interrupt and distort the drape of the fabric, and as it’s a knit fabric the raw edge should hold up to wear and tear pretty well.

I love the finished dress. It’s subtle but striking and it looks like an extra-twirly version of a 1920s flapper dress which brings me all sorts of joy.

I have a chunk of the fabric left from 1.5m so I’m planning something for myself. This fabric is playful and fun so picking something that will let the drape and movement shine through is the key. I think this would work beautifully as a True Bias Ogden Cami, a simple shift dress or even a Roksi Trio.

My daughter fell head over heels for her dress and stripped out of her school uniform to put it on as soon as she saw it. Even better, she wore it to her school disco declaring proudly that her mummy had made it. Truly, there is nothing better than that.

Thanks for reading,

Kate @kate_relton

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Elizabeth Taylor said:

Where did you purchase the fabric?.It would be perfect for my granddaughter who is five. · 22nd Apr 2019 09:23am