A Little Lady Liberty Dress!
Posted on Monday the 10th April 2017 by Sew Sarah Smith
Hello again! I'm going to make a confession right off the bat. The making of this dress may well prove to be the start of a new personal obsession. Yes, I’ve documented my love for New Look Pattern 6205 before with a gorgeous pink patchwork Poplin Fabric version over on my own blog...
…but this is the first time I’ve ever worked with a Liberty Fabric. Before getting my hands on this luxurious poplin, I was expecting to concede that, with Liberty fabric, you'd mostly be paying extra for the iconic prints and the Liberty name. I didn't expect there to be a notable difference in the quality. But I was wrong; there is an astonishing difference! This beautiful bright pink floral Liberty Cotton Poplin Fabric with its vivid cerise roses on a softer citrus background, is truly sumptuous! At the risk of sounding ridiculous, it's almost like this fabric wants to be your friend; it is so cooperative! It washes, presses, sews up and feels, to use a well-worn phrase, like a dream.
What can I say, if you were ever on the fence about this fabric, climb down now and get it. (It's on sale!) You can thank me later.
Anyway, *sighs*, moving onto the make itself. My daughter adores a twirly dress! She loves to get muddy, play football and dangle upside down off trees given half a chance; she’d just rather do so whilst wearing a swishy little number! She loved the first dress so much, as soon as she outgrew it, I had to make another. Which she has again outgrown. In fact she's growing at such a phenomenal rate at the moment I decided to cut this dress a little on the big side as I really want her to be able to pack it for our jaunt to New York in the summer. You see, it just had to be a Lady Liberty dress!
Based on her measurements, I graded from a size 6 at the chest to a 7 at the waist and length. I didn't make any further alterations to the pattern except to cut the shoulder straps/sleeves and lining pieces a little off grain, so as to keep the direction of the beautiful print harmoniously in line with that of the bodice. I didn't attempt to pattern match any of the pieces as the print is so busy. Ok, another confession, I wanted to salvage as much of the remaining fabric as I possibly could. (My Pixie Princess and I are going to be pattern testing the Machine Stars Range of Sewing Patterns aimed at children 7+ shortly; she can use the remaining fabric to make her very own wrap around skirt!)
On to construction, the pattern has you line the sleeves first, attach them to the bodice and then sew in the lining at the underarm only. The neckline is finished separately with a strip of bias binding which the patterns calls for you to baste and then topstitch in place but I prefer to slipstitch it to the lining instead. I wasn't that stingy with cutting into this fabric, I did make my own matching bias.
I remember thinking the first time I made this dress, that the process of sewing in the lining felt counter-intuitive and I had to talk myself through it – the aim being to sandwich the already sewn sleeve seams in between the self and lining fabrics. When pinning together it will look like a big mess but bear with it. Just take your time under the needle; stopping with your needle down regularly to adjust and manipulate the fabric layers as you go so that all layers feed through smoothly. I lined the fabric using a Plain White Cotton Poplin Fabric, as I thought it might help to make the colours pop. This is my favourite fabric at the moment for lining.
There are two design elements of this dress that I particularly love. The first is the shoulder straps/sleeves – my daughter is relatively narrow in that area but there's no danger of these slipping off her shoulders. The other is the pleats. The top of the pleats act to elongate the bodice in that the top of the skirt is quite fitted. This means that the pleat stitching comes under quite a bit of stress (think marathon chocolate cake sessions, hanging off trees etc), so I stitched these in using a shorter stitch length and backtack like crazy to make them as robust as I can. You could always bar tack across the bottoms of them too I guess but I don't do that, fearing any slight misalignment will affect their drape.
And happily my Pixie loves her new dress and adores the print. I'm clearly not done with this pattern yet and I’m more than sure that I'm not done with Liberty fabric! Thank you Minerva for sending me the fabrics and for facilitating my new found fixation!
Until next time,