Every now and then I spot a pretty pattern or fabric ideal for a garment and forget how much I dislike dressmaking and decide to give it a try again. This month I saw the gorgeous Frost Fairies Fabric print on the Minerva Craft website and knew it would make a beautiful little girl’s dress. My best friend has a toddler so I decided to sew the dress for her as a Christmas present. I picked the Simplicity 6441 Sewing Pattern as it looked like it would show the print off well.

I opened up the pattern and then remembered why I always find dressmaking stressful. The patterns, especially ones like this which feature multiple garments in one set of instructions, always confuse me. I’m very much a visual learner, preferring to work off tutorials like those on my website which have photos for every step and detailed instructions. That’s probably why I include so many photos in my blog posts here too. I find the brief instructions, assumed knowledge and lack of colour photos or diagrams in commercial patterns harder to follow. I read the instructions right through before starting to try and pick out those relevant to the dress I was making (view C).

I started cutting the fabric and was relieved to find that although the fabric is glittery it doesn’t shed glitter. I was expecting it to end up all over.

Because this is quite a large scale print for a smaller dress I decided to fussy cut the fairies on the bodice to make sure there was a full fairy not just random parts of fairies.

I found the instructions for the straps a bit confusing, the diagram in the instructions showed them pointing outwards when you attach them. But when I put the pattern piece over it to check the placement it showed them going inwards. I went with the pattern pieces but it was wrong.

I had to unpick the straps and sew them again the correct way. It occurred to me afterwards it was because the pattern pieces go on the back of the fabric when cutting, and I placed them on the front to check the strap placement.

When it came to adding the collar pieces I realised that because the fairies are quite large I would have to leave them off or it would cover up the fairy on the front.

I have never tried gathering before, and the instructions just say ‘gather the fabric’. So I pulled out a dressmaking book to get the instructions and I’m pleased to report it went well. I have also not made a garment with a lining before, sewn hooks and eyes or made a dress so this project was a lot of firsts for me!

Once you’ve made the bodice, and gathered the skirt the skirt gets inserted into the bodice between the outer fabric and lining at the bottom of the bodice. I found this quite tricky to do as you can’t see the inside and outside of the garment at the same time to make sure it’s correctly positioned but it worked out in the end. Finally, you add the zip to the back and a hook and eye at the top.

I was happy to see that despite the stress it turned out to be a very pretty little dress. Hopefully the recipient will like it, it would make a great party dress. Sorry there’s no photos of her in it but she won’t get it until Christmas and doesn’t live nearby so I couldn’t get her to model it.