Step One: Alter entire mind set!
All my life I've thought of sewing as something quite difficult, incredibly frustrating and probably not worth the effort. The basis for this sewing outlook started for me at the tender age of 5 with "The White Dress". Mum decided to make a white pinafore dress for a special occasion when I was about 5. From what I can remember it had a fairly simply bodice, waist band, skirt and a side zipper. While I dont clearly remember the dress in great detail, I can quite clearly remember the frustration and angst it caused Mum, not to mention getting called over every 5 minutes to try the damn thing on (well it felt like every 5 minutes anyway). I dont remember her making any of our clothes after that, the machine only came out for mending.
That was my first experience with home sewing (and it wasnt even me doing the sewing) and its shaped my sewing life. Fortunately as I complete projects I'm finding it easier to shake the ghosts of sewing past and as I do so I've come to find that yes while sewing can be frustrating and sometimes difficult it can also be particularly rewarding and often times far more simple that expected, not to mention you get to hoard incredibly gorgeous fabric. That last one, I'm really good at!!!!
So here goes... step one: alter entire mind set...
When I received my yard of Minny Muu's Tiny Strawberries from Sew, Mama, Sew, Paul was home and the first thing he asked was "so what are you going to do with it?" Now I had every intention of hoarding it away as I do but it doesn't go down too well when you say you are adding it to the stockpile. So I kind of evasively said I didnt really know yet. As it turns out that doesnt go down too well either because he immediately said "why did you buy it then?" (Well derrr dear... although that probably wouldnt have gone down well at all LOL). "Because it was cute" was my reply and cue male eye roll. Anyway, I was determine to make something immediately just so I could say "see, see, I've done something with it".
As I said, I had no idea what I was going to do with it but I knew it was going to have to be something simple to compliment the fabric. A flick through my Japanese pattern book gave me the idea to do simple pleats in the front but I wanted two pleats not just the one pleat dress which is in the book. A flick through my Ottos provided further inspiration in the form of this:
It was exactly what I wanted... well except for the glaringly obvious fact that its a winter dress which lets face it would be absolute overkill in an Australian summer and not really the best way to use such a soft light fabric.
In the past I would have thrown up my hands in despair and gone for the Japanese dress even though it wasnt exactly what I wanted. This time I really thought about what I was doing, similar projects I had done in the past, how the dress was constructed and if it would be possible to alter it the way I wanted. My recent experience with the Button Top and Cherub dress made me realise that I could very easily remove the sleeves and simply line the bodice (which would be a plus considering that the fabric is very light). However the dress in the picture has a zipper and not being confident to do the lining and zipper I decided that the zipper simply had to go. With no zipper in the back I didn't need two separate back pieces for the skirt and so I cut it out as one just like the front. How I was going to keep the whole lot together at the back with no zipper was a complete mystery and it wasnt until I was top stitching that I had my light bulb moment and finally decided to do one simple ribbon at the top to compliment what would eventually be on the front.
Once I had it clear in my head exactly how I was going to construct this it all went together so very easily. In fact, the hardest thing about the whole dress was the agonising decision on whether or not I should add the ric rac trim to the neckline and hem. Fortunately a quick poll at Crafty Mamas and the overwhelming majority voted that ric rac was the way to go.
(Actually I'll amend that, the hardest thing about this whole project was trying to find the red thread to stitch the ric rac on with. I found the bobbin no trouble but it took ages to find the cotton and I knew I had used it to sew on the ribbon at the front and I was determine not to buy another because I knew I had some. Anyway I finally found it... lets just say, dont leave cotton reels out where new kittens might get hold of them otherwise they could end up in a completely different place from where you left them such as oh I dont know in amongst all your shoes in your wardrobe maybe.)
So there we go, more sewing ghosts banished. Its nice to know that I am competent enough to make alterations if necessary and not just tiny alterations either. That just because a pattern says "this is what I am" it doesnt mean that is exactly what it has to be. I'm absolutely thrilled with the way the dress has turned out. Its perfect, exactly what I wanted!!!
PATTERN INSPIRATION: Ottobre 4/2005 Pattern 1 Baby's Dress with modifications (Size 98cm)
FABRIC: Minny Muu Tiny Strawberries Natural from Sew, Mama, Sew
TRIM: Red French Baby Ric Rac from Ribbons Galore