Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunday Stitches: Corduroy and Tulle

Sundays are a big deal. We know this. But I want my family to see it. To celebrate it. I've been mulling over ways I can emphasize the special, wonderful First Day of the week and my thoughts (of course) came to sewing. I decided to sew each of my girls a special Sunday Dress of their own.

With three girls five and younger, my first thought for Sunday dressing is practical, not pretty. Can it survive the snack in Sunday school and our pizza-and-play after church family tradition? Can I change a diaper in under two minutes? Most of their church clothes as dual use-- worn with sparkly shoes on Sunday and with scuffed sneakers on Monday. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But my new sewing goal, over the next few weeks, will be to make each of the girls something different. Something a little more special. A little fancier. Clothes for my girls to wear when they worship, clothes to remind them that they are unique and lovely daughters of a King. Twirling optional.

I know we're not scoring fashion points with our Father on Sunday morning.
The idea of "dressing up" for church is a bit stuffy for our jeans-and-t-shirt culture, but I'd like to offer in its place the idea of dressing deliberately. To use our clothes as a visible sign of the invisible reality that we are meeting our God. Our Hope, our Redeemer, our King! We should select clothes that emphasize not the stuffiness of starched shirts and itchy lace but the specialness of something Not Ordinary. This isn't a dress my daughter will wear to dig in her dirt pile or go to Wal-mart. It's a dress with a purpose, and that purpose is to worship her Creator in her own tiny two-year old way. When I sew with that in mind, the domestic act becomes deliberate worship. One tiny way I can help my young ladies learn to rejoice in Sunday, and one way I can refresh my heart to rejoice with them.

With that in mind, I started sewing. I thought I'd make Ember a skirt out of some deep purple corduroy I'd found on sale. And throw in a tulle ruffle for fun. I love the idea of the folksy corduroy against the frilly tulle. What followed was, perhaps, a comedy of errors. Sorry I don't have more pictures to prove what a crazy process this was. You'll have to take my word for it.

I cut what should have been a basic two-tiered ruffle skirt, the second tiering lined with cotton that ended in peek-a-boo gathered tulle. And yes, I blame baby brain for the fact that I cut the fabric wrong and ended up with something more like a strapless dress. I thought I'd throw straps or cap sleeves on it and whip out a cute shrug.

Cue the inspiration. Owly Baby offers a super-sweet baby shrug pattern that I thought I'd up-size for Ember. After a minor (cough) pattern cutting error I ditched the idea of a matching corduroy shrug and decided to use some black cotton knit from my stash. Then decided again that rather than a shrug I'd use the pattern as the upper part of the bodice and cover both cozy and cute all at once. The knit bodice was slightly smaller than the corduroy so I did a little snipping. Okay, more than a little. After extracting Ember from the results, I decided to try it on River. The dress must have wanted to be hers all along. After a few tweaks, some hemming and neckline finishing, and chasing her down for a final fitting, we had a finished garment! Though I did break a needle trying to sew on the bow.

This was the rare still moment...

...followed by bouncing, which means the dress must be comfortable enough for her. 

And the grin! We have a winner! 

Pardon the poor quality. By now the baby was crying so photo time was over.

I wouldn't exactly call this next part a tutorial....more like design notes. A guide for someone to follow should they like this look and want one for their little girl.

The corduroy part was constructed from simple rectangles. The top corduroy panel on this dress is 4" x 23" and the gathered panel is 12"x38". Those are the finished measurements. For your pattern pieces you'll want to add extra for seam allowances and hems.

The bodice, as I mentioned, is based off Owly Baby's shrug. All awesomeness goes to her...I just tweaked it for my own use. I used her sleeves, and I used the back piece of her shrug to cut my front and back bodice. I cut my pieces just a bit larger than her template so that it would fit my corduroy panel.

Once I'd completed the bodice, I simply attached it to the skirt then finished my neckline and sleeve hems. The bow was from one of the girls' rejected hairbands and was quite stubborn. I broke an embroidery needle and a machine needle before reaching for the hot glue gun. Maybe I got enough stitches in before the needle broke so that it will hold if the glue washes out in the wash.

You can learn how to make your own bow here via Sutton Grace's free tutorial.

Another great ideas for embellishment would be a fabric flower. Hop on over to Tip Nut for a list of over thirty different kinds. Have fun :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The dress turned out great, and it certainly seems to delight the occupant. I applaud your efforts to make Sunday an extra-special day.