Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tea Parlor Easter Dresses

I fell in love with some tie-dyed chiffon georgette at the fabric store this year and fully intended to use it in the Easter dresses. I envisioned classy, sophisticated little outfits that were a) not peasant dresses and b) without ruffles. But I was nursing the baby to sleep one right and I realized how fast my girls were growing up. I thought back to my best-loved Easter dresses and realized the ones I remembered most fondly were not sophisticated. They were huge, poofy, and ruffled. They used pastel floral prints. As a girl I felt they were magical.
My daughters had to have dresses like that at least once before they were too old to feel the same magic. And of course I decided all this barely a week before Easter.

I decided not to make an exact replica of my childhood replica but to take elements that I loved and include them in a more modern pattern. I also chose to make each of my three daughters their own special dress but keep their look unified by using the same type of colors, prints, and shapes. I went for tea-room inspired fabrics and color stories-- mint green, pinks and blues, lavender and white. After browsing Etsy for a shape that reminded me of my much-loved Easter dresses, I found this adorable pattern from FooFoo Threads. It is called the Sugarplum Princess and it features two layered skirts and eight very generous ruffles. I liked the smooth front and shirred back, combined with the easy peasant-style sleeves. My oldest, however, wanted a more moderate number of ruffles so she chose the Josephine dress. Which only had two ruffles. (Is this what Peter felt when he heard that it was Wendy's last night in the nursery?)

I found the patterns easy to follow and love the look of the bodice. One word of caution: they fit close. I would recommend sizing up if you have babies with a bit of tummy. My baby girl has a bit of a belly and she fit the size 3 pattern. My three year old was most comfortable in the size 4.

So, enough talking. Pictures are more fun. Unfortunately my battery died right at the start of my oldest daughter's photo shoot so these are just of the little girls. But there's definitely still plenty of ruffles and girliness to go around.

Ta da!

 Baby girl's dress was by far the most elaborate. It was worth all the gathering to watch her bounce around in the dress. She was clearly loving it.

 The focal print was an awesome mix of damask and large roses that looked exactly like it could have come off the dresses I wore as a girl. I didn't think I was a lavender fan until this fabric....I love the way the coral roses and the darker purple flowers contrast the delicate background color.

I was very careful in my choice of complementary prints. I wanted to stay in the purple family but didn't want the dress to be too busy (I know, strange thing to say of a dress like this that seems to have everything but the kitchen sink). I chose a lavender paisley, a purple and white stripe, and a white-on-white embossed floral fabric for the ruffles and belt. Pretty and sweet but muted enough not to compete with the main floral fabric. 


And the best part of the dress is that she can still run, which would have come in handy at the Easter egg hunt.....had it not been rained out. I'm so happy that I at least have one lady who is too little protest her mommy's love of ruffles. (Though after this dress, I was done with gathering. For a day or so.)

 My middle daughter's dress was the last one I made and I finished it at midnight the night before Easter. I knew when I sat down to start sewing that I didn't have time (or sanity) left to pull off a mess of ruffles so I went in a different direction. 

I'd been hoarding a fat quarter bundle of vintage rose themed prints for almost two years. I never found just the right use for them....until this dress. I chose all the blues, pinks, and reds and cut them into twenty eight long strips, which I sewed together to make the skirt. 

(Yes. It needs pressing. I do promise you though that it was ironed for Easter).
I used some lining and blue broadcloth to make a simple underskirt with a barely peekaboo ruffle. I made the bodice out of the same blue and kept it very simple so that the skirt could be the star.

Once again, I love the shape of the back and sleeves, especially with the shirring. 

She could barely keep from spinning long enough for me to take the picture. 
I bribed her by letting her pick some azaleas, which are usually off limits (lest they be stripped to bark within a day).

....but in the end I caved. A special dress must be spun. 

It was an absolute joy to sew these special dresses for my special girls. 
I loved the opportunity to use cotton fabrics and quilting techniques-- stripwork and mixing prints-- in a special occasion dress. This will definitely be something they can wear again to church. 

 I've sewed my girls special things for wedding parties, birthdays, and Christmas portraits but hands down Easter is my favorite occasion. These dresses, with their tea-parlor charm and ruffles and lovely prints, make me happy every time I look at them. Thanks again to Project Run and Play for suggesting this theme. I can't wait to see what everyone has created.


Maria said...

Lovely dresses. Great color scheme!!!

Karen said...

These dresses are really beautiful! I love the pattern and your interpretation of it. Actually, I am not a fan of shirring with elastic but your design of these dresses has won me over. I am so glad you made these! The girls will adore wearing them all through the summer. I hope you will share your older girl's dress, too.

Karen said...

Thanks so much :) This was an unusual color scheme for me since I don't normally do pastels but I think I will use them more after these dresses. And yes, I do plan to share my oldest daughter's dress once I can charge up my camera and convince her to model again. Thanks for stopping by

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