Monday, 7 March 2016

Birthday Dress Part II - Library dress

This blog post was inspired by, and almost completely written by NanouQC at Autant en emporte l'automne back in 2014

If you read French then here's the blog post that I am wholesale plagiarising:  Comme des enfants

If not, then read on, and I'll explain...

I also fell for this fabric back in 2011 when it came out. It is, of course, Children At Play - On Parade, by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller fabrics. I bought maybe 2.5 yards of it, knowing that I would have to compulsively pattern match any seams, then stashed it away and thought too much about how to use it.

Meanwhile two things happened. Firstly I started to completely move away from sewing with quilting cottons. Secondly I saw versions of this fabric everywhere. Like really, everywhere. Some treatments of the dress were nice, others were just too frou frou for me.

And so, I started to look down my nose at this overly girly, childish quilting cotton...

When I saw Nanou's Library dress and read her blog (which I'm now quoting back at you!) I figured I too had to face up to cutting this fabric before my daughter was too grown up to consider wearing it.

I also knew, that while she might not like the Bubble Dress I'd just made, she would love this party dress. We were planning a little surprise birthday party for her, and I figured this would be the dress that she could spill cake on and play in without me getting all uptight!

So, I was given the pattern inspiration on a plate, but of course I had to complicate things...

Firstly, I wanted to cut the skirt as one piece to avoid having to match side seams. Also I cut it as a straight rectangle without the pattern's slightly curved hem. It loses a little bit of it's gentle shape, but it's the only way to treat a border print.

Of course, if there was only going to be one seam, at the back, it would have to be pattern matched:

So, my rectangle skirt was cut to an arbitrary length in order to match the print. That meant I had to increase the depth of each pleat by about 3/8 of an inch. I wrote the maths down, but I forget the exact numbers now.

I couldn't decide between the orange/white spots or the aqua/pink spots for the belt, so without thinking through the consequences I decided to do the bias flat piping in order to use both...

In my head I was going to sew the bodice side seams then attach the skirt. That would have been easy but for the need to have that little bit of flat piping facing down. I muddled through, and while I can hardly describe how, here are a few in progress pictures in case someone else is attempting the same thing (don't would be the best advice!)

The buttons were chosen by A herself when we were in the backrooms of Buttonmania at one of their Monday sale days. Nice and sparkly for a party dress!

The pattern is the Library Dress by Oliver + S. It was my first time sewing this dress and if only I hadn't over complicated it, I'd be able to say it's a delight to sew.

With the exception of the fuller skirt it's basically a straight size 5 and I love the fit and the bodice. Such a gorgeous shaped dress.

Both kids enjoyed looking in detail at the border print and chose their favourite character. Curiously, they both picked the same one; a little red haired girl.

Here somewhere...

There she is!

Since I was so careful to cut my fabric to avoid any seams I'm afraid  I have quite a lot left over. In hindsight I should have just chopped it so that I had seams, matched the print and left nothing behind. Maybe I need to take up quilting, or perhaps just give it away and be done with it.

Apart from not messing with patterns I have learnt my lesson not to be swayed by public enthusiasm for fabrics that really just aren't my thing.

Or maybe not, 'cause she does really like it...

Pattern: Library Dress - Oliver + S
Fabric: Children at Play and quilting cottons to match from GJ's
Buttons: Clear plastic with silver dots  Buttonmania
Size: 5


  1. Given all the fiddling you had to do to make the border print and flat piping work, it turned out well. Totally impressed with the wagon matching on the back seam.

    1. Thanks Deb. You know I couldn't have got away with anything less re the print matching, not my own expectations or perhaps anyone else's!

  2. I love how it came out. But I'm most impressed with the seam matching at the back! That is perfection. Nicely done.

  3. Shelley this is ridiculously cute! I have always loved this print too.

    1. Thanks Katy. It is a perfect, little girl's party dress. i just wished I'd made it while the fabric was fresh as it feels a bit "oh, that fabric again" now.

  4. It is such a dear, sweet dress!! But I know what you mean about falling for a fabric and then having it go stale in the stash because it was never really "you" or because you fell out of love with it. I'm glad you used this, though! Now give away the rest to someone who will love it more than you, and move on! Your flat bias piping origami is totally nuts, btw. I stared at your photos for a while, and I'm not sure I completely get it, but then, I don't know when I would ever NEED to get it. Suffice it to say you are an expert!

    1. :) I guess I'm hoping that by putting the pictures there, should I need to ever talk someone through it I'll be able to work it out from my own images. No guarantees of me ever "getting it" again though either!
      I've got a few "stale" bits of fabric, but none so popular or recognisable as this one. The snob in me instantly falls out of love with anything that hits it's straps popularity wise!

  5. Yes, a fantastic job Shelley.
    If you want to make a quilt you can have my piece too.
    Clever clever work!
    xx N

    1. ha ha. OK, maybe that is the new challenge. Sew up that piece of On Parade that you stashed and just can't think what to do with! I suspect there could be hundreds of us in the same boat!

    2. I know, I *HAD* to have it too....

    3. Same here. I say make pillowcases and be done with it.

  6. It's so cute! That print really did explode didn't it? Love the library dress and you're so clever with your changes. Adorable.

    1. Thanks Kristin. Didn't it just? Of course the Library dress I want to make is probably a blue or grey linen, but there's much less guarantee of that one being worn! :)

  7. I have that same fabric and I had the same thing happen, more or less (well, except I obviously didn't turn it into a library dress). It looks great on her! And that pattern matching is really impressive!

    1. "had" the same thing happen? Past tense? So, did you cut into it? I can't imagine this fabric fitting in with your normal sewing style, but then I'll bet no-one expected this dress from me! Sounds like we need an On Parade support group! :)


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