I started out all wrong with Kit’s first summer dress: I bought the materials before I had the pattern. I had ordered it from Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns, but very untypically there was a delay on delivery (they come by email). While I was waiting I picked out a materials remnant from my local fabric shop. The material was very pretty: a pale grey-green with rosebuds on it, just right for Kit’s colouring. But it was very light and I was afraid it wouldn’t hang well so I invested in some light iron-on interfacing to give it some stiffness. I also bought some pink bias binding for the waistband and the trim around the hem.
When the pattern arrived I discovered that the waistband and hem trim should be made using a contrasting fabric, cut on the straight grain, so my bias binding was not right for the job. Nevertheless I decided to go ahead and work with what I had, telling myself that his first dress would be very much a learning experience. (Little did I realise at that stage that every garment is a learning experience!).
My first lesson was that type of material is critical to success. I had clearly chosen fabric that was too flimsy. The feed dogs on my new sewing machine grabbed the material and ate it every time I began a seam. I lined the fabric with the interfacing and that helped; plus I found that if I started a short distance down the seam and then backed up to the start it seemed to work better. I’m embarrassed to think of this poor technique now, but at the time I was just grateful to find something that worked for me. Now all I had to worry about was the way the material frayed all the time; and the fact that the bias binding wasn’t really stiff enough to act as a waistband – it was fine around the hem, however. A learning experience indeed!
But I was quite pleased with the results, as a first attempt. True, the waistband is not even, but it’s a pretty dress and the interfacing gives the skirt shape and body. Considering it was the first time in 25 years I’d used a sewing machine, and I’d unwittingly done my best to make it as tricky as I could for myself, it really was surprisingly successful.
Kit looks pleased with her first summer dress, which she has accessorised with her pink butterfly Mary Janes by Gotz, and a crystal wheel pendant from Nellie Rose. Her dragonfly hair ornament is a clip designed to hold an orchid flower stem onto its support!