Click to enlarge.
Back at the beginning of May we had some warm days – it seemed summer was just around the corner. So Kit has got her beach clothes out and now she’s all ready to join the fun just as soon as summer really does arrive.
I put this little outfit together when I was working through Rosie’s doll clothes course. The three patterns came bundled with the course: a sarong (short as here, or long), a crop top, and a sunhat. In making up the garments you practice various skills: sewing curves, top-stitching, inserting elastic and gathering fabric into a seam. I made all three garments from two fat squares.
The sarong was quick and easy to make, and can double as a wrap-around skirt for the summer. A very easy-to-wear garment which dresses up nicely for more formal wear, as I’ll demonstrate in a later post.
The crop top construction was very similar to the bodice on the summer dress I had made before, except that here the bottom edges of the top are turned in and top-stitched to secure them. I feel the top is not quick cropped enough: next time I’ll shorten it slightly to reveal a little midriff – but not too much as Kit’s an old-fashioned girl and feel uncomfortable with too much flesh on show!
Click to enlarge
The real challenge here was the sunhat which needed some careful seaming to achieve the fitted shape. The body of the hat is cut in one piece with four dome-shaped scallops which are stitched together to form the crown of the hat. Then the brim is doubled over and gathered into the edge of the crown. There’s a lot of fullness to gather up, and it’s important to distribute the gathers evenly. I was very glad of Rosie’s video instructions to guide me while I worked on this.
It really is a great little outfit. I love the patterned fabric which combines lots of colours that really suit Kit’s summer colouring: there are so many sweet pea shades here along with a blue-green that picks out the hint of turquoise in her eyes. The dark violet of the crop top contrasts well and is assertive enough to balance the strong pattern on the sarong and sunhat. Kit has teamed up her outfit with her mauve crocs which are manufactured by Gotz. They’re just right with this cheerful summer combo.
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!