In Sweden we call the last day of school of every grade, graduation. Maybe you do too?
Isabel graduated from 1st grade last week and will have a long summer vacation this year since Rickard and I have taken our vacation weeks overlapping, giving the girls 7 weeks off.
After making the eyelet bordered Playdate dress for Sofia, I went ahead and started planning a graduation dress for Isabel as well.
She’s a bit harder to please these days. She’s very set in her ways on what styles she likes and what colours to match but she sometimes has a hard time verbalising it.
I took her to the fabric store and I think we browsed it for about an hour before we settled on a style and a fabric we were both pleased with.
Not only does the dress have to fill the criteria of being in the right price range. It has to be age appropriate as well as within my range of ability to pull off.
I started by enlarging the patterns slightly. The biggest size is XL and is said to fit a 10/12 frame. Isabel is not yet 8 but she has outgrown most of the Oliver + S size 12 patterns.
So I added a bit of depth to the armscye and some width to the top, I also lengthened it to a dress and marked up for a possible slit in the sides in case the dress would be too slim and hinder her movements.
After that I copied the front and made a back. I also enlarged the top ruffle pattern piece to match the front panel.
I then started thinking about the ruffles and decided I didn’t feel like gathering them. I hate ironing with the heat of a thousand suns and I know I said a lot of bad words when I set out to iron the Ruffled Halter tops I made the girls last year.
So I studied a camisole Isabel had with ruffles that weren’t gathered and with some help from my awesome online friends and my tailor aunt I managed to work out how to construct the ruffles using a flounce instead of a gathered ruffle.
On the original pattern the ruffles are two different depths and widths. I decided to only use one depth and draw the pattern piece wide enough to fit at the bottom and trim as needed higher up.
I copied the largest pattern piece and drew a line on it every 1.5″ starting from the middle, going out to the sides. Then I cut up along each line with my paper scissors, leaving a tiny hinge at the top so it still held together.
Then I drew a centre line on a new piece of paper and taped the centre edge 1/4″ to the right of the centre line. Then I spaced each cut up pattern piece 1/2″ from the previous, almost like a fan.
I made sure to keep the upper edge smooth and taped the heck out of it to keep it all in place.
Then I had a long look at it and decided that maybe 1/2″ wasn’t enough and so I taped the left half of the pattern piece 1/2″ to the left of the centre line and spaced it 1″ apart.
Once that was done I traced the outlines onto the backing paper and cut out my 2 new pattern pieces. I also opted on not placing them on the bias but against a fold on the grain.
I cut out one of each flounce in regular muslin fabric to get a feel for the drape and I decided the 1″ spread was the one to go with.
I suppose I could have cut the pattern piece in smaller increments and spread them even more and that would have been ok too. It’s all a matter of taste.
Once I had decided on my flounce I measured where to place the ruffles on the dress to make sure they would overlap.
The original pattern says to just sew a straight stitch along the bottom edge of each ruffle but I wanted to add a bit more flair to it so I edged each ruffle with some white eyelet lace I had at home.
I serged it in one go, then ironed it over and topstitched it in place. I did the same on the hem edge of the dress itself.
I also serged the upper edge of each ruffle.
Instead of sewing the ruffles wrong side to the right side of the dress, I placed the ruffle and dress right sides together with the ruffle up side down. Then I sewed it on, folded it over, ironed it in place and topstitched.
Since the eyelet fabric frayed easily I didn’t want to have any raw edges.
I didn’t sew any ruffles on the back of the dress. They would just bunch up and wrinkle when she sat on them.
The ruffles are attached in the side seams just like the original pattern says.
My lowest ruffle ended up being a bit longer than the dress itself. I thought it would be a cool feature – but I think the proportions of it were wrong and it ended up looking really weird so I opened up the seams again and cut the ruffle a little on the corners so the sides all lined up. The ruffle is still longer than the dress in the centre but it’s not an issue there.
The dress ended up a bit sheer in the back that wasn’t hidden by any ruffles so the night before graduation I sewed up a pair of white knit Nature Walk pants made into shorts for Isabel to wear underneath. i think they’ll end up being a favourite of hers because they fit well even though it was only a size 12.