You're interested in sewing, right? I haven't done a post on the subject for ages, and I'm sure you've been missing that. So I've decided to show you the step-by-step process by which I put together three matching flower girl dresses for my middle son's upcoming wedding. These fancy little frocks will be worn by my adorable identical twin granddaughters, Bonnie Babe and Cutie Pie (age two-and-a-half), and the adorable six-year-old daughter of the bride's cousin.
1: Finding a Pattern
When I set out to find a pattern for the dresses, I thought simple would be best (especially since they are going to be worn by some pretty young flower girls, who might have been uncomfortable with too much fussy tulle and netting). I didn't want underskirts, or any material that was too stiff. I imagined an unadorned sleeveless satin dress with an empire waist, finished off with a navy blue satin sash to match the color of the bridesmaid dresses. (And this happened to be exactly what the bride-to-be had been imagining, too.) But most of the patterns I found in the "wedding party" section of the pattern books were extremely complex to make and probably would have been uncomfortable to wear. So I chose this relatively easy-to-make pattern, envisioning it with a few inches added at the bottom to make it tea-length. I liked that it also came with a pattern for a little bolero, because since it's a December wedding, I wanted the dress to have some kind of jacket.
2: Including Some of Mom's Material
I've blogged before about my dear late mother-in-law, a gifted seamstress who collected bolts of fabric the way some people collect coins or stamps. Her attic was filled with boxes and boxes of material, and her head was filled with the many ways she could use it to make life more beautiful. In the years since her death, I have been encouraged by my sisters-in-law to use as much of Mom's precious stash as I want. A while back, I found a couple of yards of some beautiful ivory-colored velveteen, and I put it aside for a rainy day. Once I found this pattern for the flower girl dresses, I knew Mom's velveteen would be perfect for the little boleros. And almost miraculously, it was the exact same shade of ivory as the satin I found at JoAnn's to use for the dresses. So the boleros are special to me, because they make me think of Mom--and they make me wish that she was going to be there to see her great-granddaughters wearing them as they walk down the aisle (or freeze in place, or run crying, or flop on the ground--how will they do with this whole flower girl gig anyway?).
It never ceases to amaze me that flat pieces of fabric can be turned into garments that people can wear. I love the process of making that happen.
3: Cutting and Pinning
Did I say I love the process? Truthfully, I don't love the cutting and pinning, because I'm very impatient and I want to get to the sewing. It's not until those raw-edged pieces of fabric are finally being joined together with a needle and thread that I'm truly happy, because I know I'm getting close to seeing the final product. But cutting and pinning must be done. And with three dresses going at once, there was a lot of that happening on my dining room table.
4: Making Covered Buttons
I had the hardest time deciding what kind of buttons to use on the backs of the dresses. I kind of wanted to use rounded faux-pearl buttons, since this is a Pearl wedding, but I thought they might make it uncomfortable for the girls when they leaned back in their chairs. I was looking for a rather flat button, but couldn't find a style I liked. Then it hit me that buttons covered in the same fabric as the dresses would be a classy way to finish them off, so I picked up some kits for making them. It's really quite easy to do, using little scraps of leftover fabric.
5: Finishing with Hand-Sewing
I actually love it when I get to the part where the finishing touches are done by hand. It's the kind of work I can do while watching television, for one thing. And for another, it means the garment is almost complete!
6: Terrified to Make the Buttonholes
(or: Velcro is My Best Friend)
I have made lots and lots of buttonholes in my life. My machine makes it really easy to do so, and I normally don't hesitate a bit when the time comes to make them. But for some reason, I got a major case of sewer's block with these three dresses, and I couldn't get myself to begin the process. While I've made a lot of buttonholes, I've screwed up or almost screwed up a lot of them, too; and I couldn't bear the idea of ruining these sweet little dresses I'd worked so hard to make by messing up the final step. So I procrastinated...and I stewed...and I tried to think of some other way to have the backs fasten, rather than by buttoning up.
And then on a trip to JoAnn's I found just what I was looking for: iron-on Velcro strips made specifically for use in garments. Huzzah! It worked like a charm, and after those magical strips were ironed in place, I added the covered buttons to make it look as though the dresses have traditional button-up backs.
No one will be the wiser! Is Velcro amazing or what?
7: Finally, the Finished Product
Okay, if you're still reading this, thanks. And now here they are: three matching flower girl dresses. TA-DA! They were made with love, as well as blood (literally--I did poke myself with a needle a few times, and these dresses have already been spot-cleaned), sweat, and tears. But I think the project was a success.
I just realized how crazy this whole blogging business makes a gal. Because when I was working on these dresses, more than a month ago, I took pictures along the way--just in case I needed them down the road. We bloggers are always thinking, "Hmmm...maybe this is something I can blog about someday." Aren't we? Or is that just me?
I don't know why I spent 7 whole Takes this Friday, boring you with the details of this sewing project. In fact, I believe I already posted a couple of pictures of these dresses on this blog not too long ago, now that I think of it. But they are cute, aren't they? And there is something extra-special about handmade dresses, in my humble opinion, even when they aren't as polished and perfect as professionally-made ones. I can hardly wait to see them on the three little girls who will be wearing them on my son's wedding day.
Okay then, that's the end of sewing class. You are dismissed! There are better blogs, and better Takes, over at Conversion Diary, if you want to click on over that way.