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July 9

Striped Sun Dress for little Audrey

My sister, Patricia is in town this week from GA and on short notice she decided to throw Audrey her 4th b-day party on Sunday evening.   

I’ve never sewn for anyone else, ever!  But on a whim, I decided that I wanted to make a cute little dress for Audrey.

This is my youngest niece, Audrey.  She just turned 4.

One of the gifts she received was princess band aids which she promptly tore open and put on her chin. 

I had this striped cotton fabric (from Ikea) in my stash for quite some time.  I don’t have a ton of prints or kid-like fabrics but this one fit the bill perfectly and I love these bright colors on her.

 

I wanted to make a dress, but since I was short on time, it had to be super easy (yet cute).  I did some mega searching on Craft’s blog but ultimately settled on a tutorial I saw on Sew Mama Sew by J Casa*handmadeDirect tutorial dress (pdf) pattern here.

The long and short of the directions: Cut 1 large rectangle of fabric for the body and another for the straps.  The straps get folded and top stitched and the dress gets many rows of shirring using elastic thread in the bobbin to scrunch things up nicely.  Assemble, hem and you’re done!  What’s great about this pattern is that (theoretically) it can grow with your child transitioning from a dress to a tunic or top due to the elastic shirring.

Bodice Detail:

I love how the white stripe nearly falls at the waist!  I oriented my cutting based on the red and pink stripes on the bodice, but having that white line fall perfectly at the waist was wonderful, dumb luck.  :)

Inside bodice detail, back:

This dress only has 1 seam line which is positioned at the center back.  The seaming happens after doing the shirring.  As a result, it made serging the shirred area quite tricky.  If I were to make this again, I would be serging the seam allowances first.

Strap detail:

The top of the bodice isn’t bias binding but it’s just the top of the fabric folded over twice.  Since my fabric was stripped, the top red stripe acts as a seam binding.  I put in two lines of stitching here to help with daily wear and tear (and washing wear and tear) on the dress.

Little girls (well most girls of all ages, really) like pretty dresses.  Audrey was happy to receive her dress, but knowing candy is one of the best gifts for kids, I stuffed a few treats into the pockets. 

I gave her pop rocks and some gummy bears…. which were a big hit!

 Fitting the dress:

Until I was tieing the straps of the dress on Audrey, I had no idea if it was going to fit her or not.  Length nor width!  heh  Luckily the dress fit perfectly, but it could have stood to be hemmed a bit shorter.  But at least she’ll get some good use out of it as she’ll most likely get a lot taller.

Happy Birthday little Miss Audrey! 

Update:  Felix has more images of Audrey and the rest of the fam/party on his site here  if you care to take a look. 

  1. Sew Little Time / Jul 9 2012

    aaww, pretty dress for a beautiful girl!

  2. Qui Pardue / Jul 9 2012

    really darling dress, it looks wonderful on her.

    • Liz / Jul 10 2012

      Thanks Qui & Sew Little Time! :)

  3. Ginger / Jul 9 2012

    Gosh, how cute is Audrey?! I love this dress, too– it’s so bright and sweet!

    • Liz / Jul 10 2012

      She’s really cute isn’t she?!

  4. Rachel / Jul 9 2012

    Fabulous :) My mum used to make me dresses like that! Was she excited to get it? I remember hovering over my mum’s sewing machine waiting for my dresses- and my daughter hovers over mine too LOL

    • Liz / Jul 10 2012

      When she opened her box she exclaimed “A pretty new dress!”. Apparently she’s a girly girl who likes her princesses and dresses. :)

  5. Tasha / Jul 9 2012

    How adorable, Audrey and the dress. Now here’s something funny– in 2009 I sewed my niece a dress that was so similar (I think it was the 1st thing I had sewn in years, so not as well executed as yours), and it’s the only thing I’ve really sewn for anyone else either. lol http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2492/3734076414_c2622ef418.jpg

    • Liz / Jul 10 2012

      It’s sooo close! I was debating doing the shirring all the way up just like yours but stuck with the tutorial.

      Do you remember if you used elastic on just the bobbin or on both sides? I only did elastic on the underside, but I’m now wondering if I shouldn’t have done both sides…

  6. Jo / Jul 9 2012

    How nice of you to sew up a gift! It’s so cute, what a perfect fabric for a young girl! :)

  7. Donna / Jul 9 2012

    The dress turned out adorable and she looked so cute in it. It will be a special dress that was made out of a dress of yours!!

  8. Elise / Jul 9 2012

    Awesome dress, its so pretty! :)

  9. Meg / Jul 10 2012

    Well done!! It looks fabulous on her, and thanks for sharing that pattern. I have to make a dress for Rob’s niece and she is growing like a weed. I think I might need to learn elastic shirring asap! Any tips for someone who is deathly afraid of elastic shirring???

    The dress is adorable – love the white stripe at the waist! Happy birthday to her!

    • Liz / Jul 10 2012

      Hey lady! There’s absolutely nothing to elastic shirring! This was my first ever project using it and it was a cinch. You made a swimsuit so you can totally rock elastic shirring! :)

      I do have 2 tips for you in any case…

      1.) Make sure to hand wind your bobbin with the elastic thread without pulling it taught. You have to keep it nice and even (ie loose) so the elastic doesn’t stretch in the bobbin.

      2.) When you’re stitching at your machine, don’t be afraid to pull your work to stretch the shirring. When you hover an iron over it after stitching it all up, it will scrunch back up. (This works well alongside tip #4.)

      3.) Serge or finish your seams before shirring.

      4.) Don’t rush, and stitch the rows of shirring kind-of slow-ish. You want to make sure you stitch in a straight line and giving the machine (ie feed dogs) time to stitch the flat fabric. If you go too fast, you’ll end up sewing over ripples created from the previous row’s shirring line.

      So I totally lied and came up with 4 tips instead of the stated 2. Ahh well… It’s super easy to use elastic thread. Just go slow-ish and wind your bobbin loosely and you’ll be all good.

      You could always do a test square if you’re feeling nervous about it.

  10. Andrea / Jul 10 2012

    I love seeing others’ handmade presents for their little nieces, since I have a baby niece of my own. I need the motivation to sew her something, and I think this’ll do it. Such a cute dress!

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