Sunday, August 30, 2015

Smocked Baby Dress

  This dress has been in progress for over a month now- and it's finally finished!

  I've been thinking about learning smocking for some time now, and when Frances Suzanne created a series on smocking, I decided it was time to finally try it. I searched for smocked baby dress patterns and quickly found a couple that I liked- the Children's Corner Missy Daygown, and the Amerlane and Amberpetites Infant Snowdrift Pattern. I actually bought both, and I'm glad I did. The Missy pattern has a lot more helpful tips for a first-time smocker, and I used those hints in conjunction with the Snowdrift pattern and the series on Frances Suzanne to figure it all out.

  I don't have a pleater, and I haven't found anyone in my area with one yet either, so I marked dots in a 3/8" grid and pleated by hand using those dots. The marking was probably the most time-consuming part of the whole venture! I would have used iron-on smocking dots, but I wasn't sure how long they would take to ship! Actually smocking it was pretty fun, although my vertical spacing is pretty bad- I think next time I'll pleat half-rows so I have extra quidelines to keep my spacing more even. The bullion rosebuds aren't included in the smocking pattern- instead, it has smocked flowerettes in a few different spots that I left out. This was my first time making bullions too! I wish I'd swapped the yellow row and the upper pink row to bring out the heart shapes in the smocking but otherwise I'm pretty happy with it.

  The materials are basic quilting cottons from JoAnn... the only solids in the color I wanted that weren't mostly polyester. I searched for a good 45 minutes for a tiny stripe or gingham in pink, but there was only one pink gingham, and its quality was abysmal... and then I wandered into the binding section and found the perfect gingham quilt binding! (Although it was pretty expensive- $10 for only 3 yards of binding.) I used that to make tiny piping for around the yoke:

  I also bound the sleeves with it. This is the inside of the dress- I did French seams everywhere and slip-stitched the yoke and sleeve bindings down following the pattern.

  I really wanted to use buttons on this dress, and not snaps- but although I have a buttonholer, I don't have a cam in a size close to the buttons I was using. I didn't want to risk trying to zig-zag them when the dress was so close to being done, so I used it as an opportunity to learn hand-worked buttonholes. My first few aren't so pretty, but the last couple are pretty decent!

  I regret that the only wax I had for my thread was unbleached beeswax- it gave the thread a dingy appearance that really bugs me. Hopefully it will look cleaner after being washed!

  I was planning on doing bullion rosebuds on all of the buttons but decided to only decorate the top two after struggling with them for quite a while. Although I'm thinking now that a good part of the struggle was due to the many layers of fabric in the yoke, and I may go back and add them to the rest of the buttons after all. =)

  The pattern includes directions for smocking the back of the dress as well as the front, but I chose to gather the backs- directions for that are also included. However, if I were to gather again I'd run the gathering stitches after sewing the sleeves in, so I wouldn't have to keep pulling the threads out of the way while sewing! I'm bummed that my iron, which has never spit water, decided this dress would be a fantastic place to start, and it left a big water splotch on the back. I really hope that washes out too. =(

  I used the 11lb size option in the pattern- I would have preferred a smaller size, but this is actually the smallest smocking pattern I've seen yet. I was most of the way through making it and realized just how short and chunky it was going to be! I was already planning on cutting off the included 3-inch hem and doing a Madeira applique hem (another new technique!) but decided when I saw how short it was to keep the length and just do the applique at the bottom. 

  I really, really love the hem! I think it's my favorite part of the whole dress. I forgot about the back button overlap until I'd already sewn it down though, so it doesn't match up there...which is a bummer, but I couldn't think of a good way to fix it at that point. I love how the hem shadows through on the inside of the dress too.

  The yoke embroidery is not included in the pattern, and to be honest I'm not entirely pleased with what I came up with. I drew it out beforehand, but once embroidered it didn't look nearly as cohesive as it did on paper. Next time I would use a different design or leave it off entirely.

  So, in case you were wondering, here's a list of new things I tried for this dress! Smocking, bullions, bullions on buttons and on smocking, micro-piping, hand-worked buttonholes, and Madeira applique. I need more practice on every single one of those, but I'm pretty pleased with my first attempts!

Thanks for stopping by,

20 comments:

  1. THat is pretty awesome. Those were some pretty big "firsts"...

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    1. Thank you! I thought if I was going to put a lot of time into one baby dress, I might as well learn as much as I could from it! =) I just hope she can wear it for a good long while. =)

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  2. The dress is just beautiful, I especially love all those bullions, you did such a good job with them, I would never have guessed that this was your first time to do them.

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    1. Thank you! It was really fun to learn how to do them. =) They were quite a bit easier than I expected on flat fabric, and quite a bit harder than I expected on the buttons and smocking! ;-)

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  3. Wow! That is a beautiful dress. So much work! It's destined to be passed down from generation to generation I'm sure...

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    1. Thank you! I hope so... I'm nervous with my crazy daughters that it will only be worn a couple of times before it's torn or somebody takes a permanent marker to it! I would LOVE to someday see a grandbaby wearing it though!

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  4. Beautiful dress! It is fun to learn new techniques. I use Project Run and Sew to push myself to learn new things just like you.
    Deborah Devine @ Sew Much to Give

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    1. Thank you! It really is! I like having the challenge to inspire me, although I don't participate nearly as often as I wish I could.

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  5. Very beautiful!! I am amazed that this is your first go. Those Frances Suzanne girls are good examples to look to, for sure!

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    1. Thank you! They really are- everything they make is inspiring!

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  6. Are you kidding me? Stop it. That is one of the most adorable dresses I have ever seen! I absolutely love everything bout it!!!!

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    1. Awww, you are the best! Thank you! =)

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  7. I've smocked three dresses & know how much work is involved in doing this. Good job!
    http://xoxograndma.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you! I was pretty surprised at what a small percentage the smocking took of the total time involved... once the fabric was pleated, it only took one evening to smock.

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  8. I love all of the little details! The roses on the yoke and the gingham at the sleeves are my favorite parts. You did an awesome job!!!

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    1. Thank you! I always love detailed sewing- if only I could add handwork to everything I make! =)

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  9. Wow, this dress is a piece of art. Your handwork is amazing, hard to believe it's your first one. You are really really talented!

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    1. Aww, thank you! It's hard for me not to look at it and only see all of the imperfections, so I really appreciate your comment! =)

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  10. Gorgeous! I love the yoke embroidery--it looks cohesive to me! :) I also love the hem--simple, feminine, and yet it adds so much :)

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    1. Thank you! I really love the hem too... it was pretty quick, as far as applique goes! I'll definitely be doing that again at some point. =)

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