Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunflower Wedding: Flower Girl Dress

  This was my second-largest project for my sister-in-love's wedding.

  No, not the little girl (although I sort of made her too!), the dress she is wearing! I initially planned on making something like the Oliver+S Garden Party dress, but with different sleeves, in satin and chiffon, and longer.... but I changed my mind. =)

  I decided on a simple bodice with a scalloped neckline:

 a layered circle skirt:

  A wide sash with ruched sides:

  And sheer sleeves with circular flounces:

  I drafted the pattern myself, using Illustrator for the first time to do it, thanks to Pattern Workshop (affiliate link) and all I learned there. There were some parts where I was going, "Seriously, Illustrator?" but they were all due to little things that I'd messed up without realizing it.

 It went a LOT faster than my pattern drafting normally does! I made a muslin, altered a few things in the program, and made a second muslin before I was satisfied, and it still took less time than normal.

  I used satin and chiffon from the Casa Collection at Joann's (online) in Calypso color, which is a dark coral (the photos with it laid out flat are closest to the actual color), for this dress.

  I bought a couple different zippers at Joann's too, but neither really matched- one was too red, the other too pink. I ended up with an invisible zipper from that was perfect. (Color was 517, 12" length.) The zipper tape on each side of a YKK invisible zipper is about 3/8" wide instead of the usual 1/2" that I'm used to from Coat's and Clark, but it wasn't a big deal.

  I sewed the bodice and sleeves using my tutorial, but left the back completely open for the zipper... then I tried in on Booper. It fit perfectly!

 Next I added the sleeve flounces, which was an absolute pain and I'm never doing it that way again on that small of a sleeve with that kind of fabric. I also spent several hours figuring out how to finish the flounce hems, since chiffon frays like crazy but I wanted something light. I tried a two-seam rolled hem... it was awful. I tried a narrow rolled hem with my sewing machine foot... I could get it to roll right on the straight areas. I tried just rolling the hem and sewing it as I rolled... awful. Finally I just took out my woodburning tool and burned the outer edge so it wouldn't fray. It was really difficult to get a smooth curve without beading or blackness, but I did it.

  Then I hemmed the skirt with a machine narrow rolled hem and added it to the bodice. The chiffon layer is another thing I would change... chiffon has a lot of stretch on the bias, and I should have hung the dress up with the skirt attached and trimmed the chiffon to match the satin before hemming it. It's a little longer in spots, although when I finished this dress I just thought it was because the chiffon squirrels around when you try to cut it... I found out about the stretch later. Since the back was open, I sewed the skirt to the front layer only, then folded the lining around the hem of the skirt and sewed it to the outer and skirt, leaving 3-4 inches unsewn near the back seam. 

  The next step was trying it on Booper again, just to see how it looked. Only there was a problem... I couldn't get her arm in the sleeves! I still don't know what happened... if I cut them wrong, sewed them wrong, or if she just grew. It was about 3 days after the first fitting, where they had been fine. So I cut the beautifully-finished sleeves out of the seam and drafted some wider ones with a shorter cap. They do pull a little toward the shoulder, but I think the only way to fix that without adding gathering would have been to lower the armscye a little. This time I left a seam allowance in the sleeve flounces and sewed them on flat, then seamed them and the underarm seam together. I still had to go with the burning method of finishing them though... this time on the sleeve cap too.

  Since the bodice was already finished, I didn't want to pull it all apart to put new sleeves in, so I carefully hand-stitched them to just the lining, then did a tiny whip-stitch over the edge and to the lining to keep the seam allowance from peeking out.

  From there on things were easier... I sewed a sash and attached it at one of the back sides of the bodice, added the invisible zipper, French seamed the two layers of skirt, and sewed the final few inches of narrow rolled hems. Then I finished the sash, tacked it down under the bow at the other side of the back bodice, and tacked/ruched the sides of it to the dress.

  It's not a true bow... I didn't want it coming undone during the ceremony, so I halfway followed this tutorial for adding a child-proof bow. I put the tail piece in front of the bow loops, but I wish I'd put it in the back like she did, it's much cuter that way. And finally it was finished!

  I also made the sunflower crown Booper is wearing in these photos, out of paper with my Silhouette! =)

  I used plain yellow, brown, and dark green cardstock, this cut file, some tacky glue, and floral wire and tape. Oh, and I sprayed it with Rustoleum clear crystal enamel in case Booper got it wet... which is always likely with a little girl of 4.

  I love how it turned out. =)

  The petals did get a little damaged after she dropped it about 8 times, but for the most part it's still in good shape. I pinned it to her hair during the wedding but it didn't really stay put.

  I planned on making dresses for the littler girls too, in yellow and blue to match the other wedding colors, but I ran out of time and just made skirts, which I will show you in another post.

  Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. Please excuse the grainy/blurry/dark photos in this post... my camera doesn't love dark rooms.


  1. I am so amazed that you made that. I worked with chiffon once. To make a prom purse. I said a lot of bad words. You've got some patience!! I think the little scalloped neckline is my favorite. And the twirly skirt. And the sunflower headpiece.

    1. I know, isn't it AWFUL? I love the way it looks but it's a pain to sew! I said a lot of faux bad words like 'crud!' Thank you! I feel the same about the favorites. =)

  2. I love the colors for this wedding and all the beautiful things you made for it. You must have the patience of a saint to work with such slippery fabrics, make two more skirts for the littlest ones and make/remake the cake. Wow! I bow to you! The flower girl dress is just lovely. I love the sleeves and that adorable sunflower crown. I love little girls with flowers in their hair! My niece wore a real flower crowns of roses and baby's breath when she was the flower girl at our wedding and my daughter wore one of roses and baby's breath for her first communion.

    1. They aren't colors I would have thought to pick, but my sweet sister-in-love is an artist and knows what goes together... I love how they worked together as well. =) I wish I did have a saint's patience. There were many times where I became so frustrated I wanted to quit entirely, but I just had to take a few deep breaths and remember WHY I was making those things- and sometimes take a short break with a cup of tea. =) I love flowers in hair too! I wish more flowers grew around here so my daughters (and I) could wear them all of the time. =) Those flower crowns must have been beautiful!

  3. It turned out gorgeous! Chiffon can be a tricky beast but the results are so pretty. It's a beautiful dress and I'm glad you linked it up on skirtfixation so we could see!

    1. Thank you! It was much more finicky than the thick, stiff fabrics I'm used to, but I love the way it drapes. I really love how this dress turned out, I just wish I had better photos of it! (Story of my life.) Thank you! =)

  4. Beautitful!! I'm in love with the neckline, although the flounce sleeves add such a neat dimension to it as well...

    1. Thank you! The neckline idea was the inspiration for the whole dress... I was originally planning on using the Oliver + S Garden Party dress. =) I still want to make that one, but I'm happy I chose a different direction for this dress.

  5. Adorable! The wide sash and the beautiful sleeves are so sweet! Thanks for linking up over at Skirtfixation!

    1. Thank you! I adore sleeve flounces.... I have another shirt for me in the planning stage right now that has sleeve flounces. =)