Happy new year! Did you all have a good Christmas? I hope you managed to grab some rest in amongst the mayhem and are feeling ready to take on 2015, I know I certainly am. November and December are pretty hectic months for me, Christmas aside everyone I know has a birthday in November. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but with husband and daughter having their birthdays just a few days apart plus two of my besties also enjoying November birthdays within a few days it seems to feel like it’s that way.
I did squeeze in a make of a rather splend dress for Little Plush for her birthday party, have you seen the Peppermint Swirl Dress by Candy Castle Patterns? I saw it quite some time ago and knew immediately it was the perfect special occasion frock, what little girl wouldn’t love to twirl around in a dress like this? Little Plush certainly did!
A special occasion dress it most certainly is, each one of the 14 skirt flounces takes a fat quarter of fabric and the entire dress used around 4.5m of fabric in all, pretty punchy for a toddler sized dress! Each of the skirt flounces is made from two curved pieces of fabric and there just isn’t any way you can get the shape of the skirt and be frugal, there’s a lot of wastage (I prefer to think that my quilt scraps have had a boost) but I think it’s worth it for such a special dress. I’ve seen some beautiful two colour Peppermint Swirl dresses made up but when deciding which colours to use I was automatically drawn to using a rainbow from Robert Kaufman’s Kona cotton, a no brainer as there are 303 colours to choose from. If you wanted to recreate this dress then the shades I used were Geranium for the bodice, Corn Yellow for the ties, Azalea, Kumquat, Lipstick, Parrot and Peacock (plus Geranium & Corn Yellow) in the skirt.
The pattern comes in 12 sizes ranging from 6m to 10 years and it also additionally benefits from both a slim and regular sizes. According to the measurements on the pattern I should have been making up a size 3 slim for Little Plush but I was warned before hand that it came up quite big so I decided to measure out the actual pattern pieces to compare measurements and I made a bit of a boob. I measured very carefully and worked out I should be making up a 2 slim BUT I forgot to take off the seam allowances when I was measuring – doh! The 2 slim fitted but if I’d have put a zip or button closure in she wouldn’t have had much room for birthday cake so I ended up just using a single heart shaped KAM snap fastener at the back at the top of the dress which was cute and worked out fine, especially as the long ties kept it from gaping. A regular size 2 would have been perfect.
I generally hate PDF patterns, all that sticking and cutting tends to confuse me and no matter how well laid out the pattern is I always seem to end up with a small triangle of paper which I can’t work out should be destined for the bin, or is in search of a pattern piece mate, but the pattern was easy to cut out and put together and each size was colour coded. Cutting out the skirt flounces was made easier as I made a template from a couple of sheets of quilter’s plastic template and I was able to cut out 4 flounce parts at once using my lovely 28mm Olfa (I can’t recommend the smaller Olfa enough for cutting round patterns – it saves loads of time and is so easy to manoeuvre around pattern pieces).
The whole pattern was very clearly laid out and the photos and instructions were detailed and easy to follow. It’s billed as suitable for “an adventurous beginner” and without an overlocker/ serger. I’d question both of these points, particularly about the overlocker. Yes it would be possible to sew without one but I wouldn’t recommend it if you are a beginner too. If you’ve got some experience under your belt then I’m sure it’d be fine without an overlocker but you may swear. A lot. (Who am I to stand in your way if you are an overlocker-less beginner?! I fully prepare to stand corrected!)
Essentially when sewing the skirt flounces you are sewing a convex and a concave curve together which like to spiral in opposite directions. It really is one of the strangest things I’ve ever sewn but seeing the skirt come together was magical, I loved it!
I did hem the dress originally with bias tape as I was hoping to get a stiffer, more pronounced wave to the skirt hem when “at rest” but it just didn’t work well, perhaps I had “sewing on the curve fatigue” by that point. I think it would have been better to have used a narrower bias tape then the 25mm I used. I ended up unpicking all 8m of it and finishing with a rolled hem on my overlocker in the end.
Do I love the dress? OhGodYeah! Despite its imperfections which I shall aim to iron out on the next one I think it’s pretty damn awesome. Definitely a proud mummy moment as she twirled and twirled and seeing her face light up with it on was priceless. This dress isn’t a quick make (by toddler dress standards) but I definitely see another on the horizon. I might give the skirt a whirl next which will probably get a bit more wear than the dress.
There is an adult sized version too, I’ve not even looked how much fabric that might take! What do you reckon? Are you tempted to give the Peppermint Swirl dress a go?