Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The "Patisserie" Dress

So around the beginning of the year, a friend posted on her FB page that she would hand make something for the first 5 people who commented on her post, and the catch was that you had to repost the offer. I commented because my friend, Christine, is always a crafty person and is also an amazing photographer. When we were in college she did pressed flowers for a bunch of us who were close friends with her and I still have mine, framed, in my sewing room.

When I reposted, I got replies from 4 friends quite quickly but was surprised that I didn't hear from my friend, Lindsey, since she's a fan of my sewing work. I made a baby quilt for her younger daughter last summer and she loves it. When I saw that she hadn't replied to the post about a free handmade something, I messaged her to see if she'd seen it. She hadn't, but she jumped at the chance and when I asked if she wanted something for the baby, she said that the quilt was enough but could I make something for her older daughter, BB, who is my Gwyneth's good friend. BB is a girly girl and I immediately started thinking about dresses - something she could wear in the summer but also in spring and fall with maybe a shirt underneath. I showed her the Feliz dress in the SCKL book and she loved it.  BB's favorite colors are pink and purple so I poked around on the Fashion Fabrics Club website to see what was available and came up with a pastel plaid chambray, a purple chambray, a pink striped shirting and some coordinating voiles. But when the fabrics came, I stopped being so enthusiastic about them. Normally I use some kind of a print as the main fabric and I'd planned to use the plaid as the lower ruffle on the under-dress, as well as some of the ruffles on the back and make the body of the under-dress from the striped pink shirting. I stopped liking that and decided that the way to go was with the plaid as the body of the under-dress. But then I started thinking about needing a smaller print to tie everything together - the plaid is good but bigger than I'd anticipated. I dug through my stash and somehow came up with a 1-yd. piece of pink abstract print of dots/egg shapes that had all the colors from the other fabrics. I can use this for the sash and as one of the ruffle fabrics. The purple chambray is the over-dress. But how to tie it all together?

The most famous French macarons. These colors inspired the theme of the dress.

BB is interested in all things French and I thought that the perfect way to embellish the plain fabric of the  over-dress was to embroider it. Suddenly a lightbulb came on for me - Huups.de has an embroidery set called 'Bonjour Paris', of a French girl with her dog, an Eiffel Tower, a pastry shop and the phrase "Paris, Je t'aime" (I love you, Paris).  And it's done by my favorite embroidery designer, Nic, of Luzia Pimpinella. If I changed up the color scheme from the original design of the embroidery to go with the dress colors, I could make a whole scene of the girl going to the pastry shop. Okay, technically the shop says 'confiserie', which means 'confectionary' and really refers to a place that makes desserts of various kinds (cakes, pastries, tartes, chocolates, ice cream) and not just a pastry shop. But, if you add some ribbons with cakes, cupcakes and ice cream cones in those same tones of French macarons and you get a pastry shop dress! So now I'm inspired. And also, hungry. However, the macarons can wait.

So the end product:

As you can see, the apron/overdress is the focal point. I wanted the "Paris, Je t'aime" to stand out so that the theme would be kind of obvious, so I went with a lighter color. White seemed too stark, hence the light pink. And the jade green for the Eiffel Tower letter 'A' is a good way to introduce that color, plus it links to the straps; I was afraid that doing the straps in the green would look odd but they bring a nice bit of contrast. And they look adorable with the dark pink rick-rack at the edges - that part reminds me of the lace paper doilies that some pastry shops use.

I wanted to set up the street scene at the bottom in such a way that there was an Eiffel Tower in the background, but I realized that it was going to be too heavy after I finished the pastry shop, simply due to the amount of embroidery on a dress this size. So I moved the Eiffel Tower to the back of one of the side panels, which kind of gives the feel that Paris is all around and ties the theme to the back of the dress.

The back of the dress involved adding ruffles and ribbon - normally not something that is too difficult, just time-consuming. That and with this dress it has to be done before sewing the dress pieces together, so it seems like it's taking forever to finish. Surprisingly, this was more difficult than I anticipated, since I had to figure out how to incorporate the ribbons in a way that made sense and didn't look like I'd just thrown a bunch of ribbon at the dress.

The wide cake ribbon posed a problem due to its width, but I made it work, though I ended up using far less of it than I anticipated. At first I'd thought I would simply serge the raw edges of the ruffles and, after gathering them, sew them so that the serged edge would be under the ruffle, the topstitched so that it wouldn't show. I soon realized that the green voile was far too thin for that and that the plaid ruffles would have been too heavy done that way. Instead, I stitched the ruffles with the raw edges facing up, then added ribbons on top of the raw edges.
This not only serves as a way to finish/conceal the raw edge but also adds a nice surprise underneath. That's what I did with the cake ribbon, though I only used it on the green ruffles, since using it on all of the ruffles would have been a little too much. Even cakes should be taken in moderation.

To make the other ribbons stand out, I chose the lavender with the ice cream cones for the yellow seersucker ruffles and used the yellow ribbon with the cupcakes on the purple chambray ruffles. You know, contrast colors and all that. The purple chambray is topped with pale pink ribbon and the yellow seersucker got a yellow one, though I wish I'd had a darker pink on hand and maybe a greenish color for the yellow, just to make it more interesting.

I'd contemplated using the multicolored abstract dot print as the bottom ruffle but it seemed to work against the plaid of the dress, so instead I used an embroidered pink voile, very similar in color to the rick-rack that I used on the straps and on the jade green ruffles. 

When I brought the dress to her, BB. immediately tried it on and declared it her new favorite dress, which is always a good feeling. I so enjoy making things for people and it really makes me happy when they like it this much. I made a size 122/128, which is a little roomy on her right now but that means she'll be able to wear it that much longer. When I left her she was still spinning in it every now and then, just to see it twirl.

1 comment:

  1. All your hard work paid off. She loves the dress and loves spinning in it! I might let her wear it out of the house! Who knows!!! You've made this girly girl very happy!