I love the silhouette of a simple shift dress, even more so when worn by little girls who have no curves (apart from their cute pot bellies) to distract from the clean crisp A-line shape.
My preferred closure method is buttons running down the back and when I first set out to make one for Miss V, I struggled to find a pattern that captured the look I was after. I therefore decided to draft my own! It was the first pattern I ever drafted and I was quite pleased with it. I think if you want to start creating your own patterns, childrenswear is probably a good place to start because there aren’t too many issues surrounding the fitting- plus they are small so they are really quick to make up and you won’t waste too much fabric if all goes wrong. In fact, the first draft I made up was using an old shirt that belonged to my bf; I used the existing buttons and placket and cut the dress shape around that and then just bias bound the edges. So the front of the shirt became the back of the dress.
Doesn’t she look cute? (Sighs nostalgically 😩)
I then made several more variations, this time adding self drafted facings, a fold over back button placket and once with flutter sleeves. Here are two of my favourites:
I hadn’t made one in a while and I had a tiny bit of blue plaid wool left over after cutting out a Tilly and the Buttons Francoise dress for myself so I decided to make a winter variation. (Yes, I know it’s March and hopefully it will be warm soon but we are spending two weeks in Argentina this July so I have a second mini winter to sew for.)
Anyway, this latest version needed to be fully lined as the wool is a bit itchy. I’ve never lined a dress before and I’m planning to line my wool dress so this was a good opportunity for a test run. This dress differed from the previous two in two ways. Firstly, I didn’t have enough fabric left to create a fold over placket so I had to cut four strips (two for each side) and attach them kind of like fat bias binding to the centre back edges. I think this is actually the correct way of making a placket but I’ve never made one or researched properly how it’s done. In this case it made it easier to line the dress as the last open edge was the centre back seam so I was able to tuck the lining under the placket and top stitch it shut encasing all raw seams on the inside- yay! Secondly, instead of buttons I used Prym Colour snaps. I’ve coveted these for a while now but knew that if I got them I would also need to invest in the Vario plyers to be able to insert them so I wanted to wait until I actually needed them rather than just buying them to add to my stash. It did take me a while to get the hang of inserting them but it was definitely worth it especially since now I have the plyers new snaps are a bargain at under £3 for around 50. I’m already planning my next pastel coloured projects!
So, after much ado, here is the finished dress:
Unfortunately, when I tried to get Little V to try it on she had a bit of meltdown and wanted to throw the dress away.
The perks of sewing for a toddler hey?