Sunday, February 3, 2013

Patchwork Jumper Dress: PASS

When I was pregnant with my son, I was convinced he was a girl. My husband and I picked out a pretty name and I started perusing sewing blogs to see all the adorable skirts and dresses I'd soon be making. Why was I certain? I have no idea. Maybe because girl names are easier to choose than boy names and dresses are easier to sew than pants. At our ultrasound, I had to ask the technician to repeat herself.

In the years since, I've sewn up lots of clothing for my boy. Some items were made from patterns, most from a combination of tutorials and improvising. This fall, my son requested a dress. He provided me with design specs (a drawing of a sleeveless dress labeled "patchwork" on the bodice and "red flowy" on the skirt) and selections from my fabric stash. "A dress?" I thought, "This will be easy."

When will I learn NEVER to say that?

I knew from rainbow birthday shirt experience I'd need to create patchwork fabric for the bodice. After cutting and piecing dozens of 2.5 by 5.5 inch rectangles, I began serging them together. My respect for my mom and mother-in-law, both avid quilters, grew exponentially during this stage. I'm sure they have methods for sewing the pieces together in an orderly fashion, instead of making seams and then ripping them out in order to fit in the next piece. They are also smart enough not to use the most ravel-prone fabric in their stash. (Curse you, shocking pink polyester!)

Next was the question of how to correctly measure and assemble the dress. I used tutorials from Made and Crafting in my Closet! for inspiration and then went on to screw it up in three major ways:

  1. I cut the bodice piece on the wrong side of my ruler, shortening it by two inches. I had to add an extension between the bodice and skirt, or risk the dress being outgrown in less time than I took to make it.
  2. I went to the trouble of making a fully-lined bodice for a clean finish, only to have it twist endlessly like a Mobius strip when I tried to turn it right side out.
  3. I didn't make the bodice large enough to insert a closure (and refused to piece together more patchwork fabric).
I walked out on the dress for a couple weeks. I couldn't handle all this foolishness.

After a break, things went much better. I cut out a v-shaped jersey insert for the back bodice. This gave enough room to pull on the dress over the head without a zipper or buttons. I reached into my stash for a lovely purple lining for the "red flowy." Giving the lining a rolled hem was simple thanks to my new machine with its rolled hem foot (hand-me-downs from Mom, yay!). And I even found another use for that cursed pink polyester.

Here's the inside of the dress..

The end result is a hit. My son loves the way wearing a dress over pants gives him secret pockets. And the skirt is perfect for twirling!