Friday, November 21, 2008

Little Girl Dresses, Part 2

In Part 2 of our Little Girl Dresses feature, we introduce Jessica Wye.

Jessica loves to sew clothes for little girls. I first met her in the middle of Spotlight on a fabric hunt for kiddie clothes. The garments featured in this post were made as gifts. She hasn't tried to sell any yet but is keen to do so. Her business card is included below.

She says, "Most of the baby clothes were made from Butterick, Simplicity and Burda patterns, most using only 1 metre of fabric."

"The lime green dress with strawberries is my favourite, made from broderie anglaise, and the pink pantaloons and hat brim were made from poplin. I use poplin a lot for solid colours in baby clothes because it feels good against the skin and is very cheap to buy, often only NZ$3.99 a metre at Spotlight. The two smocked baby dresses were made using patterns from an Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine."

A small piece of pretty fabric can be readily crafted into something cute, but see what happens when you add the extras...

Smocked's not as tricky as it looks.

Add ribbons and lace...

Add contrasting fabric...

Put it all together...

Yellow polycotton gingham and heavy weight navy cotton, both purchased on sale at Spotlight. Made for a 6-year-old, smocked bodice, can be worn with or without the blouse.

Party dress to fit 10-12 year old. Fabric found at a secondhand shop for only a couple of dollars! Jessica added a thick band of ribbon around the hem and matched it with a thinner ribbon bow on the front.

When I asked Jessica what started her sewing, she replied:

"It was because I couldn't find many feminine and modest clothes around that I liked. Blenheim is very limited in clothing shops and it is often hard to find clothes I could afford too. It was also just the fun of being able to make my own clothes.

"At first I made simple skirts then moved on to dresses and blouses, I was able to make nice clothes for my sister too. A friend of mine who is an expert seamstress helped me learn the basics and I went from there."

"I learned the most when I decided to have a Regency 21st birthday and bought patterns from Sense and Sensibility Patterns. I learned about proper fitting, having to get the bodice just right. I bought my own sewing machine before I knew how to sew, as I intended to learn. It sat unused for about a year until I caught the sewing bug, since then I have updated to a better machine and have purchased an overlocker too. The Victorian dress was my first attempt at taking bits and pieces from several patterns plus making my own skirt and train pattern and putting them together. Other girls I know are experts at this but for me its hard not working from a complete pattern, it took over a week from beginning to end."

And she thinks taking a week on a project is a long time. Phew. I take that long when I AM following a pattern!

Jessica plans to make more dresses with smocking embroidery on the bodice, and has kindly provided images of future projects. I hope they inspire you as they've inspired Jessica and I. Smocking magazines can be purchased at most magazine shops, or you can buy them online from Each issue costs NZ$15.50, but Jessica says it's worth it since you get a pattern for every garment featured.

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