Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Dress

In a previous post I showed you what I had intended for a Christmas dress for my granddaughter. Sadly, my extremely poor picture smocking skill are showing forth.

The smocking plate showed Santa with three reindeer flying over trees and houses. It's an adorable pattern, but I just am not experienced enough in picture smocking. This is far as I got before deciding that I would just not be able to make this look good enough to claim that I did it. The trees are too squat, and the houses definitely look different - but they are not supposed to. I think that the pleated fabric was not tight enough. I blocked it to the pattern, but the pleats were too far apart to really be able to make the smocking look good.

So back I went into my pattern archives and came up with Maggie from The Children's Corner.  I am making the long sleeved version in the same red fabric as before, but with a few changes. First of all, no lace. I just don't think lace would look good with the fabric, which is a quilting weight cotton. The cuffs are turned up and hemmed, and I wanted some trim on the outer edge, so I made them two piece.  Then I decided I needed black entredeux, which is a ladder stitched onto fabric strips and is used to attach lace and other embroideries to fabric. Naturally, I couldn't find any online, but I remembered seeing directions for making your own somewhere on line.

I couldn't find the link, but was pretty sure that I saw it on Laurie Anderson's blog, SewNso's Sewing Journal. After rifling through her website for a while and not finding it, I emailed her, and she responded with the link in half an hour. Thanks, Laurie! I made about three yards of it with black cotton fabric from Joann's, Mettler No. 50 cotton thread, a size 100 wing needle and some black tear away interfacing I just happened to have from a sampler pack. I have a Husqvarna Designer I sewing machine, and I used stitch D7, Venetian hem stitch, with the factory settings of L=2.5 and W=3.0.

Then I went to work on the dress. I think the dress in the pattern is much too short, so I made it six inches longer so it will be below her knees and have a generous hem.

This is the top and bottom of the collar, which is in one piece as the dress buttons in the front. Dresses that button in the back usually have two piece collars that meet in the front. I won't cut out the center portion of the collar until it is sewn together and ready to be attached to the dress. This keeps it from being distorted while handling.

Here is the collar sewn together, turned right side out, with the entredeux trimmed and clipped, all ready to go.

I also worked on the sleeves a bit. Since I'm putting in a french seam, I first sewed the wrong sides together. Here is it pinned and ready to be sewn.

Next I pressed the seams, turned the sleeve outside in, then sewed the sleeve right sides together, enclosing the seam.

Perfect french seam, with the cuff hemmed in place.

I'm sure you're wondering about the black entredeux, but I'll post about that in a later date. Next up, the pleated front and back.


  1. This is looking gorgeous. I am headed to Lauries tute so I can practice some entredeaux. I know it can be made but have never tried it. That black Entredeaux is really awesome.

  2. Different pleaters can have slightly different spacing and this can really affect the look of picture smocking. It is important to stay with designers who design for certain pleater. Somewhere I have a list of the different designers and what pleaters their designs work with. I will try to find it but right now my sewing room is in chaos mode. I really think that is what happened here, not that you are not skilled enough to carry off the project.

  3. Can't wait to see the finished article. It looks gorgeous so far.

  4. Cynthia, I just found this and I think that you're being too hard on yourself. Who said that the trees have to be toller? I guess, your Santa would be a big fatter than in the original design, so what?

    By the way, I have a very strong Inner Perfectionist so I know how you feel :o)

    Your little red dress is gorgeous, and you're a real inspiration to me.


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