Anna and I have had many discussions (aka arguments) about appropriate clothing to wear to these parties - it has turned quite cold here in Sydney lately and yet all she wants to wear her summer dresses which are now way too short thanks to a growth spurt that seems to have occurred unnoticed by us all. So after Saturday's discussion about what to wear which involved threats of not going to the party if something more appropriate wasn't worn, I promised to make her a new dress that night if she promised to wear it to Sunday's party. Deal.
I let her pick the fabric, a purple and grey knit 4 way stretch knit from The Fabric Store which is a lovely soft knit with great recovery although it was one of those knits that curls at the edges when cut which was very annoying to press flat and sew. I chose the pattern - a simple and sensible dress from the Japanese sewing pattern book from the "Fashionable Dress for Girls" book (ISBN 978-4-529-04816-3), which I've used before for these very cute puffy pocket shorts when she was just a little (but still highly spirited) toddler.
This post has details about where to buy Japanese sewing books and a mini review if you're interested.
The dress has sleeves and is knee length, which when worn with stocking or leggings is perfect for Sydney's version of winter (cold, but not really when compared with other places!). And the stretch factor is perfect for meeting all the needs of a bendy and wiggly 5 year old. It took less than two hours to make, including tracing the pattern out, so it's quite a simple project if you know what you're doing - those instructions in Japanese are as helpful as those in Burda (although there are little diagrams so they are still easier to understand than Burda!).
I made the pattern for 120cm height and the fit is perfect - I find these Japanese sewing patterns and others that do patterns based on height like Ottobre and Burda are perfect fit for Anna's tall and slim frame, much better than the commercial sewing patterns that base their sizes on chest measurements. The only changes I made were to add a narrow elastic band around the waistline instead of sewing a trim around the dropped waist level to give the dress a bit of shape. Check out that stripes matching at the side seam - you can barely see the seam line (but don't look too closely at that not so straight hem though!):
The pattern has a bound neckline with a keyhole opening at the back, but I left this off purely because I was too lazy to fiddle about with that in a knit fabric, plus I figured (hoped) that a neckline made of 4 way stretch knit would be ok without it. It is a bit of tight stretch over her head but it works.
You might also be thinking that I left off those gathers at the front neckline? Well, they are there - I just didn't notice until I was taking these photos that Anna had the dress on backwards. She might have kept her part of our deal to wear the dress, but she still did it her own way!
And now I've probably set myself up for more last minute sewing sessions, because with another 5 birthday parties in the next 5 weeks she'll probably now want a new dress each time!