no better excuse for pretty dresses than a family wedding. i wanted to do nanny proud.

i stashed a few liberty fabrics a little while ago and this was the star of the bunch. the prettiest ever botanical print, but only 2m of it. i knew that if i left it much longer i wouldn't have enough for 2 dresses and that just wouldn't be fair. the pattern is super economical and i have some left over, although with hindsight i would have gone for something with fewer seams to let the print shine.

after much searching i decided on the oliver+s birthday party dress. i was wedded to the idea of a button back (a surprisingly tricky find) and wanted to avoid anything too flouncy, not only for the sake of the yardage but because i wanted them to look modern, not heirloom. i also knew i'd have to line/underline as the print is such a fine lawn - not only seethrough but way too cold for march. my perfectionist tendencies are showing here i'm afraid - i bought a plain liberty lawn for the lining. it's a perfect match for colour (ivory) and for hand but it was quite an extravagance pricewise.

the pattern isn't lined, so i busked a lining from the main pattern pieces - i assembled the dress as though the lining were the facings and hemmed the two separately, to gain a little extra swish. i'm delighted with the finish - i clean finished all the seams (i think that's the term? when you fold back and edge stitch the seam allowances). i tried zigzagging but the fine fabric bunched up into a hard line no matter which way i did it. even though it's lined i didn't want to leave them unfinished as they'll see a little wear and tear. so it's now neat as anything inside, outside, and even inside the lining :oops:

so far so good, now for the not so good. the sizing was much closer to rtw than normal pattern sizing, which meant i had to size up (both girls are tall and well built), but on a fitting using the lining, before i cut the main fabric, neither had quite enough room across the chest. i was reluctant to make any major adjustments for several reasons; a) i've never done fitting adjustments before b) i was already busking the lining and not totally confident about that c) it was the first sewing i've done in a while, first garment sewing in years and not least d) yardage/precious fabric, i couldn't afford to cock up. and then of course there's the fact that neither of them would stay still in a dress with pins in it for more than 30 seconds at a time :roll:

so i decided to simply move the buttons and buttonholes closer to the centre back. because the original pattern isn't lined it folds part of the back panel over to form a facing for the buttons/holes. because i was lining i had spare that wouldn't need wrapping over. but this makes the back of the dress bigger than the front. it's never going to hang straight, particularly at the shoulders which are twisting to be wider at the back than they should be. if i'd realised this would happen before i did it, i might have tried to find another way round it. but in the end, it's not a big deal, i see it, but i doubt anyone else will notice. it's still pretty cold so i'm kinda hoping they keep their cardis on most of the time :D (see, i can be a perfectionist in that i notice the problem, but i can deal with it by really not caring, i'm improving ;) )

on the topic of adjustments i also had to cut great scoops out of the bottom of the armscyes to get the larger dress to even begin to sit straight. i guess this is partly individual anatomy, but overall i'm not so happy with the proportions of the larger dress (age 8). these are my only reservations about the pattern, which was otherwise incredible - beautifully detailed, with excellent instructions. but the pleated front panel is (i believe, i need to check this now because i'm not sure i do believe it) the same width across all the sizes, the tabs are the same size and placed at the same point on the dress, which looks strangely disproportionate on the larger size. aware of the shoulder issue second time around, i skimped on the pleats to gain a little more ease (i sewed each pleat seam 1/8" narrower, so in theory i gained 6/8" in total) in the hope of balancing the back. i prefer a fuller pleat, but i think the wider panel definitely looks better on the larger dress.

and so on to the little cardis/boleros, which beautifully cover up any minor imperfections in the fit of the dresses :) i wanted something really cosy, that didn't cover too much of the dresses, but provided a bit of chunky contrast to the delicate dresses. i loved knitting these. i went for wool for warmth, also because i found the exact colours from the print in the same range (rowan pure wool aran). in contrast to the dresses i had to size down the pattern (sirdar 1727), i used 1-2yr for my nearly-3yo (on smaller needles to get gauge) and 5-6 for my nearly-7yo (which is on the big side). yarn-wise i lucked out with the larger size - 3 x 100g with (literally) 6" to spare, but i had to buy a third ball of the pink yarn as i didn't have enough to sew up with. i tried sewing with similar yarn but it showed.

a very fun knit, my first garment that wasn't socks, and easy enough once i had the right size circ to pick up all the stitches for the border. i did the smaller size on straights, which wasn't pretty. i learned how to do mattress stitching, that was fun, and i watched lots of al pacino movies, which was also fun. it's nice to be back :D

if i can get any decent pictures of them being worn i'll post them up, but i have a feeling car phobia/sickness + general overexcitement may get to us on the day. and since you ask, i'm wearing a bargain purple/pink shot-silk with gold embroidery dress from toast's winter sale (£130 off :shock: ) a black lambswool cardi with mother of pearl buttons, mother of pearl accessories, vintage black patent/gold kelly bag and these shoes. rasputnik is wearing a vintage 60's italian 3-piece navy wool pinstripe suit :D