Several months ago I was working on building up my inventory of American Girl doll dresses to sell, so I made this dress,
It's based off this open front gown from the late 18th century.
And my little sister loved it. She wanted to buy it from me, but didn't have any money
(oh the problems 10 year olds run into)
So I decided I'd save it to give to her, make a matching dress in her size, and give it to her for Christmas. I bought more of the same fabric I'd made the doll dress from, and looked through my lace stash to find some lace I wanted to use.
The wider ivory lace is a vintage cotton lace that I was given by a lady who was cleaning out her basement. It's gorgeous and amazing quality! The rose medallion lace was found at a thrift store and too pretty not to get. It turned out to be perfect for this project!
I made the green underskirt that went with the dress from some scrap fabric I already had, that I couldn't get more of, so I was going to have to use a different fabric for the underskirt of the girl-sized dress. When I went to get the striped fabric I came across this cotton print
Although the color looks strange in this picture, it actually perfectly matches the striped fabric, so I got enough to make a girl sized and doll sized under dress.
Now I was ready to sew! I used Simplicity 3725 as the base pattern. To make it match the historical gown I was attempting to some what copy, I eliminated the center front skirt panel, and made it front opening, like the original, rather than putting a zipper in the back like the pattern called for.Making the gown front opening, without any form of closure showing, presented me with a bit of a challenge, and I'm pretty happy with the solution I figured out! I could have used hooks and eyes, but I wasn't sure how well those would work on a dress worn by an active 10 year old, so this is what I did.
I cut out twice as many center front bodice panels as the pattern instructions called for. So 4, both an outer piece and lining piece to attach to each side of the bodice. This way I could make them overlap, like this,
On the panel that was going to be hidden I made 10 button holes, 5 on each edge.
On the other panel I sewed the buttons to the lining. They button toward the inside so they can't be seen when the dress is worn. This way the front of the dress looks great and is securely fastened!
Now for my favorite part, the lace!
There's not any lace on the original gown I was basing this one off, but I love lace, my sister loves lace, and this dress is a costume, not a reproduction, so lots of lace was added!
When I made the doll dress I had a small amount of a vintage corded cotton lace trim that I used down either side of the over skirt.
I loved how it looked. The challenge for the girl-sized dress was finding a similar lace, that I had enough of. I found the vintage cotton lace pictured near the top of this post, but I didn't have quite enough of it, I needed something else. So I decided to do a lace ruffle around the bottom of the over skirt at the place where the lace ended. I found some ruffled lace that I wanted to use, but it was white, not ivory like I needed, thus I tea-dyed it. Sadly, that made it too dark. I needed something else. Looking through my lace stash I found an ivory flat lace that I loved, and had just enough of. Even better, the color was slightly darker than the cotton lace, and slightly lighter than the tea-dyed lace, so it would work perfectly between the two, so I sewed all the lace on,
I love how it turned out!
At the bottom of the elbow-length sleeves on the doll dress I had added a narrow lace ruffle, so I needed to do the same for this dress. No problem, I have plenty of ruffled lace, and I didn't need very much. I also added the rose medallion lace, just because I loved it with the fabric.
The sleeves turned out so pretty!
Now, onto the under dress! For the skirt I used the same pattern I did for the over-dress, so that the skirt would be plenty full. For the bodice I used a sundress bodice pattern, lowered the neckline, and added a ruffle that would peak out over the top of the over dress. Just for fun I added some lace.
My little sister was sooooo surprised when she opened her present Christmas morning! She thought I'd already sold the doll dress! The next day we went outside to get some pictures of her in the dress.
The weather was amazing for December!
She and her new American girl doll, Isabelle, really like their new dresses!
Of course Mistletoe had to be included in some pictures too!
The back is almost as pretty as the front in my opinion, I'm so glad I didn't put a zipper in it!
And even though she looks like a perfect little lady in this dress. . .
No matter what she's wearing, she's still my exuberant little sister
(rope swings are amazing, by the way, as are long skirts)