Saturday, June 25, 2022

A Wedding-Worthy Dress for a Baby - Simplicity 8614

 At the time of my wedding my niece was a bit too young to have an official role. However, I decided she still needed a special dress, made just for her, for the festivities.

Something lacy in keeping with the theme of my dress and the flower girls dresses.

At first I thought I might just make her a miniature version of the flower girls' dresses, but then I remembered something I had in my stash.

An embroidered ivory net lace skirt I'd picked up at a thrift store once upon a time. I bought it because the lace was pretty, and I wanted to use it for something, but after several years of hoarding this thing in my stash, the right project never came along. Until now!

I decided to use Simplicity 8614, because the ruffle around the neckline was just so cute! I measured the dimensions of the lace skirt and the size of the pattern pieces in my niece's size and was thrilled to discover I would have just enough lace to make this plan work!

Now what would go under the lace? In keeping with the purple and green color scheme of the wedding party and decorations I chose a pale green rayon twill off the clearance rack at Joann's. It was wonderfully soft.

For the ruffle around the neckline I used some ivory embroidered net lace I'd found at the 100 yen store in Japan a couple years earlier.

I chose to skip the big bow in the back shown on the pattern and just finished off the dress with a row of buttons down the back instead.

Getting an active baby to hold still long enough to be buttoned up wasn't easy, but one of my neice's other aunts managed it beautifully. 

Finishing off the ensemble was a pair of eyelet bloomers made by me.

And a headband and booties crocheted by my sister.

They were the perfect finishing touch!

Unfortunately the baby didn't want to leave on the headband and booties very long.

But they were cute while they lasted!

My niece spent the afternoon being just as involved in the wedding as a baby could be!

She posed for lots of pictures.

Spent time with Mimi,

Or Daddy,

Between portraits.

I snagged her just as often as I could because holding a baby is the best!

A few short naps happened throughout the day.

Because weddings are exhausting!

And then she spent the reception meeting relatives she hadn't had the chance to meet yet.

And she even got out on the dance floor a bit, where she was, justifiably so, the center of attention!

This little girl had a lot of personality and it was so much fun to have her included in the wedding festivities!

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Flower Girl Dresses

 About 20 years ago, as all young Catholic children do, I had my first communion. For this occasion girls get to wear the prettiest, fanciest, white dresses and a white veil to go with it. Every spring, in the years leading up to my first communion, I admired the girls’ first communion dresses, all satin, lace, tulle, and poof, and dreamed of my own. Finally, when I was 8 years old it was my turn. My mom and I picked out a very pretty white eyelet dress for me to wear. White cotton eyelet. Like I said, it was very pretty. However, it wasn’t quite the satin and lace gowns I’d been admiring on the other girls, and I admit I felt a little disappointed by this. My one chance to wear a very fancy dress, and it was cotton eyelet.

Now, looking back, I appreciate that eyelet dress much more than I would have appreciated a fancy polyester satin gown. And in planning my wedding, I very strongly considered dressing my flower girls in cotton eyelet, or even *gasp* cotton gingham. I appreciate the simplicity of it - and what fabric could be better for childhood than machine washable cotton?

Yet, I kept remembering my first communion dress. As much as I appreciate it now, appreciate the beauty and simplicity of it, appreciate the way I stood out by not having a fancy dress just like everyone else, and appreciate my mother’s taste and judgment in the matter, I still remember the flicker of disappointment I felt at not having a dress made from fancy fabric. This was my flower girls’ chance to wear a fancy, slightly over the top, dress, and I didn’t want to disappoint them. A compromise would have to be made between my current tastes, and what my tastes were when I was 8 years old.

Lace it was!

I've always loved lace, so after dismissing the initial idea of cotton eyelet, I decided the dresses would have to have to be lace. Our wedding colors were green and purple, forest green and lavender to be exact. The bridesmaids, ringbearer, and ushers would be in green, and the groomsmen would be in dark purple, so I came to the conclusion that the flower girls ought to wear lavender. Lavender dresses with white lace overlays. That would be just the thing!

I found a pretty lavender polyester at the Mennonite fabric store, and then went in search for the right lace. I liked the idea of a embroidered net lace, similar to what I was using for the overskirt on my dress. However, neither the Mennonite store, Joann's, nor Hobby Lobby had anything that quite fit that description. Not wanting to go through the hassle of ordering something online, I just picked the white "eyelash lace" from the Casa Collection at Joann's. Despite not being what I'd envisioned, it worked up beautifully, and I really do love how the flower girl dresses turned out.

Several years ago I picked up Simplicity 6190, a 1970's girls' pattern, in a size 10 at an antique mall. I loved the flutter sleeves, square neckline, and long skirt of view 4. When I picked it up the thought crossed my mind that it would make a very pretty flower girl dress one day.

Fast forward a couple years to about 3 weeks before my wedding and I had my flower girls over one morning to make their flower crowns and be measured for their dresses. (I intentionally waited until as close to the wedding as possible to do this because kids have a habit of growing very quickly) Upon measuring the girls I was delighted to discover that the oldest was just the right size for my copy of Simplicity 6190! A search through my pattern collection then revealed Simplicity 5540 in a size 7, just the size I needed for the younger girl. This pattern had very similar lines to the first, just a different neckline shape. I could change the neckline to a square and it would be perfect! How delightful to be able to use vintage patterns from my stash for this project!

Both patterns were in good shape with all the pieces accounted for. The patterns recommended zippers down the back, but I was afraid zippers would get caught on the lace so I opted for buttons instead.

The dresses, thankfully, came together very quickly and I delivered them to the girls about a week before the wedding so we could double check the fit. 
Thankfully they fit well and no alterations were needed!

On the wedding day, they arrived early with their parents to help set up and get ready.

My sister-in-law did their hair and attached the pretty flower crowns they had made for themselves securely in place.

Then they got to run around outside for a bit,

And help my sister with the allergy-friendly cakes,

Until it was time for everyone to put on their wedding clothes!

Then some pictures.

Lots of pictures!

I love the way the square necklines and flutter sleeves on their dresses echo those design features on my dress!

And then wedding guests began arriving so back inside we went until it was time for the wedding.

I gave the girls their gifts - doll dresses to match their dresses.

And then it was time for the wedding to begin!

Entering right before me, the girls did a beautiful job of scattering flowers all down the aisle.

They took their job very seriously. 

They stood up front with the bridesmaids during the ceremony.

And then were escorted out by the ring bearer.

We all made it through the wedding!!

Then there was some more hanging out and taking pictures.

And the reception fun could commence!

These girls (especially the oldest) tore up the dance floor!

A year later and I've heard from their mom that the dresses still fit! They're just a bit shorter now, because, you know, the growing thing kids do.

They wore them for Easter this year, which just makes me so happy!

Since they are still choosing to wear the dresses, I'd say I fulfilled my goal of making something that both current me likes and 8 year old me would have approved of.

Girls' dresses really are the most fun thing to sew!