Monday, January 1, 2024

Jingle Bells, Jingle Dress, Jingle All the Way!

 "Mommy, can Aunt Lyssa make me a Christmas Dress that jingles?" my niece asked.

"I don't know if you can do this," my sister-in-law said over the phone, "but she has requested a Christmas Dress that jingles."

If I can't make my niece the exact dress she wants, then what even is the point of sewing for her? Of course I could make her a dress that jingled! I didn't know what it would look like (other than jingley), but I was sure I could make it happen!

I've stuck with fairly casual, kid friendly, easily washable, fabrics for my niece's Christmas dresses thus far, just barely dipping my toes into the fancy fabrics realm with last year's organza trimmed dress. This year however, I thought my niece would appreciate something fancier, almost princess-like. Satin and lace it would be!

I had a lovely cranberry colored embroidered net lace in my stash. (I believe I picked it up from the City Sewing Room at some point.) There was only a yard of it, so not a whole lot to work with, but enough to make it a focal point of the dress. (Along with the jingle bells of course!) One of the great things about kids clothes is they require way less fabric than adult clothes! Perfect for the smaller cuts of beautiful fabrics I've collected!

With the feature fabric and jingle bells decided on, I spent weeks pondering the design. How did one make an elegant, jingley, dress? I took to Pinterest to find some inspiration in vintage and historical kids clothes. The above lace child's dress from the early 20th century gave me a starting point. I liked the basque waist, bows, short puffed sleeves, and of course the lace overlay. All it was missing? A good place to attach jingle bells! (Also, I didn't think I had enough cranberry lace to use it for the entire dress. gone are the days I could make my niece a full skirted dress from only 1 yard of fabric. We're firmly in yard and a half territory now.) I found solutions for these two issues in mid-19th century children's dresses.

Those shoulder strap thingys? Called bretelles? (These were a feature on my purple ball gown you may remember. . .) They looked like an excellent base to attach jingle bells to! And, the way they divided up the bodice would give me a good way to break up the lace and make it stretch.

Plan formed, I went to my pattern stash to find a starting point.

I picked McCall's 3023, a recent acquisition from a thrift store. It featured a basque waist like I wanted, a square neckline (my favorite!), and the bodice was already divided up the way I wanted it to be. I would just need to lengthen the skirt and replace the shoulder ruffles with flat bretelles. 

Pattern picked, I went fabric shopping. After considering all the different options at Hobby Lobby, my mom helped me choose a bright gold satin for the bretelles and sleeve bands and a champaign colored satin to go under the cranberry lace. This would be a Christmas Dress fit for a princess!

Along with the fancy fabric, this dress would require some fancy sewing as well. I did more hand sewing on this dress than her previous three Christmas dresses put together! It started with basting together the lace and satin for the center sections of the bodice. . .

And ended with sewing on buttons, shoulder bows, and, of course, Jingle Bells!

I finished the dress in time to give it to my niece at Thanksgiving, so she would have it to wear the whole Christmas season. And she loved it!

I think the face says it all! 

She wore the dress for Christmas and spent the whole day showing off her bells to the whole family, shaking them, and singing "Jingle, Jingle, Jingle!"

As with previous years, I continued the tradition and made an ornament to match the dress. Thankfully I found a cranberry lace trim at a thrift store that worked for the skirt of the ornament! With the lace border at the hem of the dress being so distinctive, I wasn't sure how I was going to replicate it in ornament size! 

My sister-in-law tells me my niece loved hanging all her dresses on the Christmas tree this year, so the ornaments are definitely a tradition I need to continue!

I also wanted to continue the tradition I started last year of making my niece's baby doll a mating Christmas Dress (I loved dressing up like my dolls as a kid!), however, I ran out of time to get the doll's dress done before Christmas. I had it cut out, I just couldn't fit in getting it sewn. (much like my own Christmas dress. . .) So, as of this morning, a week after Christmas, I finished the doll dress. (My first finished sewing project of the new year!) I'll give it to my niece as a belated Christmas gift next time I see her. Sadly it's too late for her and Dolly to match at the Christmas gatherings, but atleast she'll have it for the memories right?

Doll dress aside, I think it's safe to say I made my niece's Jingle Dress dreams come true this Christmas - and I'm not sure I'll be able to top this next Christmas!

Happy New Year!


  1. Amazing work! I feel there should be an art museum featuring your sewing creations.

  2. WOW! A little girl's dream come true. I loved her joy filled face!