My 11 year old step-daughter recently came to spend 3 weeks with us, and she forgot her bag. How this is even possible, I just don’t know, but it happened and she was too far from home to go back and get it, and still make her flight. So, she arrived with the clothes on her back. Of course, living in South East Asia, there are plenty of very cheap options for kids clothes. The problem is, that my step-daughter is a fussy little fashionista at the best of times, and then we live in a very Muslim part of the country, where most 11 year old girls wear long sleeves and pants. And it’s 33 degrees and humid every day. My step-daughter was not going to go for that. So, I bought her a few things to get her started, then the day she arrived, I showed her some of the dresses I’ve made myself, and asked if she’d like anything like those. She really loved my second Cinema dress, but mostly for the fabric. When we looked at the cut alone, she preferred the silver dress. Fortunately for her, Oliver + S, also created by Liesl Gibson, has the Hide and Seek dress, which is basically a kids version of the Cinema dress. So we hurried off to the local fabric store, and after a painful length of deliberation, she chose a white cotton with navy polka dots. The thin nature of the cotton, and the dress shape she desired, meant that I decided to fully line it, cheat’s style (like I did for the second Cinema dress) to give it more structure. It had the added bonus of also allowing any underwear choices without fear of show through!
With Little Miss, I rarely bother to make muslins, as I sew so often for her that I am usually just moving straight up to the next size. I haven’t sewn for my step-daughter for a while, plus she’s very fussy about the fit of her clothes, so I bothered to make a muslin, and it was a good thing I did, because she asked me to lower the neckline a little (she had opted not to have the v-notched neckline). Since she wanted a skirt like my silver dress, I added 4cm to the length of the bodice muslin, then measured the circumference of the bodice bottom to get the width of the skirt. To this (I now forget what that was….), I added 80cm to allow for 8 inverted box pleats, each taking up 10cm. I sewed the centre back seam of the skirt and hemmed the bottom edge, then I started marking the placements for the pleats. First I marked the centre front and back, and those pleat positions, then the side pleat positions, and finally, the front and back side pleats. These were the trickiest as I had to measure the distance from the centre front and back to the bodice seams.
And finally I attached the skirt to the bodice. The whole dress was very quick to make; with 5 kids running around I managed to get it done in a little less than 2 days, whilst also having a life outside my sewing room. In these photos, the dress looks a bit large, and whilst it is true that the fit is a little roomy, I think it’s the best for kids with wovens, as it allows them to move. She says it is super comfy, which is a big compliment from a kid who wouldn’t wear a dress 12 months ago!