Project 23 – Birthday Set For a Special Girl

The school kids, Masters 3, 5 and 6, attend a Montessori school, where the curriculum is taught in English, but the kids are almost all Malay, so speak Bahasa to each other. My boys have done a pretty good job at making friends with the other kids, but they really love their Aunties (their teachers). Master 6 is a particularly sensitive boy, whose best friend at school was one of the Aunties, and her almost 3 year old daughter. In fact, all of the boys love to play with Miss 3, (who doesn’t speak a lot of English, for the record). This particular teacher announced last Monday that she would be finishing at the school on Friday, and moving out of the area the following week, and that Miss 3 would be having her birthday party and farewell on Saturday.

The Aunties always love the clothes I make for Little Miss, so it had long been my intention to make Miss 3 a dress for her birthday, but I did think I would have more than 5 days for it! Anyway, we came straight home from the school drop off, and I asked Little Miss to peruse my fabric collection and choose something for Miss 3’s dress. She landed on the leftover fabric from the birthday dress I made for her, so I had to get a little creative for the design to make sure I had enough fabric.

As usual, I used the Tadah Patterns Tea Party Dress as a starting point. I loved the curve on the bottom of the sleeves from the Rose Dress by Violette Field Threads that I made recently, but didn’t want the top pleats. So, I took the gathered sleeve from the TPD pattern, and traced over the curved hem from the Rose pattern. Next, I wanted the dress to be fancy, so I decided to have the skirt layered with many ruffles, peeping out from under a top layer of the birthday fabric (which, in case you were wondering, I got from the Laura Blythman collection at Spotlight). To make the top layer sit nicely, I borrowed the tie-up idea from the VFT Scarlett Skirt, which you’ll remember I made into a Beauty and the Beast skirt here.


I just love how this little tie-up detail turned out on the skirt. It gives it a real princess-y look


So, I started by working out that I wanted my top layer to be about 14cm long once hemmed and cut that appropriately. Then, I knew I wanted 4 layers underneath, and that each ruffle should overlap by about 3cm. Once I’d worked out the length for each ruffle, making the top one shorter as there was nothing to underlap it with, I sewed 2 strip of 90cm together for each of the ruffles, then overlocked the long edges. The bottom edge I then turned up, pressed, turned and pressed again, then hemmed. I overlocked it so I could easily fold a consistent hem, and it saved me a lot of time measuring it. Kind of a necessity, with over 10m of hem in this dress and only 5 days to complete it!


The ruffled portion of the skirt…it’s very fluffy!


Next, I made a tube for the skirt. This was a little bit wider than the bodice, so would be gathered a little bit, and was the length of the finished skirt, minus the length of the last ruffle. The first step was to sew the bottom ruffle to the bottom of the skirt, then topstitch it to keep the seam allowance in place. Next, I marked where each of the ruffles should sit on the skirt, and then marked a line 1cm below this. Now, I matched the side seams, and pinned the gathered ruffle right sides together, along the bottom line, but with the bottom of the ruffle pointing up toward the top of the skirt. I attached it with a 1cm hem, then pressed the ruffle down, and topstitched over it. I repeated this for the next ruffle, then added the top ruffle as normal, basting it to the skirt.


Attaching the second ruffle. You can see the bottom ruffle on the right, and this is the upside down ruffle, which will be flipped once attached, and topstitched


At this point, I pinned on the first of the skirt ties, which I cut at about 3cm by 25cm, and double folded then sewed, to the centre of the skirt. Over this, I added the already hemmed top skirt layer, gathering and matching the side seams. Finally, I pinned on the top tie, and the skirt was ready for attachment.


The many, many layers of skirt


The bodice was pretty easy, and apart from the slight modification in the sleeves, was a regular construct. Once that was all together, I attached the skirt as usual, and sat back to admire my work!

I made a matching bow hair clip to go with it, using this tutorial, which I scaled down and hot-glued to the back of a plain alligator clip (I bought a bag of 50 from Alibaba when Little Miss was born). FYI, I don’t bother with interfacing since they’re so small, but that’s a combo of laziness and stinginess… I mean, a design element. The birthday girl, and her Mama, loved the dress, which I was very pleased with. We will miss them a lot! Little Miss also got a kick out of wearing her matching dress to the birthday party as a teaser.


The finished dress



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