first communion dress

last year i made a first communion dress for my oldest daughter that i was pretty disappointed in at the time. it was missing that special something and i vowed to do better next time! as it turns out, that dress i was so meh over has been pretty useful over the year now that she’s grown into it (and after hacking off several inches in length). it was her birthday, christmas, and easter dress with the addition of a belt or tie sash.

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daughter number two, Sylvia, is much easier to sew for, given her affinity for all things fluffy and over the top. i used a new look pattern (i think… can’t be bothered to look it up…) for the bodice because i like that it has darts for shaping. the skirt and sleeves are self-drafted. i actually muslined this bodice to check fit. however, it’s pretty hard to fit an 8-yr old who couldn’t stand still to save her life, so the finished dress was a touch gape-y at the neckline. i used a cotton/poly sateen because i was determined not to put her in that horrid poly satin that is not only the devil to work with, but not exactly breathable.

i scooped out the back neckline and drafted a cap sleeve. i’m really proud of my cap sleeve, as i came up with a clever way to make them. i cut a football shape on the bias, folded it in half and draped it directly on her shoulder while trying on the muslin. the bias cut allows for movement, and folding it in half eliminates hemming for a nice soft look. i cut it to have no ease throughout the sleevecap, but since it’s on the bias and naturally stretches, i probably should have cut it smaller than the armhole. it appears to pucker slightly in places, though i assure you the stitching line is completely smooth! oh well, not a big deal.

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i used every inch of the 8 yards of tulle to make a nice fluffy over skirt, and i think it has just the right amount of volume. the tulle is in three doubled layers (6 altogether) and ugh that was a hassle. hate that stuff! underneath is an a-line gathered skirt from the main fabric, and the whole dress is lined under that. i hemmed the underskirt with wide bias tape to stiffen the hem and give it body.

the zip is hand picked because it’s just easier to navigate all the layers, and i like the hand-made touch on a dress like this. then after agonizing and searching everywhere, i finally found the perfect width of perfect beaded/sequined lace for cheap at my local fabric dive, which i hand-tacked down in several places.

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while this dress has no practical uses post-ceremony, it was a fairly simple make and received many compliments. she has no shyness in proclaiming her hand made goods, so i spent a bit of time explaining what sewing is to a few of her classmates. who knows, maybe we managed to spark an interest in a younger generation!

—lisa g.