Drop-Waist Wool Jumper for Lucy
My middle child, my daughter, Lucy, has very distinct ideas about her clothes. She likes things to be girly and sparkly and spinny - for dress up and Halloween. But for everyday wear, especially in the winter, she gravitates toward dark coloured clothing with classic - even uniform-like style.
One of her favorite outfits last year was a long navy blue skirt and matching waist-length jacket made from something very similar to sweatshirt fleece. Another favorite item was a navy blue cotton twill jumper with princess seams, a dropped waist, and a pleated skirt. (Both items were thrifted, not made by me.) As with most of the rest of her clothes, the jumper is getting to be too short just as it is finally fitting in width.
I happened to pick up a remnant of wool plaid thinking I could make a skirt out of it, when Lucy saw it and asked for a winter dress. This particular wool is quite fuzzy and itchy, so I thought a lined jumper would be a good use for the fabric, since she would be wearing a shirt and tights under it anyway.
I searched high and low for a pattern for the dress before I finally found Simplicity 2574. Have you looked through pattern options for little girls lately? It's like driving through the subdivision I grew up in... every fourth dress looks remarkably the same. You have the shapeless shifts*, the yoke (square or round) with gathered and shapeless shift, or the plain bodice with dirndl skirt. Just try to find a dress with long sleeves, by the way. There are only a couple out there. Most of them seem to be designed for kids with a bit more weight on their frames. Even the independents! Lucy would look absolutely swallowed up in either of these.
Anyway, all of this pattern searching lead me to purchase the patterns which were in Lucy's size, but more like her style. In addition to 2574, I also purchased Simplicity 5540, 2675, and 2825 (as well as Burda 9614 for my son, but don't tell him there are girls on the cover - the same pattern for bigger kids is illustrated with boys). I also really wanted to find a legging pattern, but Fabricana was out of the particular pattern I liked.
So, back to the jumper. I made a quick muslin and determined that the size 4 would fit both Lucy and Clara around, but Lucy needed the skirt to be a size 6 in length. So, with that knowledge, I went straight to the fashion fabric. Somehow when I washed and dried the wool fabric (I am not going to make a dress for a child that needs to be drycleaned) the grain got distorted, so I had to spend a little time working with the iron and a fair amount of steam to true up the grain. I then placed my pieces. I managed to match the plaids pretty well except for one side seam (the front is a bit off-grain on that side somehow).
I did think to cut the skirt so that the center of the front and the back was in the same place as the center front/back of the bodice. As luck would have it, this plaid is even, so I cut the yoke on the bias. I cut pockets on the bias, too, but then I realized that they wouldn't fit on the dress with the band at the drop waist. That band was necessary to visually break up the plaid, so I used a bit of black no-wale corduroy. Similarly, I put a bit of black piping between the bias-cut yoke and the rest of the bodice.
This pattern does not come with instructions for lining. Why, I don't know. Many of the illustrations have a definite winter feel. The yoke is lined (instead of many little facings), so without thinking too clearly, I used a thick hot pink satin that I pulled from a remnant bin some years ago. I forgot that this fabric frays when you look at it the wrong way.
(The photo is a bit blurry, but you can see where the pink satin is fraying a bit between my hand stitches.)
I should have run a thin line of fray check along all of the cut edges as soon as I cut out the pieces. This came back to haunt me later. Anyway, because I used hot pink for under the yoke, and because I didn't remember to make the hot pink piece a tad smaller than the plaid, you can see just a bit of pink at the armhole in the finished garment. To make this error look intentional, I added a small bias strip of the satin to the edge of the band at the dropped waist.
To the lining. Oh, did I mess this up right and left! I used some black Bemberg rayon that I had in the stash from a 50% off sale back in the summer. I chose to underline the skirt portion and to attach the bodice lining in a more traditional way. Except that I didn't really think through those steps very well before plowing ahead with dress construction. Much of the lining is hand-stitched to the dress. It seems to be holding up, though, so I guess it's all right in the end (and now I know so I can do it by machine when I make Clara's dress).
I moved the pleats so that it would fit the plaid nicely and I decided to help myself out a bit and edgestitched both the inner and the outer pleated edges. I am really glad I did this, because every time the dress comes out of the wash (cold water - hang to dry), the pleats need to be ironed again. The edgestitching makes quicker work of the ironing.
The zipper instructions call for a lapped zipper - which is currently my favorite method of zipper installation - particularly when there are any horizontal seams to pull the zipper through. In this instance I sewed part of the zipper in by machine, but used hand stitching to sew the visible side. Looks pretty nice!
* I do realize that this dress is essentially a shapeless shift with a skirt attached to the bottom. Next time I'll take the sides in a bit.