Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tulip dress, such as it is

Thank you for the comments, feedback and suggestions on my post about the Serenity Prayer. I feel bolstered by the things you said. I also appreciate knowing that I am not alone in my tendency to worry (and that I didn't scare off my readers with heavier content). I wish none of us had this problem, of course, but it's good to share these issues and help each other with them. I will look into the books and other prayers that some mentioned; I think they could only help. I want to improve this issue in my life and I'm willing to try different things to that end. It's good to know that some have been able to overcome the problem entirely, which gives me lots of hope for myself.

Now, I want to share a recent project that I'm calling the "Tulip dress." I made it for the GB, with inspiration from Janette, of the blog The Green Dragonfly, who made a dress she calls Beautiful Red Dress for her own daughter. I came across this project on Ravelry a while back, and it led me to Janette's blog, which is lovely and full of inspiring crochet- and sewing-related projects. I especially love her creations for little girls. I had already been planning to sew some dresses for the GB to wear this summer, and those are still in process. But when I saw the Beautiful Red Dress, with its crocheted yoke and straps, I wanted to try my hand at a combined sewing-and-crochet dress too. It didn't go as planned and I'm not thrilled with my finished product, but I did enjoy making it and I think it's important to share the duds as well as the successes.


Voila, my Tulip dress. I call it that because of the tulip pattern on the fabric, which is really my favorite part of the whole thing. I found it at Hancock Fabrics, in the cotton calicos section. But it looks like anything but a basic floral calico to me. It almost reminds me of a Scandinavian housewares design, say Marimekko or similar. The pattern is called "Mod Tulips" and it's made by Absolutely Cotton.


Isn't it pretty? I really love the colors. It doesn't photograph exactly true; the background is a purple-blue, iris-like. The stems and leaves are two shades of pale green, the lightest of which looks white here. I bought this fabric quite aimlessly, I had no plan for it, but I had to have a yard of it, especially because the cotton fabrics were on sale. I just couldn't walk away without it. What, me, a fabric-hoarding problem? Pshaw!




The crocheted part was easy, but this is where things really went wrong. I'm good at the mechanics of crochet itself, but making things sized to fit is not a strong suit. I used cotton yarn in plain white; I wanted it to be simple and sturdy, as well as cool to wear in warm weather. I measured the GB's chest and decided to give a couple of extra inches, for ease of movement and to leave room for a shirt underneath, just in case. I should not have done this. The squares were probably too large to begin with, and then they stretched a lot and the yoke ended up being very big, especially after I sewed the squares together. The same thing happened with the straps; I crocheted them to the length I thought I needed, but they stretched a lot. Oh, and I sewed the straps onto the yoke unevenly; they're too far apart and kind of crooked. I sewed the buttons on just fine, though. Go me.





Sewing, I'm pretty good at. I wanted the dress to be fairly long, so I measured to below the GB's knee. I hemmed the top and bottom edges and then joined the sides, making a tube. Then I pinned it inside the crocheted yoke, easing it around to make gentle gathers. I like the look of a puffy dress, which is also good for rampant twirling. Because I could already tell that my yoke was not very good, I felt I had little to lose by machine-stitching the skirt and yoke together (Janette hand-stitched hers). After everything was sewn in place, I helped the GB try on her new dress.


The poor child was engulfed by her summer sundress. The straps had stretched so much that the skirt ended nearly at her ankles. The crocheted bodice is so low that she can't possibly wear this dress without a shirt underneath, which sort of defeats the purpose of a breezy summertime dress. The straps barely stay on her shoulders because they're so far apart; I think the shirt is actually helping to keep them up, by friction alone. I felt like apologizing to her, because she knew I was making a dress for her and she was excited. Then I produced this thing.






Unexpectedly, she loves it! She pronounced it "very pretty" and she wore it for awhile, telling me she "always wanted a long dress, like you wear." I do wear long skirts sometimes ("maxi skirts," if you're fashionable); I guess I've made an impression. The dress is much too big for her, barely staying on her shoulders, but she's happy. I think we'll put it away and see if it fits better in a year or two. This dress could have been great, if I'd paid closer attention to the stretching and strap-misplacement and skirt length...hey, there were a lot of mistakes here. I could fix them, or let them be. I haven't decided yet. I do know that her happiness makes me happy, and this dress makes her happy - surprisingly so. She only knows that her mom made her a new dress, she doesn't see the mistakes. She makes me want to heap pretty, handmade things on her. Not to the point of spoiling her, you see, but because she inspires me to try new crafty, girly things - sort of a crafting muse. I felt sorry for myself for a little while - this should have been easy! - but it passed. This may be a crafting "fail," but I learned a few things and I liked working on it, so I'm feeling happy too.

46 comments:

  1. El vestido con el crochet, es muy lindo y la modelo "preciosa". Me encantó!!

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  2. It's such a pretty design and gorgeous fabric, the only thing I can see wrong with it is that it's a little big. That's soon solved, children grow.

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  3. You are too hard on yourself Jennifer, but we are our own worst critics aren't we! It is a very pretty dress, the crochet is lovely, the fabric choice is great, the only thing that is less than 100000% is the sizing, but as you were effectively making this up as you went and have never done anything like this before I think that is just a practice thing which will come as you make more clothes - if you decide to have another go. LB is clearly delighted with it from your description and the way that she looks so very happy in the pictures, and that, as you know is the most important part of all. All that she will remember is that her Mom made her a long dress that is so very pretty! You did great!!! xx

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  4. It's a very pretty dress and she'll grow :) To stop the straps stretching, you could line them maybe? Just use some wide white tape or grosgrain-type ribbon a bit narrower than the straps and slip stitch it on.

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  5. The tulip dress is very cute. I wonder if washing it and then throwing it in the dryer for a bit might shrink up the bodice? I don't knit with cotton very often because it hurts my hands, but I have noticed the tendency in the few things I've made with it to shrink. I say if your daughter is happy with it, let her wear it now. She can enjoy it as a maxi dress, and continue to enjoy it as she grows. It might become the most worn object you have ever made! :-)

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  6. It's a pretty dress & the fabric is lovely, your daughter looks very happy with it in the photo.

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  7. So sweet! It's a very pretty dress, and better to too big than too small. And I've always been told we learn more from our mistakes than the things we get right. Hope you are having a good week. xx

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  8. I've always found that the first one of anything I make is the trial one. The second one always turns out better. I don't know how many "firsts" I've had to frog and start all over. It seems your daughter is in love with it anyway and that's what matters. Hopefully next summer she'll have grown into it and she can enjoy it then. Your daughter is sweet!

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  9. Your dress is very sweet! I agree with Beca. The first one is always a trial run and yours turned out great. You know the few things you want to change and the next one will be great. Your daughter obviously love it no matter what.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  10. It's lovely Jennifer and the most important thing of all is Beca loves it so really that's all that matters. I made one similar out of Linda Permans little crochet http://lindacraftycorner.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/little-party-dress.html I loved it when it was finished but of course it went away to a charity so I have no way of knowing if it fit anyone I hope it did. :)

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  11. The dress is beautiful clever you x

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  12. What a pretty dress! The fabric is fabulous! And hey, at least it looks good, even if it is a bit big (don't worry, she will sort that out quicker than you can imagine. How they shoot up!). It would be far, far worse if it didn't look so lovely and she turned her nose up to it! So it will be a dress soon, then after that a tunic...and by that time you'll have made another (don't give up!) and will have that tailored perfectly. Congratulations! Chrissie x

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  13. It is a beautiful dress Jennifer, and even if it is a little on the large side, it still looks great on her. She'll grow into it more quickly than you think. It goes from maxi dress to normal dress and then vest top. So really, you made three items of clothing in one! Cx

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  14. Awwww Jennifer....You did a great job...nonetheless!
    I was making beautiful crocheted pillows for my daughter for Christmas...using cotton...
    I have one word for the results....NIGHTMARE!!!!...I also bought beautiful fabric for the backs...
    Turned out ghastly...don't know what to do with them!!!!
    Any suggestions?
    I think...if the GB loves it....it is perfect!
    Enjoy your week...
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  15. Aw, loving your sweet girl in her imperfect dress, and how sweet that she just loves it.

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  16. Even though it's a little big, it's still DARLING!! She will grow into it, or you could make another for her to wear now. Come on, Mom!! It's really cute. Great job.

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  17. Very sweet dress on such a cute little girl :)

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  18. Such a cute little dress, I love the tulips, she'll grow into it, you could always make her another one for now enjoy your week
    Clare xx

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  19. She'll grow into Jennifer I'm sure of that. And that she loves it is enough I think, even if you feel critical towards it. I love the idea of mixing crochet and sewing - wonderful. Glad you bought the fabric when you saw it. I saw some pale/mid green fabric once with little white polka dots on it, it was just the right colour green, I loved it. Didn't buy it. Never saw it again. When I close my eyes I can still see it. It was called "Celery". Oh I remember it well.

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  20. I agree with the others. The dress is very pretty and she'll grow into it. I have to say that you made me laugh with your comments about it though. :)

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  21. Jennifer, It's lovely. I too agree with everyone...she'll grow into it. The pattern is very pretty, and she looks adorable wearing it.-Her smile says it all. "Mom I love this, thank you for making me this pretty dress for me" :) It's wonderful, and you're a great mom.

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  22. It's a lovely bright, happy dress and I'm sure your daughter will love it regardless. Don't be too hard on yourself:)

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  23. I think it turned out great, very pretty! The tulip design on the fabric is so pretty!

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  24. The dress is gorgeous and I love the fabric. Clever you :-0
    Patricia x

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  25. Hi Jennifer.. it was fun to watch you make this dress. I think your daughter loves it because who wouldn't love being wrapped in something that your mother loved you enough to make for you? You rock.
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  26. Oh I love that dress!!! The fabric and crocheted straps are too adorable!! You did an amazing job friend!! Seriously!!! And I love that she is just smitten with it!! My goal is to make my bean girls dresses one day...hopefully sooner rather than later!!! Have a great day tomorrow!!! Nicole xoxo

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  27. I don't look on it as being a crafting 'fail' Jennifer, I think you did a great job with it and GB is obviously thrilled with it - and look at the love look on her sweet little face - and anyway, she will grow to it! Such pretty fabric and lovely crocheting - I say well done! Joy xo

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  28. Well, I think it is unanimously considered a success, Jennifer, at least by GB and those of us typing to you. I understand the things that disappoint you, but I too can see GB growing enough to fill it out and meanwhile she looks sweet and well loved. Bravo! xx

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  29. Oh Jennifer, such a pretty dress! I chuckled when you said the poor child was 'engulfed' in it ... it'll soon be just right, and anyway, looked perfect to me ... I LOVE the crochet top part. It's very Dottie Angel ...

    Thanks for popping over to see me yesterday, it's always lovely to 'see' you!

    Love Claire xxx

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  30. Aww she looks so chuffed with it, how can you call it a failure? I love the fabric and the way it contrasts with the white crochet border. What I would do if it was mine, I'd thread thin cord elastic through the straps vertically, several rows and that would hoist the whole thing up, keeping the softness under the arms so that she doesn't feel like she's trapped in it. :) Or you could put it away but that would be a shame because she looks so happy!
    Jess xx

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  31. I think the dress is beautiful Jennifer. You've done such a great job and it'll last her for ages. I'm planning to make a skirt for my biggest one. Maybe I'll blog about it when I get the sewing machine out :) She loves a dress or skirt and the shape of your dress would really suit her!! Not that I can crochet! Well done you :)

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  32. An excellent learning curve, the fabric and design are beautiful and I make the same mistakes when it comes to trying to figure out sizing for little dresses. It does look gorgeous though. Your daughter sounds a lot like my boys, they are just simply thrilled when I make something even when I think it is an epic failure and my heart just fills to bursting with love for them and their beautiful ways.
    Thank you so much for your comments on my last post. Means so much to me, especially when I am having really bad days and moaning away xxx

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  33. Well, since I have zero sewing skills, I think it looks pretty darn cute, and I love the tights and the way you've dressed it up. Surely she will grow into it, but til then, I will be nice even with a short sleeved shirt for summer. Best wishes, Tammy

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  34. A great dress with a great combination of crochet and sewing . The fabric is absolutely lovely and I think your little girl is quite satisfied with the result!
    Best things to you Jennifer!
    Olympia

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  35. Hey Jennifer,

    How did I miss this post? I adore your dress, and clearly your little girl does too. Lovely photos of her - she's a cracker. What a pretty girl. I always layer Olly with long sleeved t-shirts under cute summer ones that I want more wear from. I like the layering look on kids. I like the layering look on myself too, but that's mostly to hide my muffin top...;)

    Leanne xx

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  36. I really love this dress. The crocheted top is inspirational. I would never have thought of doing something like that before. Lucky girl.
    Rosie

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  37. I think it's absolutely lovely and that fabric is gorgeous. The whole thing has a really simple, timeless look about it, like it could've been made in any era. Don't be too critical of it, it's still a beautiful dress and the GB clearly loves it! x

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  38. I love this sweet little dress! The fabric is so pretty, and I love the crocheted top. The GB looks very happy and proud to be wearing it. Great work, Jennifer.

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  39. Such a lovely dress, the tulip fabric is gorgeous and I like the idea of the crochet bodice....your little girl looks adorable wearing it. It looks lovely now and will look lovely when she grows bigger too.....a worthwhile make which will last!
    Helen xox

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  40. Well I think your daughter looks so sweet in this little tulip dress. Layering is still in fashion, so I would let her wear it now because in a couple of years her own tastes may change ... a t-shirt or tank top would make it look more summery. I don't want to interfere with your project (and don't read further if you've already decided to put it away), but ... for a quick fix I would try removing the shoulder straps, make two straps out of the tulip fabric, and then attach the crocheted straps on top of them. That way you could get a better fitting using the tulip fabric, and then the crocheted straps wouldn't stretch if they were sewn onto that. The tulip straps could be narrower than the crocheted straps, and then they'd hardly show with the crochet work extending along the edges. I offer this only as a suggestion, and hope your not annoyed by the idea. Enjoy your day! Wendy x

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  41. Pretty dress. I absolutely love the tulip fabric. I wonder if I can get that over in the UK.
    I'd keep the dress for when she's a little bigger - let's face it with how fast our little girls are growing, she'll be wearing it by next Summer.
    While you've still got the pattern, and ideas fresh in your mind, make her a smaller version for this Summer. You'll fashion another in no time at all.
    Good luck, and well done. x

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  42. The pattern, fabric & crochet are all so pretty, Jennifer, and your little girl is precious! Couldn't you "try again," now that you know the problem areas?

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  43. Wow this is so very pretty Jennifer, I love it and the fabric is gorgeous. Your little girl looks so pretty in it, I bet it's now her fave dress! Well done you! xoxo

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  44. Hi Jennifer,

    The dress is pretty and your daughter looks so beautiful wearing it. I am sure she was happy with her Mum making a dress for her - very lucky.
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  45. I am just catching up on some of the blogs I've missed! I love the fabric Jennifer, and the crochet is soooo good! It is a shame about it being too big but put it away until she is a little bit bigger, it is so nice! And GB seems to love it, I bet she cannot wait until it fits her better. I am in the middle of sewing a skirt at the moment, but it was going a bit wrong. I have put it away for a while until I am feeling fully focused. :o))

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