A special summer dress using the Free Spirit pattern by Duchess and Hare

by - 17:02

I started out sewing a couple of years ago aiming to make clothes, mainly dresses, to sell. I kept a free shop here. Last summer, I jumped on the high-low skirt bandwagon, and drafted my own simple bodice and high-low full circle skirt. I made a straight age 4 and put my daughter in it to model. I used Ad Lib Blooms Shout fabric from the Artisan collection by Art Gallery Fabrics. I totally love the bold colours and floral design. I should have bought more when I could, but you learn from your mistakes! I must say, I was reasonably new to photography, and still fairly new to sewing.

The bodice didn't fit my daughter, but she wasn't a straight age 4. So this dress sat unsold and unworn in the store all year. This year I decided to resurrect it. I tried it on my daughter again, and the bodice was still ill-fitting, too wide across the waist, and too short on the armscye (she's nearly 6). But the skirt length seemed fine still.

So I spent a while unpicking the skirt from the old bodice, and invisible zip. I sewed up the back centre seam (where the zip had previously been) and got rid of all the little fiddly bits of thread.

I've had the Free Spirit pattern since it was released by Duchess and Hare but have never got around to sewing it up. I keep seeing this dress pop up in various Facebook groups, and on various Instagram pages that I follow and I just had to sew it up. Printing out the pattern to my daughter's size, I was rather pleased that my skirt would fit the bodice with no alterations needed at all!

The bodice is easy to sew, there are no fiddly bias bound seams, no fiddly buttons or snaps, just a simple shop bought tie to be inserted at the construction stage. For this bodice, I used a cream coloured cotton lawn as the lining, with my favourite (sadly sold out) red chambray as the outer.

I'm lazy, and didn't fancy hand stitching the bodice lining down, so I sewed the skirt to the bodice lining, then top-stitched the main bodice to the skirt, thus enclosing the seam. It's a lot quicker than hand stitching, but the result isn't quite so pleasing to the eye. Next time, I think I'll spend the time hand stitching so that I don't get that line of top-stitching to give a truly clean finish.

To my delight, my daughter found the dress sitting on my dressmakers dummy early in morning, hugged it, stripped off in the living room, and put on the dress. She danced down the stairs to my bedroom with a huge grin on her face exclaiming that she loved it and could I tie it up at the back for her. I was super pleased she liked it, but the pre 7am wakeup was a bit much!

She has wanted to wear it for the past few days now. She even wore it for a two hour tennis lesson the other day. I think this may become a much loved dress this summer.

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