I’m really into recycling Rebecca’s dresses that have been packed away for 25+ years. It’s amazing how timeless a smocked dress can be and how well they hold up.
Some, like Barbra Streisand, may turn their noses up “second hand,” but neither Laurel nor I mind.
I had to drop the hem, as little girls’ skirts are longer now. Fortunately, when the dress was made, I followed the standard recommendation of putting in a 6″ hem so I had a good 3″ to drop.
This basic yoke has a sash that ties in the back. It is smocked to just above the waist and meets the back yoke at that same depth. The sash snugs the dress up and feels more like a big girl dress.
The intriguing smocking plate is Chinese Chippendale by Barbie Beck, an almost ancient design. If you blow up the photo, you will see how interesting the design is.
The rose print fabric is a Rose and Hubble lawn, which was less than half the cost and 3/4 as nice as Liberty of London tanna lawn. I haven’t seen any Rose and Hubble in quality fabric stores for years and was told it is no longer available, but an on-line search did turn up a good selection, Sewing Basket Inc. has a nice selection.
Between the yoke and smocked skirt is self-piping. The sleeves and neckline are edged with Binche heirloom lace. The parchment color brightens the dress.
We’ll be studying some Aesop’s fables this year, so I’ll be sure she reads The Fox and the Crow and takes a good look at the lace on her dress.
The sleeves are gathered up with a technique Mildred Turner featured one of her books. If you don’t have all three, I would highly recommend you hunt them down for your sewing reference library. They are invaluable and out of print for many years now. Mildred has fabulous sleeve ideas and this one seemed perfect for the dress. Basically, a 5 mm zig zag is worked inside the sleeve over stretched 1/8″ elastic, with the thread in a color that blends into the fabric.
First, the elastic is marked at the correct length, i.e. 6″, but not cut. Then it is secured in the sleeve seam allowance with a few straight stitches, pulled up between the toes of the presser foot and pulled taught. This narrows the width of the elastic and makes it less likely that it will be caught in the zig zag stitches.
When the zig zag reaches the edge of the sleeve, the elastic is pulled up to the mark. Straight stitching through the elastic and fabric hold it in place. Finally, the elastic is cut.
Ribbon is secured at the underarm seam and threaded through bullion knot ribbon carriers. I used rose floss for the bullions to contrast with the navy ribbon.
I want so much to make more clothes for Laurel, but homeschooling takes a big bite out of my time. At least with Rebecca’s hand-me-downs, I can enjoy dressing her in things I have made. These retired dresses have been like money in the bank.