Christmas Dress~Sleeve Tip

Having just returned from North Carolina last night, I’ve hardly unpacked.  But the exquisite Stetson Christmas Candlelight Concert was this afternoon, so that took priority over properly settling in at home.  Last night I pulled a long session in the sewing room finishing up Laurel’s dress so she could wear it for this, the first Christmas-dress-worthy event of the holiday season.

She looked as sweet as any Christmas treat, though I am not completely happy with the dress.  For a rather small 7 year-old, her Sarah Howard Stone collar is rather large, even though I reduced the size considerably.  After putting the dress, collar and sash all together, I really think I need to put lace on the sleeves.  There just wasn’t time before we left for the concert but I’ll tend to that this week.

The ivory ribbon sash is an especially lovely 1-1/2″ wide antique silk which my friend Suzanne Sawko shared with me.  It is not as stiff as grosgrain and has no apparent “grain,” though it doesn’t roll at the waist.  It almost reminds me of a heavy organdy.

The dress was made from Ginger Snaps’ Lace Dress pattern.  It is a slightly raised (1-1/2″ above waist) yoke dress with several collar options and skirt variations.  Though I had never used it, I foolishly thought my years of experience made it unnecessary to read the directions.

Every pattern Nancy Coburn does is excellent.  Though she gives clear, concise basic directions, she always has some special tips that make the price of the pattern a bargain.  That is just one reason I use Ginger Snaps patterns. But this time, I missed a very good  tip that would have made the dress so much nicer.

I was trying to construct this garment while we were at our cabin in NC.  Sewing away from my sewing room always makes me feel like a duck out of water.  I try to get fabric, pattern, etc. all organized but invariably I forget something or change the design and need something I haven’t brought along.

For this dress, I had cut out the sleeves and bodice at home and was ready to sew at the cabin once I got set up.  So I just gathered up  the sleeve cap and set it in.  The velveteen, in my opinion, is too bulky to French seam.  Without my serger, I had to use an overcast stitch on my sewing machine –not nearly as nice.  I had taken a smaller, lighter sewing machine to the cabin and regretted that.  I wished I had brought along my Brother Duetta or ULT 2003D. Each comes with an attachment called the side cutter which does a great job as a mini serger.

After dealing with all the messy velveteen fuzzies and moving on to the next step, I did glance at the pattern and spotted a tip that was new to me.  Nancy suggested that for a collar dress, the sleeves have no gathers near the shoulder seam.

This may be common knowledge to the rest of the sewing world but it was news to me—sensible, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that? kind of news.  But at that point in time, I wasn’t up to removing the sleeves and starting over.

Her directions and illustrations for the back lap are the best I have ever seen.  Can you tell I love this pattern?  For Laurel’s Easter dress, I think I am going to make the lace dress as shown on the pattern cover.

FYI, I met Nancy about a hundred years ago when I was teaching at one of the earliest Martha Pullen schools, in the little blue house on Madison.  But I have never seen Nancy again and have no other affiliation with her.  This is a recommendation straight from the heart.

The concert was so beautiful that I had goosebumps most of the time.  Stetson’s School of Music is nationally recognized for its excellence and attracts the most talented students.  The select Concert Choir is the best of the best, filling 114 year old Elizabeth Chapel Hall with heavenly music. The acoustics are on a par with the music program.

Many, many years ago, I was awarded my master’s degree on that very stage.  There was music in my heart that day, but it couldn’t compare to the music on the stage today.

Elizabeth Hall, built in 1887

Laurel was as equally moved by the concert.  She often nudged me with wide eyes, indicating her delight.  We arrived a full hour before the 1-1/2 hour performance in order to get a seat where she could see.  She waited contentedly with her knitting project and was perfectly behaved the entire time.  How blessed I am to have this precious child to share experiences such as this.

So what special Christmas events to you have coming up?

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