Easter Dress~Oh NO!


See followup post She Wore the Dress.

Happy Easter to you all!  This is such a joyous season, filled with promise of renewal and new beginnings.  Beautiful worship services, inspiring music, egg hunts and family gatherings all make it so special.

I will enjoy all these blessings, but right now I am dealing with major disappointment–the Easter  dress I made for 2 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose.

For this enormously significant holiday, every mother and grandmother tries to outfit her little darlings in beautiful garments.For me, “tries” is the operative word here.  And believe me I did  try.


ME Shout


This post is not meant to be all about moaning and wailing, though this Mary Engelbreit illustration captures my feelings pretty accurately.  But I do hope listing the details of my failure will be helpful.  Also included are the few (very few!) good things I did.

So, reluctantly, I post this sad photo of the disastrous dress.


Alice all

MISTAKES:  (If you are prone to depression, just skip this and go to the few little success at the end of the post.)

Mistake #1–I did not read or examine the pattern before plunging in.  It clearly states that this is a “loose fitting” dress.  But did I check out just how loose fitting it was?  No.  In fact, on the pattern envelope the chest measurement for size 3 is 22″.  Okay, that sounds right.

But a 33″circumference around that little chest where where the skirt is joined to the bodice?  This did not jive with the look I wanted.  The fit is more like a bishop.

Mistake #2–I did not select suitable fabric.  I love the ultra sheer Swiss “fairy batiste,” but for this garment it was the wrong choice.  In my humble opinion its airy, shifty nature makes cutting out and construction very difficult for anything larger than a daygown.

Additionally, the fabric is not crazy about machine embroidery.  And there is a lot on this dress. Even after I abandoned hand embroidery, I had chosen very light embroidery–feather stitching and simple flowers.  Stabilizing and hooping (NO!) were a great challenge.

And one more reason this fabric was wrong?  It is wrong for Tornado Vivian Rose. When I showed the dress to my dear husband,  he commented, “Wouldn’t denim be more appropriate for her?”

She looks like a docile angel.  But she is Vivi.


Vivian Rose in a rare quiet moment

Vivian Rose in a rare quiet moment.  Notice the dirty skirt on this busy, active child.


Mistake #3–I made the many pattern markings with #2 pencil, as instructed, because originally, I planned to do the embroidery by hand.  But time ran out.   After soaking in soapy water for 36 hours, the pencil marks remain.  Need I mention that I love water soluble markers?  Am I the only one who cannot get these marks out?

Mistake #4–I selected the lace at night.  But the wide edging at the waist is ivory not white like the more narrow edging.  The patterns match.  Why do I have white and ivory?  Oh no!

The lace was chosen, put aside, and not picked up again until it was handstitched to the entredeux at the waist, at 3 a.m.  When I saw the lace in the daylight, I was shocked!  But the shock came too late, as the dress had to be mailed overnight that very afternoon.

Mistake #5–I trusted the directions.  Big mistake.  Pattern makers are only human and errors happen.  I was in such a hurry to get the dress done in time that I neglected to read through the directions carefully and just went on faith, step by step.

The placket, which is only in the bodice, not the skirt, was a single length of lace insertion.  I could never figure out how to cover the raw edge, nor did I trust the sheer fabric and a piece of lace to withstand buttons and buttonholes.  The designer never mentioned buttons or closure, but she is well known for favoring beauty pins.

I, too,  love beauty pins but getting Vivian Rose to stand still long enough to slip a button into a hole is great enough a challenge.  She would be off and running with a bloody hole in her back if beauty pins were used.

Ultimately, I lined the placket with white grosgrain ribbon–bulky but sturdy.

Mistake #6–I trusted the pattern pieces.  They were mismarked.  When I was ready to cut out the slip front, the pattern piece  identified as sizes  3, 4, 5, and 6 had cutting lines for newborn, 6, 12, 18 months and 2.  Hmmmmmmm…

Ultimately I discovered that the piece for the smaller size was in fact the correct one for the larger sizes. It was mislabeled.   The cutting  lines indicated NB, 6 months, etc. But they they were larger and the armscyes matched the larger sized back pattern piece. So I cut from that one. It took a long time to sort all this out.   (Even longer than for you to read this boring tale of woe!)

But I like the square neck slip.

Alice slip 2



#1–Feather stitch files from Kathy Harrison’s Custom Keepsakes collections worked very nicely and look so much more like handstitched embroidery than the featherstitches on my machines.


skirt hem


#2–The substitution of a tatted medallion and more featherstitching for the hand embroidery was, I think, a pleasing choice.  But the ivory lace–that hurts my eyes.



Alice bodice

#3–I must have done at least one more thing right, but nothing comes to mind. Actually, aside from the dress,  6 yo Alastair’s linen, monogrammed bow tie was a satisfying success. It coordinates nicely with the dress which will likely never be worn.



This tutorial is great. For the monogram, I stitched a mock-up and marked the monogram placement with a water soluble pen.


Now that I have vented, I feel better (but I doubt you do!).  Mary Engelbreit has written my motto.


ME Yeah that happened


12 responses to “Easter Dress~Oh NO!

  1. Elisabeth Rose

    It will probably look better on. Maybe you can cinch up the waist a little. What pattern did you use? It doesn’t look familiar to me (pattern hoarder extraordinaire). Happy Easter to your Lovely Family!!

  2. Oh Dear, I’m so sorry that this dress didn’t work out, but I do appreciate your sharing with us. Not everyone wants to share their mistakes. By doing this you help us all learn. The bow tie is darling!

  3. I seldom do heirloom sewing now, but I do appreciate looking at your beautiful work and can identify with each of your laments. I recently marked a baby’s quilt with a chalk pencil because my water soluble marker dried up and I didn’t want to take the time to run to the store. Big mistake! I also have some friction markers that are supposed to disappear when rubbed. They didn’t work on that quilt, but when marking something less important, they disappeared before I was ready just by being near the steam iron. The Mary Englebreit expressions are spot on!

  4. Charlene, I’m sorry you can feel my pain first hand! I’d like to think that I am the only one who deals with needlework catastrophes. In reality, I expect you and I belong to a very large sisterhood of disaster dealers. I have one of those friction markers and have been reluctant to use it. I think I will put that aside for a crafty, no account project! Thanks for the compliment, the sympathy and the heads up on that marker. Oh, and for recognizing Mary Engelbreit’s accurate portrayals of our life situations.

  5. Cynthia, thanks for your kind comment. It’s a bit of comfort to think that someone might learn from this, so as not to make it a total wash. I’m glad you like the bow tie. The monogram just tickled me.

  6. I just love your attitude!! Hoppy Easter.

  7. Oh, Janice! I feel your pain! How very awful to come upon your deadline and run into so many problems! But let me tell you: that hem treatment? Gorgeous! The monogrammed bow tie? To die for! The only other thing I have to add is that for all my Easter sewing, I used ordinary washable crayola markers. They were labelled “extra clean.” And they washed absolutely beautifully out of everything! Of course that would assume that one finishes one’s holiday sewing with enough time to run a quick load of laundry…………………

  8. Thanks, Jeannie. Hoppy Easter to you, too!

  9. Jo, thanks so much for the sympathy. I’m glad you like the hem treatment. I loved it too but ran out of time to embroider hand worked French knots into the center of each flower. After the skirt was attached and I had all that disappointment, I was glad I hadn’t spent extra time to do that. I am fascinated by your use of “extra clean” washable crayola markers. I’ll be adding some of those to my marking supplies. Thanks for the tip.

  10. Neva Christensen

    Sew sorry about your sad experience with this little dress. That was a lot of effort to end up such a disappointment to you. Sometimes it helps to share, to vent, with others. Just a note about Frixxion pens. Test them as you would anything else. Once a red line on a red fabric disappeared, but a “chalky” line remained. That is the only bad thing I have had occur. Really like them, and heat from a hair dryer or a clothes dryer makes the marks disappear. (If the item gets below freezing, the marks return. )

  11. Neva, thanks for understanding about this disappointment and the need to vent. I really appreciate your input on the Frixxion pens. There is no better recommendation than first hand experience. And here in Florida it’s unlikely that any item I make will get below freezing! Thanks again for the details.

  12. We have all had items like this. If you do use the crayola markers, please let us know how you like them. My marker of choice has been blue dixon chalk pencils, but alas, they are no longer made and mine are almost gone.

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