Easter Dress: Disaster Averted

Easter dress for 3 yo Vivian Rose

Easter dress for 3 yo Vivian Rose.  The pattern is Children’s Corner Betsey.

Okay, I’m done whining about missing out on Easter with the grandchildren this year.  As I mentioned (or wailed) in the previous post, this year’s Resurrection Day garments remain undelivered.  And no, that is not the disaster to which I refer in this post title.  There is no recovering that missed celebration. But the Easter dress suffered a real near disaster which I dodged, more or less.


27" wide with 10" embroidery

27″ wide with 10″ embroidery


First, the details of this dress.  The gorgeous fabric, a 27″ Swiss embroidered flounce purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics, has languished in my sewing room armoire for many years.  It was meant to be used for granddaughter Laurel, who was too small at the time to use this length.  The embroidery extends 10 inches from the hemline.  Then, like so many other projects, it was pushed down on the “make soon” list.

Now with 3 yo Vivian Rose in the family, this beautiful fabric’s day in the sun has come.  Though it was a late start, the smocking was well under way before disaster struck.

Thinking to use my time wisely, 3 days before Easter. I brought the dress along to the hairdresser’s and did some smocking while my…uh…color enhancement set.   BIG MISTAKE!!!



ugly stain


Janice Ferguson’s custom color #1234 was smeared on the dress.



Of course, the purpose of hair color is to be permanent.  And believe me, on Swiss cotton it is.

But I came up with a fix of sorts.  Due to the elaborate border embroidery, the dress was cut with no side seams to match, leaving only the center back open.  Since there is a lot of leeway in the fullness of a bishop, I had added a few extra inches to each  side of the back for ease in matching the borders at the center back seam.

The stain was 8″ from the back edge.  The offensive custom color #1234 was cut away and the two backs stitched together, the seam trimmed and rolled and whipped .   Just a few painfully tedious hours later, the pleating threads had been retied and the back seam was moved to the left of center.  But I was able to match the border nearly perfectly.  I hope that match and the fullness of the garment distracts from the jerry-rigged solution.


Would you notice this on a galloping horse?

Would you notice this on a galloping horse?


The buttonholes were made on my Brother Dream machine on the embroidery side, in the hoop.  I love the ease and accuracy of hooped embroidery for buttonholes.

Overall, I am pleased with the dress.  My initial vision was for the smocking to be a simple diamond pattern in white with blue flowerettes adding a bit of color.  I soon realized that the smocking could mimic, if not duplicate, the Swiss embroidery and went with that.


sleeve smocking xxx-001


It was fun to make up the pattern as I went.  Well, it was fun until the stain disaster.  But good times resumed after the remedy.

Of course, big brother Alastair had to have a matching bow tie.  I have used this great on-line tutorial for several ties for him.  They are quick to make and comfortable to wear.


bow tie 1-001


And, once again my excessive fabric stash had just what I needed.  This linen is a near perfect match to the blue flowerettes in the Swiss embroidery.

The linen has an interesting history.  Long time readers might recall an earlier post about a genuine, certifiable fabric hoarder.  You have to scroll down through several feet of text and pictures to get the story I want to share  (“LACE”) but it is a fascinating account of one lady’s obsession.  A little research  into her family background would probably turn up a genetic link to me.

This is how she labelled every fabric.

This is a handsewn label.

This is a handsewn label.


No doubt there will be other upcoming occasions for these Easter garments to be worn.  In fact, on a recent family cruise, 7 yo Alastair wore his Christmas bow tie at dinner.  Isn’t he a dapper little fellow?


A dines cruise


No reader Easter outfits photos have yet shown up in my in-box.  Please share!  Send to NCcabin@aol.com.



20 responses to “Easter Dress: Disaster Averted

  1. I love the way you carried the embroidery from the flounce into the smocking – how resourceful! The dress looks wonderful.

  2. Thanks, Mary Lynne. I love mimicking embroidery. You might enjoy seeing a dress, made 33 years ago for my Rebecca, next worn by our first granddaughter (Rebecca’s neice) and now worn by Rebecca’s own 3 yo. That smocking design is a freebie in this blog postnull.

  3. Janice, you’re a genius! I would never have thought to move the seam but not the placket. It’s beautiful!

    Sadly, I didn’t sew a single thing for Easter this year. I was asked to make the bridesmaid’s dresses for a wedding in May, and that’s pretty much all I’ve been doing since November.

  4. Jo, it’s so true that necessity is the mother of invention. If that fabric had not been so special and beautiful, I might have just started over. I was very lucky that a. the stain was just 8″ from the cut back and b. that I had added extra inches to the backs. Whew! That was a bullet dodged.

    Don’t be too sad about not sewing for Easter this year. Bridesmaid dresses can be a real learning experience and your children will always remember the outfits you have made year after year. But I doubt they will remember that there was an Easter with store bought finery. I bet you are looking forward to being finished with those bridesmaid dresses.

  5. Janice, that was a masterful recovery. The dress turned out beautifully. If anyone might have noticed the seam, you could also add a wide satin ribbon bow/train or if you have enough fabric remaining craft a wide pleat train that drapes down the back and further camouflage this event. Your little Rose is adorable!

  6. Thanks, Deborah, for your kind remarks. I was so enchanted with the fabric that creative adrenalin kicked. Or maybe it’s just the pit bull in me that wouldn’t give it up. I’m filing away your great recovery suggestions for future disasters!

  7. from Martha Pullen forum: Fabulous dress and fabulous save! It’s accidents like this one that really call on all our sewing know how to remedy, you did a great job.

  8. from Sew Classic for Children: Simply lovely. Your work is so delicate.

  9. from Sew Classic for Children:Such lovely work and your granddaughter is adorable. Love the story.

  10. from Sew Classic for Children: Beautiful. I hope we get to see it on that precious girl soon.

  11. from Martha Pullen Forum:
    What a sweet dress…and child! I love what you did. The smocking just matches the fabric embroidery so beautifully. You have created a true heirloom! I know you were terribly distressed when you saw the stain, but your “fix” is perfect. I love it.

  12. from Sew Classic for Children: Love it! My grand daughter had a day gown made out the same eyelet. I still have at least 2 or 3 yards left.

  13. from Sew Classic for Children: Such a sweet bishop, and that is an exquisite piece of Swiss embroidery! I, too, have a piece of 27″ flounce aging in my stash. Mine is all white, though. Maybe this is the inspiration I need to finally cut into mine. I sometimes think about taking smocking or sewing to the salon, but decide it is probably best to stick with reading. Too many accidents waiting to happen! Glad you were able to figure out a solution!

  14. from Martha Pullen forum: Seems we can all relate to sewing disasters – especially last minute sewing projects. It is a beautiful dress. You did good, girl!

  15. from Martha Pullen forum: Beautiful dress – great use of that special fabric! You are, as usual, an inspiration, Janice.

    Such beautiful children – grandparenting is simply WONDERFUL!

  16. from Martha Pullen forum: How lovely it turned out! I’m sure she will enjoy wearing it, when the occasion arises.

  17. Karen Meredith

    The dress is beautiful, but I still am not sure what you did to fix the dye boo boo. I am impressed that you can turn out something so beautiful in so short a time. The kids are precious, too.

  18. Karen, I just cut away the 8″ up to the stain. That left me with one back 8″ narrower than the other. I had added 3″ to each back so it would be easier to match the scallops at the hemline. So by cutting 8″ away just beyond the stain, the left back was really only 5″ narrower than the pattern piece. There were 3″ extra on the right back. Two were cut away when I matched up the scallops at the hemline. So the back was only 4″ short of the pattern width. The two pieces were seamed, but that was not the center of the back. The pleating threads were retied and the placket inserted without a seam below.

    Bishop widths vary considerably. Years ago there was one named the “fitted” bishop with much less fullness. So even minus 4″ at the back, the dress was full enough.

    Let me know if this is clear or not. It would be much easier to show you than to explain it, but I can’t do that.

  19. from Martha Pullen forum: The dress is gorgeous! You would never know you had all the trouble! You did a wonderful job of
    correcting it. Really nice! And your dgs is adorable!! Very nice. Great job!

  20. from Martha Pullen forum: Your Dress if Darling! A real keepsake. Your disaster reminded me of one I had. And, your comment about Confession and absolution was what reminded me. I made our daughters cathedral length wedding veil with over 2,000 pearls and Swarovki crystals. I was near the end and as I worked, I could just hear my friends as she walked down the isle say, “Oh, her mom made that veil. It is beautiful. She is so talented!”…Guess what? I took a wrong cut and made it too short (I thought). I was devastated. I cried and cried. But, God was teaching me a lesson in Humility. It ended up being just the right length and I was reminded again that it isn’t about me. The gifts that I have been given are only from Him and not from me. OK enough pontificating. I just remember what it was like to make a big mistake and how in the end, it all worked out…just like your granddaughter’s dress. I had posted the story when it happened, 13 years ago on MP. I wonder if anyone reading this might remember. I will NEVER forget. 🙂

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