Vivi’s Cruise Dress

Almost 7 yo Vivian Rose is tiny. A size 5 Children’s Corner Louise would have fit her ever so much better. She poses in Central Park on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas cruise ship.

Life has been a whirlwind for us these past few weeks. Of course, Hurricane Dorian was expected for a very long time and preparations were non-stop. With 3 acres of patio furniture, potted plants, a standing basketball hoop, pool, and other miscellany, it seems there is always more you can do to prepare for a Cat 5 hurricane.

My fabulous husband, Bob, up on first story roof to put up storm shutters on second story windows. Already the skies were gray.

Additionally, I spent more hours in front of the television than I have in the past year. The weather and each of Dorian’s tiny turns to the east and then the west were monitored vigilantly. The weather had never seemed so important.

But living 30 miles inland from the coast, we were spared. Our damage amounted to two downed palm fronds and a few clumps of Spanish moss. But days were spent waiting and watching Dorian’s painfully slow progress as it viciously battered the Bahamas and inched up the Florida coast. We thanked God for His mercy, prayed for the poor Bahamians who were suffering bitterly, and prayed for those still in the storms path.

We had a cruise to the Bahamas scheduled for Sept. 2 and that was cancelled, of course. By the time the storm passed, we were rebooked on a cruise which departed from Port Canaveral Sept. 5, just 30 hours after we received confirmation.

The purpose and highlight of the cruise was spending time with our two younger grandchildren, 10 yo Alastair, 6 yo Vivian Rose, and their parents. We had a fabulous time.

The “cruise” dress I made in such a rush for Vivian Rose was done well before the hurricane was due to make landfall. Inspired by a gorgeous dress made by famous smocking plate designer Terry Collins, I ordered the fabric the very day she posted her dress on-line. The pattern is Children’s Corner Louise.

This is a terrific pattern, a blank canvas for a variety of embellishments. Or it is lovely as shown as a jumper or sundress. The bodice is fully lined.

While making this, I faced many of the problems familiar to those of you whose grandchildren do not live nearby.Though Vivi soon will be 7, she is very tiny. Yet her mother declared that she wears a size 6 and that’s what I should make. So I did.

Obviously it it too large in every respect except the length. You can see the gaping armholes in the first picture.

There was also an 8″ discrepancy between the length her mother recommended, based on her measurement of a dress Vivi liked. With the border print requiring a faced hem, an accurate length was important as there was no option for a generous hem.  With the 1/8″ stripe, I felt certain I could not make growth tucks that would look good. So instead of the 21″ length recommended by my daughter and the 29″ length recommended by the pattern, I went with 26″.  It’s a good thing Vivi likes her dresses short for easy maneuverability because this may soon require leggings. I wish I had made it longer.

On this dress I was especially grateful to have learned a great technique in Maggie Bunch’s Ode to Joy great on-line class. The border print runs along the selvage so there is just one seam. The fullness of the skirt depends on the repeat of the border pattern. By precisely matching the pattern where the single seam meets makes the seam almost invisible. I wish I had taken a picture of that, but I had Dorian on my mind. It really is a great technique, best taught in greater detail by Maggie.

It seemed that for a cruise, an embroidered sailboat on the bodice would be just right. After a lengthy search, I found the perfect sailboat at AnnTheGran’s site.The embroidery on the bodice was edited considerably in my Brother Dream Machine 2 in order to mimic the sailboat in the border scene.

The original design is sized at 2.13″ x 1.97″. On my Brother Dream 2 machine, it has been enlarged to 6.92″ x 4.97″, mirror imaged, colors changed, background sky eliminated. A ball has been added to the top of the mast and three coral dots embellish the side of the boat, just as shown on the original. I wish I had scanned the border with the sailboat showing. As it is, if you look closely you can see it in the skirt fold near the bottom.

Because the ribbon is so wide, the embroidery had to be moved up toward the neck. It could not be centered on the bodice. Again I was reminded why it is so important to gather all supplies before beginning a project.

I wanted a ribbon sash to tie in the back, thinking that could take up any excess width at the waist. In all of central Florida, the only ribbon in the perfect color was this 2.5″ wide grosgrain. But I could not tie a decent bow with that wide ribbon! And I knew for certain my daughter would not be able to tie one with wiggly, impatient, eager-to-get-on-with-her-busy-little-life Vivian.

So I stitched soft velcro to the ribbon and to the dress on either side of the center back opening at the waist. Of course, that covered the button at the waist but the velcro made it accessible. A bow (not tied) was stitched to the ribbon. It was not a perfect solution, but by then a “working” solution was good enough for me.

The wide sash and stitched on bow made a less than perfect solution, but it worked. The waist is very loose,leaving plenty of growing room.

She and Alastair both tried to scale the 4 story climbing wall, though she gave up about half way when her little hands were just too tired. Alastair made it further but not to the top. Sadly, we only have video of the climb and I can’t figure out how to extract a single frame. You can see she is an active, adventurous little girl.

Wearing her climbing wall harness.

Saturday she dressed for Gator game day as she and Alastair played miniature golf on the ship. He is wearing a “matchy matchy” cruise shirt just like his grandfather’s. The size is a man’s small and he’s just a 10 yo boy, but that was the smallest size it came in. He wanted to match the one he chose for his grandfather’s birthday, which we celebrated at sea. Someday it will fit him.

A family cruise is so much fun. I had some quiet smocking time on the balcony of our stateroom and an excuse for another sewing project for Vivian Rose.Then there was all that quality time with our family. Sooooo wonderful.

What are you up to? What are you sewing? We’d all love to hear about it.

Disclaimer: I’ve got to say it: I am a paid Brother Ambassador. And I love it! (I’m not required to say that.)

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