What is it about getting dressed up? Why do girls love it? I have been sewing for my girls since they were little. I liked making what I had in my mind was a classic style. (Someday I’ll post their First Communion Dress. It was made out of a lovely white cotton that I smocked. I think it was the only dress with a collar and sleeves!)
There was definitely a point in which they preferred the dresses Grandma bought them over my handmade ones, but when we were searching for an appropriate dress for Confirmation, I was dismayed at the choices for a 12 year old. Everything dressy was strapless or skimpy. We did eventually find one that we all agreed upon, but at that point I realized I would continue sewing for them.
At the same age my daughter started playing piano for a Cleveland youth chorus. They practice weekly, up to four times a week, for a Christmas show and a spring show. The new show is debuted at the beautiful Allen Theater and then they continue to perform at many other venues throughout the area ranging from nursing homes and local community theaters to outdoor tree lightings and summer gazebo concerts. (My son has been playing for the chorus just a bit longer than my daughter – he plays piano, guitar, drums and sax.) The chorus members have very strict uniform codes – even when they travel or arrive at an event out-of-uniform, so I wanted to be careful to select something appropriate for my daughter.
Her first concert was in the spring. We chose this pattern:
Since I felt a pianist should be in black, we decided to make a simple cotton dress which was black with white polka dots. It had a fitted bodice and gathered skirt. She accessorized it with a red belt, shoes and necklace.
She, being practical-minded like her parents, continued to get plenty of use out of the dress. She wore it for Easter (matching her little sister), to her 8th grade graduation, and to many other events and concerts that year.
For the following Christmas, we decided to step it up a notch. The pattern was again simple:
I wanted to keep the color black, but selected a silk dupioni fabric to add a touch of glamour. We also went from sleeveless to a narrower, gathered sleeve. We made two wide belts, one in blue and one in green, that she changed for the various concerts that season.
The following spring, eyelets were all the rage. We decided to go with a simple eyelet fabric in a turquoise color. We used a brown, polka dot sash and brown accessories. To me, although not elegant, it was still appropriate for a 14 year old girl. (I can’t find an image for the pattern. It was Butterick BP214)
That summer, she turned 15. That was the summer we fell in love with James Mcavoy in “Becoming Jane” and she fell in love with Jane Austen. My husband and I (my daughter was not allowed) watched “Atonement” with Jame Mcavoy and Keira Knightley. The movie was somewhat disturbing, but I absolutely fell in love with this dress:
The kelly green shimmered, the bias cut flowed – everything about it said 1930’s glam. So that winter, in preparation for the Christmas concert, I had in mind a retro-style, bias-cut dress in kelly green. My daughter shared my vision (of course, we were going to try to find a pattern that was not skimpy and backless on top). We struggled to find a bias-cut pattern, but eventually found this “retro” pattern. It was not a true bias-cut, but it shared the feeling of one.
The outcome was what we were trying to achieve: a glamorous, elegant, floor-length dress.
The dress is greener than these photos show. (My photos suffer because they are taken late at night, usually after the con
certs, and I simply do not have the camera and/or photographic skills to capture these dresses properly.) The dress was a hit. She looked so elegant on the stage. Who says a pianist must always wear black!
Keeping in mind that the musician’s are not the focus of the show and balancing that with the motto: “it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission”, my daughter wanted something with more color for her spring show. We have steered toward short dresses for the spring concerts and this time chose a vintage 1950’s look.
She selected the color and I, again, chose silk dupioni. I love working with silk. It has a bit of give in it and lays so nicely. It has a sheen, but is not shiny. I think this is my favorite dress.
This year, Grandma (whose passion is to shop) found some fantastic formal dresses for $15. They looked beautiful on my daughter and, being the tired, old, mom that I am, I thought one of them would be perfect for her Christmas concert. But, “it’s tradition, Mom.” And I agreed. This year, my daughter wanted something girly and poofy, so she selected this Jessica McClintock pattern.
She chose a deep, cobalt blue and wanted the fabric overlay version – not the tulle version. It took oodles of yards of fabric and, with a bejewelled overlay, was not easy to gather. I added ribbon straps because she plays piano and also turns pages and it’s completely appropriate. And, it peeves me to see girls wearing strapless gowns always fussing with pulling them up. (I can’t tell you how often I see this at weddings.) My type-A-ness finds some flaws in this dress and the photos do not do it justice, but my daughter thought it was the “best one ever.” All the littlest girls in the chorus kept coming up to her and touching the dress. They thought she was a princess.
After all, didn’t we all want to be a princess at one time or another? Even this talented, smart, well-spoken, confident, daughter who wants to be a doctor, enjoyed being a princess. (I think this is why I enjoyed watching Kelly Osbourne so much on “Dancing With the Stars.” She seemed to transform into a princess throughout the show.)
Indeed, the sparkles on the overlay glittered like jewels. Here she is, along with my son and the other musicians taking a bow. (Yes, it’s blurry!)
I love this! It must be so nice to do this for your daughter! You are so talented- every one of those dresses is beautiful! I especially love the black polka-dot dress- I would totally wear that myself!
What a lovely fashion show you made for us :o) I love all the dresses!
Wow, I’m so impressed with your sewing skills. Your daughter is fortunate to have such a talented mom. I love all of the dresses, but particularly liked the green one based on the “retro” pattern. Thanks for sharing all of those gorgeous dresses.
I think I enjoyed watching Kelly Osbourne on Dancing with the Stars for the same reason. It was a joy to watch her transform in to an elegant lady and to see her much-deserved pride in herself.
You are very talented! I love seeing all of those lovely dresses. The hardest part about being the mother of boys is that sewing lost its luster rather quickly. I made them quilts, pillowcases and pajamas, but a mom can only sew so many things for boys. Bummer! Last year I did sew mp3 cases for them which you can see here: http://permissiontounwind.blogspot.com/2008/12/gifts-for-boys.html but mostly I don’t sew much for them anymore. 🙂
Handmade dresses beat store-bought any day!
Oh these are all SO beautiful! I remember every dress my mom ever made for me and without fail they were my favourite. What an amazing gift for your daughter 🙂
Wow, you are wonderful, a lot of hard work but sooo… beautiful I love sewing dresses for my girls. This past Easter I found vintage 50’s patterns, modified them a bit and made Easter dresses, I love them too!
Gorgeous dresses!!! My mom used to sew all of my clothes for me until I was ‘too cool’ for that. But now I wish I hadn’t asked her to stop! You are way talented!
What beautiful dresses… When I was younger I sewed most of my clothing… now I should again… one commodity is missing… the most precious of all…. time!
Thanks for showing off your gorgeous dresses!
You’re so right – there’s something about dressing up that makes a girl feel good about herself. My boyfriend and I arrange regular dates where he’ll put on a great suit and I get to pull out my rarely-worn heels. This is probably because we’re grad students and live like hermits, though. 😛
You’re incredibly talented – each of these dresses is gorgeous! I esp love the polka-dotted shift, and your daughter’s accessories made it the perfect outfit.
What beautiful dresses! Your daughter is a very lucky girl.
they are of course all wonderful – but I LOVE the polka dots! your daughter is lucky – she would never find something so perfect and unique each year in a store!
All of these dresses are gorgeous! Especially the glittery cobalt dress. It’s so special that you and your daughter work together to choose a pattern for each of her shows.
It is so hard to decide which are my favorites!!!!!!!……but I will go with the red dress and the blue princess…….love them all. You are a very talented woman, Jane! Thank you for sharing with all of us!!!!!
Thanks for sharing all of these!! They’re all beautiful.
I agree with you totally, my daughter is not yet five and I’m already dismayed at the things I see in her size (heels, on a 4-year old, really?) I hope she remains as happy with handmade as your daughters have!!
wow u have a great hand to do this, a magic hand!! and ur doing well with ur dau dresses 🙂
I LOVE them all of course…I especially love the bias cut…that vintage look! You are incredibly talented!
Gorgeous, every last one!