It’s quite possible that hidden inside of most sewists is a desire to make dresses for little girls. I’m don’t even think it stems from a longing to put clothing on a small being. It’s really about two factors with irresistible appeal, 1) little girl dresses look great in fun fabrics and 2) they don’t involve complicated fitting issues. Basically, kid bodies are popsicle sticks and little girls look adorable in every print known to the universe. Whether or not one gets to follow through on this perfect sewing storm depends on circumstance and for me the circumstances rarely arrive. It’s the downside of having two wild boys.
I could feel the pull to make a girly dress getting stronger, though, when I received the Sundressing book and it was full of so much cuteness for little girls. So many cute dresses! I hatched a little plan to make one for a friend’s daughter but didn’t realize it was going to turn into an all-around magical adventure. My friend Sabrina is a super talented photographer and we decided on a swap…she would spend a few hours giving me a one-on-one photography lesson and I would make her daughter a dress. What a win. I really want to improve my photography so I was thrilled she agreed. All of these gorgeous photos are hers, by the way, I’ve not mastered it yet! But, I’m really hoping that as I work with her, you will start to notice the difference. By the way, don’t miss exploring her website, it’s stunning and heartwarming.
In partnership with her gorgeous and vivacious daughter we decided on the Littlefield dress from the Sundressing book by Melissa Mora*, as I mentioned. The dress has a fully-lined bodice with faux button detail on the yoke and waist. I added french seams to the whole dress so it has no exposed seams. I wanted it to be easy for the dress to be washed. My friend Avery here is a tree-climbing, ocean wave jumping, nature exploring, pink dress loving girl and I wanted her to be able to wear this dress in real life. An overly delicate dress just wouldn’t do.
With all the good things to share about this dress, the story of the fabric is the most magical. Believe it or not, I found this spectacular, lively fabric at a thrift store as uncut yardage. It had been stitched together in a few random places but I was able to easily unpick the stitches and use it like any other fabric. Not only that but the selvedge indicated that the fabric is GTP from Ghana. That means that I randomly found designer fabric from Ghana for next to nothing at the thrift store. It was a textile-lovers dream come true.
Textiles have a fascinating and rich history in Ghana. I knew a bit about the significance of local textiles in West and Central Africa before finding this fabric but I learned a lot in the process of researching my unusual find. Most of what people think of as typical African wax prints originally come from a Dutch company Vlisco, GTP is the Ghanese-produced arm of Vlisco. Despite European origins, the fabrics make up a significant part of the West and Central African fashion. Each print is assigned a distinct meaning based in current events, religion or other cultural messages and wearing the fabric can be a way of communicating what’s on your mind. For example, a popular print shows a little bird flying out of a cage and it is called ‘you fly, I fly’ meaning if you cheat on me and leave this marriage, I will do the same. Imagine a dress in that! Another print features Michelle Obama’s purse. This post does a great job of showing off just how beautiful, vibrant, modern and playful these prints are. Plus, it includes my (new) favorite compliment in fabric form; a print of sugarcane translated to mean ‘I love you like sugarcane’. I mean, c’mon, I love you like sugarcane!
I haven’t been able to find any information about this particular print in all my research though. At first I was bummed about that but I’ve decided it’s ok to see it for what it has become. A happy starry pink dress for one of my favorite people. I love thinking about how this fabric ended up at the thrift store and why and what it had been before. What a mystery! And, here it is with a whole new life ahead of it.
Dressmaking Details: The dress came together fairly easily, though it wasn’t the quickest dress to make. I had a tough time with the faux yoke. The pattern instructions flummoxed me for some reason and I had to re-draw the yoke portion twice. As I noted in my previous review of this book, each dress works off a single sloper and you need to draw and adapt depending on the dress you are making. For me that means it’s more of a go-slow-and-pay-attention type of process. I learn a lot but it takes more time than usual.
I lined the bodice with voile so it would be slinky and smooth against the skin, I used the ‘rave on’ print by Avril Loreti for Cloud 9 fabrics.
*This post includes an amazon affiliate link. If you purchase something after clicking this link, I make a few cents and you help support my fabric habit. Thanks! I love you like sugarcane.