Oregon Ballet Theater-inspired Genzano flower festival dress

My daughter saw the School of the Oregon Ballet Theater’s Genzano costumes in the middle of 2014, and fell in love with what she called the peacock dress, and wanted one. What is a mama to say? 🙂 I took some costume notes (I had the opportunity to see the up close), and on the way home from the studio, got supplies. The skirt is five layers–green, navy, cream, green, cream–with a brown satin ribbon waistband. The bodice is lightly boned for structure, and is five panels of navy velvet with a wine piping, and hydrangeas decorating. The original bodices were either navy velvet (for the lead female dancer in this scene), or hunter satin, and closed with hooks. I wanted more versatility, so used grommets and lacing. These pictures were in downtown Portland just after OBT’s OBT Exposed event.  She wasn’t even five yet!

More photos in this Facebook album.

Nursery gown

For my daughter’s last day of school before winter break back when she was four, I made this nightgown and robe. It was pajama day, so of course…. Every year for her birthday I make her a nightgown anyway, and decided to make a robe to go with it this time.

The gown is a sweet bunny print flannel with elastic at the neck, waist, and sleeves, and a strip of lavender at the bottom as well as neck, waist, and bottom of the sleeves. The back has buttons, but they are only decorative. I did fold the fabric in back to mimic a button closure.

The robe is her favorite part of this. It’s shorter in the front than the nightgown, and sweeps into a slight train. It’s edged entirely in lavender floral Venice lace (this trim was somewhat pricy at $22 for how much was needed), and closes in the front with a big decorative hook. I also made the hair clips she’s wearing over each pig tail.

Little girl nightgowns are the best bang for the buck. These gowns will last through years of washing and wearing. All seams are at least double-sewn (I do NOT use a double needle, which would use the same thread for both rows on the bottom, and just isn’t as secure as separately sewing each), and some triple. A day gown wouldn’t look so nice with so much stitching, but night things are different, and night things get worn more often than a day dress.  She’s seven now, and though this robe is snug and short, she still wears it sometimes.

Several more pictures of this robe and gown are on this Facebook page, including without the robe and some detail shots.

Petite Belle

As a surprise for my daughter, her father, grandmother, and I planned a trip to Disneyland. She knew nothing. She had no idea we were getting on a plane until we were at the airport, and we managed to conceal the reason for our trip until we were at the hotel (literally just across the street from the park) until we were in the room and I had her surprise gowns laid out.  All five made in two weeks: Aurora, Ariel, Snow White, Belle, and Cinderella.

Here is a video of her finding everything out:

So on our fourth day, she was Belle! By a miracle, I managed to find nearly the same brocade as used on another Belle gown I made, and at the last moment, I found more of that bronze-gold organza, which works better than the yellow-gold I had bought when the bronze-gold was nowhere to be found. This one nearly goes without saying. I added straps of light gold to help the gown stay up. The skirt is tacked to the bodice, and so the weight needs more than the bodice boning on a child. The back laces, and the skirt is a full circle.

Despite the weight of the heavy brocade and crepe satin, the gown was cool to wear. The hoop under it helped with air circulation, and the bodice is, of course, sleeveless.

More photos are in this Facebook album.

Hand-sewn Georgian-era-inspired dress

Every stitch of this dress was hand-sewn, including the button holes. I used a printed cotton in a floral print that is modern rather than what would have been found in the mid-to-late 18th century.

The bodice, between the outer fabric and the lining, has 16 pieces, plus the lined two-part sleeves. The sleeves are each trimmed with yard of Venice lace. I carefully lined up the motifs on each so that, if pressed flat, the rose motifs are even. The unlined skirt has three rows of 1/4″ gimp trim that alternate in direction. The skirt has a very deep hem that covers the stitching on the backside that holds the trim in place. The neckline has 1/4″ gimp trim. Two pieces are used in opposite directions meeting in the middle. The waistline has 1/2″ gimp trim in the same fashion as the neckline so that the directions mirror each other. The neckline and waist both have crystal buttons in clear/white and black, and the six buttons on the back are large crystals.

I also made the silk floral hair piece, as well as the necklace and bracelet. The necklace and bracelet are genuine cultured pearls. These photos were taken in Buffalo, Missouri, on Easter 2012.

More photos are in this gown’s Facebook album.

Rainbow Dash


This dress was inspired by the My Little Pony character, Rainbow Dash. Dashy is a blue pony with a rainbow mane. Made of a polished blue cotton in regency styling, this dress takes an un-regency twist with a rainbow of buttons down the back. The sash can be tacked at the sides or left loose. The hair ribbon is on a spring-pin and is included. Every little one who loves her favorite pony needs something for her hair! Each pony will have a dress.

More photos are in this Facebook album.

Petite Phantom of the Opera Masquerade gown (film version)

Over 25 yards of fabric went into this little gown. There are layers underneath, including a petticoat and crinoline, in addition to what’s easily viewable. The bodice of this little gown is lightly boned not for constriction, but to help it with shaping. Otherwise the basque, that point in the front, would stick out as she moves. The seams are film-correct. The top is embellished with point d’esprit, two types of Venice lace, a dozen satin ribbon rosettes with Swarovski crystals, and shimmery tulle flutter sleeves. It hooks and eyes up the back. The original film gown zipped up, but I really didn’t want to use a zipper on this gown. The original gown’s trim also went further gown the bodice, but since a pint-sized princess’s body proportions are different than an adult’s, wider lace looked too heavy.

The skirt has the same shimmery tulle over it as the sleeves. Before bustling, the train was over eight feet from the waist. The bottom two rose sprays were made to match the film’s from location to color. The bottom one does have the same ribbon and lace, though I used a narrower ribbon. Again, a wider one just looked too heavy for a child’s proportions. The top spray is different from the film’s. Instead of two small tails with roses much smaller than used anywhere else on the gown, I decided to use three larger roses with a ribbon tie. I decided against the band of gathered tulle at the edge of the gown.  The original used a hoop skirt, which I didn’t use. Charlotte hadn’t had much practice in one yet, so I decided to skip it.  An adult version of this gown would include a hoop. Without one, you’ll get a bustle that looks later period, as this gown shows. At the front is a pink rose with ribbon on a pin. I did this, rather than sewing it directly onto the bodice, so that the front of the skirt can be hitched up, as shown in some of the photos. For a little one who wants to run, this makes it easier for her to do so without tripping.

Plus it shows off the petticoat! The bottom of the bright pink petticoat is pleated all around. It took a few yards cut into strips to make enough to go around! This petticoat has a sweep train. The crinoline only covers the sides and back to keep the front relatively smooth.

The necklace is genuine pink pearl, cultured, not freshwater, and AB Swarovski crystal with a sterling silver toggle clasp in the shape of a flower and curved stem. I made that too. Her tiara was a gift from a sweetheart named Lisa, and her gloves were from a shop here in town, though the fingers were too long and had to be altered down. She wore white pearl earring and silver glittered shoes.

These photos were taken at the Portland Art Museum. She was ridiculously excited to see the ancient Greek statues on special exhibit.

More photos are in this Facebook album.

Rainbow Dash dress

This dress was inspired by the My Little Pony character, Rainbow Dash. Dashy is a blue pony with a rainbow mane. Made of a polished blue cotton in regency styling, this dress takes an un-regency twist with a rainbow of buttons down the back.

The sash can be tacked at the sides or left loose. The hair ribbon is on a spring-pin and is included. Every little one who loves her favorite pony needs something for her hair! Each pony will eventually have a dress.

More photos are in this Facebook album.

Tiny Rapunzel

This is a semi-deluxe version of the gown, minus the embroidery. I had planned to do that by hand while my embroidery machine was in another state in storage, but never did.

This dress is three pieces (in the film, her gown would have been four pieces, a camisole that buttons up the back, the outer bodice that laces up the front, a lace-trimmed slip, and the skirt). I combined the camisole and bodice and made back-lacing with longer sleeves and skirt so that this dress can grow with her. The neckline, arms, waist, and solid fabric of the skirt, have pink satin cord. The wrists, neckline, and skirt hem have white lace, and the waist has pink lace. I couldn’t find suitable pink lace, so dyed some of the white.

The upper sleeves have six yards of ribbon between them. That took a surprisingly long time to do. The bodice and front skirt panel are a rose brocade, and the bodice inset, upper sleeves (under the ribbon), modesty panel, and rest of the skirt are matching solid bridal satins. The lower sleeves are doubled tulle. The bodice is entirely lined in light purple cotton except for the lower sleeves. As I said, this dress was made to grow with her. So the back laces over a modesty panel (so no skin will show) that matches the front inset. The skirt has a waistband that, at its smallest, is her current waist measurement. I inserted a godet where a zipper would usually go, and extended one side of the waist band a few inches. On the extended tab, I placed a few buttons so that it can be buttoned on the one most comfortable. The skirt and bodice have hooks and eyes to keep the bodice and skirt from separating when a little one decides to jump around and roll on the ground!

This gown was made for hard play, and so I took pictures nine months later to show how it wore with…well, if you’ve ever parented a child, then you know how much a child will wear their favorite thing.  To the grocery store, the fabric store, the book store, her therapy appointments…  She wore it everywhere.  In this gown’s Facebook album, you can see how well it held up.

Regency bonnet and spencer

July 29, 2012 was the 5th annual Oregon Regency Society picnic at Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon. New bonnet and spencer worn over her white regency duds already posted. The spencer is made of white cotton sateen that I dyed pink and made a bit large for growing room. Double-breasted and closes in front with four buttons. The bonnet has a straw brim. Under/in front of this, cotton sateen was pleated in one direction on top and the opposite direction on the bottom. On the top, it wraps around to the other wise. White gimp trim covers the stitch lines. White cotton sateen pleated on at the brim and gathered at the back both covers the outside and lines the inside. Decorating the bonnet is a white, double-faced pink ribbon on which five genuine ostrich feathers in pink and white were strategically placed asymmetrically without appearing to be “thought about too hard” (though in reality I sat there trying to decide whether or not I should add just one more feather until my husband convinced me, rightly, that it would give too much symmetry – oh, how much thought goes into making something look thoughtless!), and finished with a large, very high quality silk peony. I am extremely picky about the quality of fake flowers. I don’t like them to *look* fake, and most do. I think that something looking fake, even if it is, just ruins the look of the finished item. So I am pleased with the flower. My outfit for this picnic matched, including bonnet, though I did not get to finish the lining of my own spencer as I decided to meet up with friends the following morning for dressing, and so had to get up earlier than planned. Had I gone right to the picnic I could have finished, but the allure of girl-time in the morning was too great, and so I borrowed a beautiful shawl. I so rarely make anything for myself, so this was a treat!

More pictures are in this Facebook album.