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Monday, February 20, 2012

Smocked Denim Dress

 A couple of years ago I bought a piece of figured denim at a Spotlight 'end-of-roll' sale thinking it would make a dress for Brigid. I liked the butterflies and asterisk-like pattern.
I have just made it up for her 9th birthday, using the Gypsy Dance pattern from AS&E Issue 86 that I had already made in original fabric .

I should have figured out before I started that denim doesn't pleat that well!
I destroyed 5 pleater needles in the effort - the first time I have broken a needle in the 15 months I have had the pleater, so I guess it was time to learn what to do. The needles didn't like the figures on the denim. I ended up with four broken rows of pleating out of 17 and picked them up by hand.

I used the figures on the denim to select thread colours, including some variegation to assist the grading. Perle thread would have been best, I think, but I got better gradation of colour using stranded.

Given the pleating difficulties I decided to stick with the same smocking pattern as the original Gypsy Dance design, which is a two-needle cross-over diamond pattern that only stitches into the pleats every second row. This made it easier to deal with some of the bumpy bits than a finer pattern would have.

My original intention was not to use binding strips or piping between the tiers, but I changed my mind as the dress progressed. I bought some mauve piping from Hetty's Patch and found a piece of batik fabric in my stash that seemed perfect.
Making up the dress was not difficult - just the usual yards and yards to be gathered to achieve the tiers. I remember the watermelon-pink dress with a three-tiered skirt my mother made to please me when I was about 8. She shed more than three tears getting the three tiers in place!

Orange star buttons pick up the asterisky pattern.  As all the bias strips and the hem had to be stitched down by hand, it was quite a lot of hand-stitching, but I find that quite relaxing.

The project was completed with a calico bag to cover the dress, rather than fold and wrap it. I figure it will be useful somewhere along the way for transporting a costume to school.

Brigid was happy, and one of her sisters was entranced.


Monica said...

That batik is perfect! Isn't nice when the right fabric is already in your stash?

Anonymous said...

You're a braver woman than me pleating denim LOL. I would have gone NO WAY! It has come together beautifully as always and I love the batik that you used. Such a pretty dress

Jillian said...

I think 'braver' is very kind, Katherine. I simply didn't think - just plunged right in. It was only when the fabric got into the pleather that I realized there would be a problem. Not bright, I'm afraid.

Karyn said...

Well done on pleating the denim. I broke so very many needles when i first got me pleater, so you have done well if these are the first you have broken.
Imlove the photo of the little girl sitting looking at the drews; so'sweet.