Two of the SWAP items in my daughter's SWAP were made before Christmas, and before I started blogging, or had even thought about making her a SWAP. I want to write about her Christmas dress, as it was an exploratory project for me, and I am using it as one of her SWAP items.
My daughter has been wearing smocked dresses since she was 18 months old, which is when I discovered smocking. She has had play dresses, church dresses, flower-girl dresses, every sort of smocked dress, and I am incredibly lucky that she is not sick of them. Last year, I made her a scaled up sundress from an Australian Smocking and Embroidery pattern "gidget" in a girl's size 12,and told her that I thought it would be her last smocked dress, as she was growing out of little girl dresses. She was accepting of this, but not very pleased. I have not done any adult smocking other than nightdresses, and had not been terribly inspired by the adult garments I had seen to that point. Fortunately for me, shirring and smocking was very popular in teenage and adult garments in Australia this year. My daughter adamantly refused to consider any of the "pretend smocking" garments her friends were wearing, and asked me to make her a smocked dress to wear at Christmas, as usual. We did some snoop shopping, but didn't really like anything we saw, so came up with our own pattern. My daughter chose a pink and white cotton hibiscus print, and we used lime and white striped cotton bias to trim the neckband and armholes. The dress is lined with the hibiscus print fabric.
I started by drawing a simple sleeveless bodice from a butterick pattern. I then modified the neckline and front of the garment to allow the design features I wanted. I widened the front bodice so that I could have the upper bodice gathered to the neckband and to a contoured band of white cotton pique just under the bust. The back bodice is longer, finishing just above the waist to a band. The front of the band is hand embroidered and beaded.
I have used 3 widths of fabric for the front and back skirts, attached to each other with a very narrow seam. I pleated 24 rows for the smocking, and smocked the front and back as one piece, using shades of lime green, pink and white DMC stranded embroidery thread. I used a simple trellis pattern, finishing the bottom row with a repeat to help hold the pleats at this stress point. I added smocked flowerettes and beading to the front of the smocking.
Due to the design of the smocked skirt, the dress opens at the side seam. I used an invisible zipper, inserted up-side down so that the pull does not rub under the arm whilst the dress is being worn.
Since making this dress, I have tried more teen and adult garments. I made a top with a smocked insert for my daughter's SWAP that is very popular with her, and after seeing Marji's and Claudine's fabulous adult smocked dresses since starting to read at Stitcher's Guild, I am considering making a smocked dress for myself.