Monday, January 31, 2011

The Fashion Show Project: Sydney's Dress

Let me begin by saying that yes, I am as horrified by Toddlers and Tiaras as you are, and no, I have no desire to ever walk on a runway, myself. Like wearing make-up, dresses of any sort, or basically anything other than jeans, T-shirts, hoodies, and combat boots, runway modeling is just another one of those girl-type dreams that I had nothing to do with.

For my little girl, however, it's another story entirely, as fashion is queen in her four-year-old mind, and so, bravely smiling but with many secret qualms, I entered us into our town's Trashion/Refashion Show.

I like the idea of showing Sydney that real fashion is, at its essence, about creation, not consumerism. That fashion design is empowering. That dressmaking is a skill, and an art. Never mind that I don't really care about real fashion--the kid does, so that's where we're homeschooling for a while. Whether or not our ensembles are chosen for this juried show, it's now our mother-daughter project to refashion ourselves a couple of runway outfits.

I put Syd in charge of visualizing her design. Here it is:

Please pay particular attention to the tall crown, the color scheme of bright fuschias and purples, the sleeve and arm detailing, and the butterfly wings. Those will be important later.

For a refashion entry, the entire ensemble must be constructed almost entirely from fabrics originally constructed for another purpose. Syd and I went to Goodwill one fine Sunday and found the perfect selection of fabrics for her design. We chose one main fabric, the centerpiece of her design, and then two other fabrics for detailing and accessories. I was worried that Syd would want to adhere so strictly to her original drawing that we wouldn't be able to find anything that would match closely enough, but the true trouble lay in dissuading her from being so delighted in every single thing that she saw that she wanted to completely alter her design to fit every new fabric. The main fabric, however, was an easy pick--here it is, just graduated from its former life as a woman's skirt:
Here it is, reincarnated:
I chopped off the skirt on both sides and then sewed it back together to fit Sydney's high chest measurement. I kept the entire length of the skirt, and so the dress is now about knee-length on Syd. The skirt had an invisible zipper in the back, which is now the zipper to the dress--I goofed on my seam allowance a bit, and so the dress is alarmingly snug, but Syd says it's comfortable, and fortunately the fashion show, if our outfit is chosen, is in just a couple of months.

Out of the extra material that I cut off of the sides, I preserved an entire length of the lace-embellished fabric--I finished the seam on either side of it and used it as a halter strap for the dress:
The tulle shrug is sewn across the entire length of the halter strap; it used to be part of the skirt's underskirt, shown here:
I like the extra bit of tulle at the neck because it covers Syd's shoulders, and I think it looks really nice from the back:
Syd is THRILLED with her outfit so far, and I'm relieved that it turned out so well. There were a couple of shaky moments during construction, and if our outfit is chosen for the fashion show I plan on bringing my entire sewing arsenal in case of last-minute emergencies.

Next up--a crown!


Miranda Jacobs said...

Oh my! I'm generally a jeans and hoodie type too, but it's mocs instead of boots. However, I am in love with that dress! I'd never take it off if I were her, once the show is over anyway.

julie said...

Considering that I'm a little afraid I'll have to stitch it onto her at the show, I'll def leave it on as long as possible afterwards! I've had to hide it now, so that she can't wear it out before we know if we're in the show or not.

In the summer, I generally do Converse. I may switch to mocassins--they sound comfy.

Stephanie said...

t-shirt and yoga pants, here.
no shoes, usually. :)

Wow! Nice work making it happen!! I bet she's over the moon.

julie said...

Ooh, yeah, yoga pants! I'm a big fan of old-school men's sweat pants, when I can find them at the thrift store.

Now Syd's mostly griping about when we're going to get to her butterfly wings and princess crown! We're iced in, though, so I can't go dumpster-diving for the wire coathangers that I need, so I think I'll have to get her interested in helping me with my outfit.