a summer dress

Today, like every day, Ava’s first request was to put on a dress. I’d managed to complete a summer dress for her last night, so this morning, she was very excited to find a new dress hanging up in her room, ready for wearing, twirling, exploring.

You might ask, does this little girl need a new dress? Does she not have a ridiculous amount already? Well, yes, but a Mama-made dress…surely there can’t be enough of those.

It has been over 8 weeks since I sewed anything. 8 weeks! When I first got this sewing machine shortly before Ava’s 1st birthay, I launched into my first project – an Autumn quilt for Ava, and other birthday bits and bobs – a felt crown from Amanda Blake Soule’s ‘Creative Family’, a dress from Clothkits (so, so easy to put together for a complete beginner). And after a month of quilting and sewing, I was hooked. (Hands-on learning about something you love? The best) I don’t think I’ve had such a long break since.

But you know, new babies and such. So it was I was beginning to feel twitchy. My intention to knit and nurse was not nearly as easy as I had imagined. The trousers I had cast on for Ezra lay half-completed, as do several other projects. But yesterday, with the aid of a helpful husband and sleepy baby, I got to make this dress – from Jennifer Paganelli’s ‘Girl’s World’. The ‘Josie Dress’.

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I am very pleased with it. I love nautical fabric – navys and reds and whites are my favourite colours for girls.

I made it in a size 4 – 5 because more often than not I find patterns on the small side, however this was actually quite generous in sizing, which means it will need slight adjusting. Just a little shortening of the straps and taking in of the bodice.

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(I asked Ava if I could take some photos of her so she added the bunny ears and umbrella and walked theatrically around the living room…)

But Ava loves it. And I love it.

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It’s all cotton, of course – broderie anglaise bodice, nautical sailboat cotton for the waistband and sash, and a heavier navy cotton for the skirt.

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I like the gathered detail at the bodice.

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The sewn in waistband and sash.
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And I added a little trim to match the bodice too, which I think ties it together well.

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So, another dress, another day. And now I’ve started again, there’s so much more to sew. Summer trousers for Ezra! My much loved Cute-as-a-button booties! And I must find projects for all that beautiful caramel and pink tartan waiting to be used. I think a new bubble dress and some new cushion covers for the living room to start.

Yesterday, I got a lot of help from Ms A, who declared, ‘I love dresses. Ava make one for Mama’. She measured and drew on ribbons, wound and unwound thread. I love watching her imitate, repeat, explore. I love seeing her learn through this kind of play. It reminds me of how I learnt to sew. Throwing myself into a project I loved – that meant something to me, and completing Ava’s Autumn quilt. I learnt so much on that first quilt – nearly all the sewing basics, tricky techniques, tricks and so on. I learnt because I wanted to, and because it excited me to do so. It was fun.

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Ava knows all this already. The world is her classroom, and I hope, will always be.

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About Kendal

I'm Kendal Mosley-Chalk. I live in York with my husband and four children.
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