For Pascha (also known as “Orthodox Easter”) 2019, I made matching dresses for my two older daughters! These projects were full of “firsts” for me, and some of those firsts were extremely frustrating. However, I powered through and got it done, much to my own surprise!!
Pattern: I used a vintage Simplicity pattern #4275 (circa 1950s), however I greatly altered the assembly method. So while I did use the pattern pieces, I made two different dresses and layered the sheer version (view 1 on the pattern envelope) on top of the opaque version (view 3), and I added a lining that was not in the directions at all.
Fabric: For the opaque base layer, I used the “Royal Blue Plain Dyed Polyester Taffeta” from Mood Fabrics at $9.99 a yard (58″ wide). For the translucent top layer, I used “Royal Iridescent Nylon Organza” at $5.99 a yard (44″ wide). The lining was made of a robin’s egg blue cotton woven that I have massive amounts of in my stash… I got it from my grandmother, and that’s all I really know about it!
Notions: All notions for this project were also from Mood. Buttons are GORGEOUS (and quite heavy!) Italian Beige Mother of Pearl Shank Back Button (13mm $1.74 each). I ended up not using buttons on the front of the dress as pictured on the pattern envelope, because the buttons were heavier than I expected. The smaller size would have been darling, but I decided there was enough going on with the dress already . Thread is 260 Primary Blue Gutermann Sew-All Thread
Extra Info: Where to begin? This was a really nightmarish project, and I won’t sugar-coat it for you. I cried real tears many times, and experienced a great deal of despair and self-loathing during the construction process. It all started with the fact that, not only had I never used/tested this pattern before, I also deliberately did not follow the directions and made life more complicated for myself by actually cutting two dresses and trying to combine them myself. This was especially tricky around the neckline because the dresses had very different necklines. The base dress (view 3 on the pattern envelope) called for seam binding to finished the edges of the arm-holes and neckline. I took the time to make my own bias tape with the blue taffeta (another nightmare, please keep reading), but I could not manage to master the technique and it kept turning out sloppy. While attempting to remove the bias tape and try again, I ripped the fabric of the bodice entirely, and ended up needing to cut a new one (thankfully I did have enough taffeta leftover). I ended up finishing the edges by using a lining… and I’m sure First-Born appreciated a cotton lining anyway, instead of having scratchy polyester all over her torso. These complaints all flow so nicely to the next subject: the fabric itself. I have never worked with taffeta (polyester or otherwise) in my life, and only used organza once (for a princess dress for our realtor’s daughter… it’s on my Instagram if you fancy a scroll), so I can’t really say if all taffetas and organzas behave this way. Let me tell you, and I cannot emphasize this enough: this taffeta frays constantly merely by looking at it. I suppose the good thing about this being polyester, is that it was relatively easy to work around this… I started keeping a lighter on my sewing table, and right after every single cut to the taffeta, I would quickly run the flame near the edge of the material and melt the edge together. Use this technique with caution, lest you send your whole project up in flames. The organza was also prone to fraying, but I did expect it, and it wasn’t half as bad as the taffeta. However, this particular organza would get snagged very easily… much like the nylon stockings I used to splurge on… is this just typical with nylon in general?? The organza I used for Second-Born was much more user-friendly.
All-in-all, this dress is riddled with mistakes and poor-workmanship… perhaps I should call it “inexperienced-workmanship”… but my daughter cried when she tried the completed dress on for the first time, and kept going on about how she felt like a real princess, like Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia (she is going through a Romanov phase)………… so I accept this a hard-won victory, and certainly a valuable learning experience.