Flower Girl Dress

This dress was completed for my daughter, Nora, to wear in her uncle’s wedding in June, 2008.


Silk dupioni flower girl dress, from the Pascal pattern printed in the Issue 114 – September/October 2007 of Sew Beautiful magazine, with hand embroidery and beading, modeled by the lovely Nora.

This dress was made from the Pascal/Alice Blue Gown pattern from Sew Beautiful (second cover down on that page), but without the smocking. It was my intention to smock the bodice, but then I realized what a pain hand-pleating the fabric really is and decided to embroider it instead.

The fabric is silk dupioni, in a sage green color. It looks alternately gray or gold depending on the light and presence of a flash, but outside in the sunshine is definitely green.

Here’s the bodice marked up with tailor tacks for embroidering:


And two perfectly piped sleeves that I finished today with the help of a Threads magazine article on how to get your piping to stay flat (lots of hand basting, but worth it!):


And here is the back of the gown, folded in half — the amount of skirt you can see is only a quarter of the fullness. You can vaguely see a picture of the back of the original dress in the magazine on the table.


There will be embroidery on the back bodice as well. More on that process as it progresses this week.


I started with a sample piece of the silk dupioni fabric, backed with Floriani Dream Weave interfacing to keep the silk from shredding, and a variety of threads, beads, and stitches (slightly out of focus, but you get the idea):


and decided that the feathered buttonhole “vine” with french knots and pearl beads was the prettiest for a flower girl. The other bands are just too dense, particularly with the ribbon that will be used as a sash on the dress, though I’ll remember them for other projects.

So here’s just the vine for the neckline, before the knots, done with two strands of DMC floss:


(And yes, that is my lap, on the couch, in front of the TV — the best way to do handwork without noticing quite as much how long it can take!)

And with the french knots, but before the beads, done with a pale green Caron silk:


And here is the bodice almost completely embroidered — it just needs the pearl beads on the bottom line. The sash will go below that, which is a one-sided feathered buttonhole stitch. I’ll use the same pattern on the back, on either side of the button placket.


My hands are hurting this morning, from keeping the stitches so uniform and tying all of those knots. When I was younger, doing cross-stitch kits, I just couldn’t figure out how to do french knots, but now I really like them.

I like the way this is turning out; I think it’s better this way than it would have been smocked.

Here’s a closeup of the bodice with the ribbon, once the embroidery was done but before constructing the dress:


And the back, without the ribbon:


And the front of the whole dress just before packing it for the trip:


And the back:


And the all-important twirl test of more than 150″ of hem with two petticoats underneath: