28 August 2011

More Mango’s Spoils!

I continue with my mission to bulk up the wee girl’s wardrobe with ample prettiness.  This blog brings you more needlecord and some sugary sweet floral action. And a lot of pink. Quite frankly a deluge of pink!


Here’s the pattern:  Its a simple long-sleeved A-line dress and a pinafore dress (with or without ruffle trims) and worn either together or separate.  Its aged 18 months, madam is 24 months so out came the grading ruler and greaseproof paper and I graded it up (and as she’s “small” for her age that means ample growing room!).

I made both views to complement each other, but also to be worn separately.  I chose to make the dress a tunic length blouse instead so she could wear it over jeans. Especially since most of summer has gone now! My mother made me a whole collection of simple frocks in different colour floral fabrics when I was a tot, so it gives me some nostalgia to do the same for my daughter!


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I’m trying to add a little embellishment of different types to each project (oil those rusty techniques!) and for the blouse I chose twin-needle top-stitching and pintucks, a favourite of mine, especially for children’s clothes.


L-R:  Defined pintucks (sewn over fine cord) – Narrow stitching using twin needle and pintuck foot as guide over double layer of fabric – Semi-defined pintucks using just foot & twin needle and some tension in single layer fabric.

I used my 7 groove pintuck foot and 2.0mm twin needle. The center front pintucks of the blouse are stitched two groves apart over embroidery thread to add definition and texture. [I’ve been trying to get a pintuck blade that adds shape without thread. Finding the Holy Grail might prove an easier task.]


The shoulder details aren’t pintucks but a narrow top-stitching effect done with the 7G pintuck foot as a guide for the twin needle (because they’re stitched over the seam fabric the fabric pulls taut and needs help for definition such as cord, thread or blade).


I kept the twin needle top-stitch theme going on the cuffs, hem and neckline which is also finished with bias tape in hot pink just peeping over the top.

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The hem is double rolled using the hemming foot included with my machine.  I discovered the hard way that it couldn’t cope with double hemming over the seams by smashing two needles. I ended up doing those sections by hand then top-stitching them on the machine to look consistent.


And talking of seams, I pretty much made this dress back to front. Not in the “oh no, where’s the seam ripper?” sense but in that I first finished off all the edges of the pieces with the overcast foot on my machine before sewing them together(yup, just couldn’t be bothered to thread up the serger).  Its not as neat as serging, but it looks cute all the same and reminded me of dainty hankies.


In the photo you can just make out the zigzag stitches on the hem where I hand-basted them then top-stitched over the hem with pink thread on the machine.

Instead of fastening the blouse with buttons, I opted for snaps.  This was for two reasons, the first that I couldn’t find any buttons that suited it and secondly because I was already thinking snaps would make life a bit easier.  I find buttons on children’s clothing quite frustrating.  Most days I struggle to get a top onto Miss Mango, never mind try to do up the buttons while madam wriggles around and tries to escape. Snaps just seem so much easier.  If I find good buttons I might add some mock ones onto the back.


And to finish off, a Molly and Mango label, this time on bias binding. I wasn’t going to make one for the blouse, didn’t feel like it needed one but I talked myself into it:


The pinafore dress is hot pink needlecord (from someone’s stash clear-out on eBay) and the ruffle details are in the same fabric as the blouse as is the self-covered buttons (yes, I did use buttons this time).

I echoed the narrow stripe top-stitching on the shoulders only.


The self-fabric buttons are fastened with thread loops.  Do modern patterns still use these?  I love the fact that the instructions give no aid at all to how thread loops are made, they just expect you to know. But they are easy-peasy and quite therapeutic too, reminds me of the cat’s cradle type games I played as a kid.  I could sit for hours making long chains of these, maybe I need to take up crochet! 

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I felt inspired to break up the sea of hot-pink with more detailing in the form of pockets.  I made these from the pattern piece used for the sleeve ruffles.  I used a rolled hem on the whole piece.  I ended up hating these pockets and I still don’t like them now, thoroughly put off trying them again!

My intention was to sew elastic thread along the top to make the gathered opening stretchy but after turning the sewing room upside down, I cannot find my elastic thread.  In the end, I made a casing for narrow elastic which works fine but then I had a helluva time trying to get them look symmetrical.

The facing is also in floral fabric (I love pretty contrast facings).  I did not manage to sew the sleeve ruffles into the facing section. Okay I did, but it was because I was stewing over why the instructions said to sew the facing at the neck only, press in 5/8 around the shoulders and sides then flip to wrong side of fabric and hand slipstitch the facing in place around shoulders and sides. Sounds like a lot of unnecessary work and I proved that by machine stitching the facing down then pulling the back pieces through under the facing to flip the garment right side out. Worked perfectly fine. (Except for sewing the sleeve ruffles into the facing…).


I love the sleeve ruffles, such a cute vintage detail, almost every girl’s pattern from the 40s and 50s seem to offer it as an option as well being popular well into the 70s. It often makes an attractive detail on ladies’ patterns of the 40s but I’m not quite sure that is a look a grown woman could pull-off? What do you think? Would you?


I didn’t enjoy sewing the ruffle trim either. Gathering and ruffling is my sewing nemesis. I’d happily sew in a hundred zips of any variety and do another 100 buttonholes than gather or ruffle, I’ve decided!  I’ve had no success with the monster ruffling foot and the gathering foot has failed to impress me. I guess I must battle on though as they make a great detail. 


The verdict?  While Miss Mango said “Oooooooooh! Wowwwww!” (Not the most verbose two-year old I know, probably a good thing!). She immediately insisted on wearing the blouse, despite it being almost bedtime and wore it for two days in a row, its gone for its inaugural wash now, covered in yoghurt, orange juice and whatever else two-year old’s roll in! The pinafore dress is made of sturdy stuff and successfully survived its first wearing too!

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Its heartening to see her like these so much, she flat out refuses to wear the uber-cute pink and white dungarees I made her [which are now pink and pink after my mum did some laundering for me…. Disappointed smile ] and another pair of trousers I made earlier in the year. Its actually really hurtful when a toddler throws a hissy fit because she does.not.want.to.wear.what.you.made.for.her!  Just wait until you’re old enough to understand emotional blackmail, Mango!


  1. I am in admiration of your work - the attention to detail to create such adorable dresses! Your model is precious and beautiful!

  2. Ditto! The detailing on these gorgeous little garments is incredible. I know full well the contraryness of little girls. I completely understand how disheartening it is. My mum refused to make me anymore clothes, at the point when I was just coming round to appreciate them!