Because I was busy testing patterns for the baby, which took a few weeks, I didn’t make a birthday dress for my daughter when she turned 5. She wore the maxi Sullivan dress that I made her 1.5 years ago — her own choice as that’s still one of her favourite dresses. It still fits because she’s been growing more horizontally than vertically.
When I saw the call for pattern testers by The Wolf and the Tree, I jumped at the opportunity immediately. My second pattern test, 2 years ago, was for the Abby’s Road Trip Tunic. I was drawn to the inspiration pic of the maxi dress with pastel rainbow stripes (it was the back view). I found out later that the picture belongs to Pleiades Designs. It might actually be a hi-lo dress, judging from other pictures like this one. The pattern bears many similarities to it, but one key difference is that piecing is required to get the rainbow effect.
I didn’t make the hi-lo dress in the end but I did make the Abby’s Rainbow Skirt mashed with the bodice of the Rainbow Dress. To clarify, the dress pattern is for a hi-lo dress with long straps that are passed through two back loops and tied into a bow. You can choose to make it plain or with rainbow stripes. The skirt pattern is for a straight skirt (think rectangular front and back pieces), with or without stripes again. Both patterns include an optional bottom band. The skirt can be finished with a knit waistband or woven elastic casing.
I didn’t think my fabric prints were suitable candidates for the dress and I immediately thought of 2Quilters, who had recently stocked up on the whole collection of Kona cotton solids — all 342 colours! Thanks to their efficiency and fantastic service, I placed my order on a Saturday and received it the following Monday. I had shortlisted 3 sets of 5 colours and Miss A chose the pastel range (my top choice too ☺️) — which consists of Pink, Maize, Ice Frappe, Breeze and Princess (you’re welcome!). As for the main fabric, I had already purchased Essex cotton linen from Fabric.com (in Linen, the name of the colour, which looks like white to me) and so I decided to use that. I was fortunate enough to get the end of the bolt, which meant a little extra yardage. I still have a lot left because I intended to use it for myself as well.
With regard to the rainbow stripes, I managed to cut my stripes on the bias with half-yard cuts for size 6 height. I was initially toying with the idea of cutting them on the grain to save fabric, so to speak, but I didn’t need to. Another tester did that and it didn’t really seem to affect the drape of the dress, so you might consider that for bigger sizes. The benefit of cutting them on the bias is that the edges won’t fray, but I still overlocked them to be safe. Some testers topstitched the stripes but I like how it looks without topstitching. I just made sure I pressed the skirt really well.
I have to confess that I re-drafted some of the skirt pattern pieces during testing due to issues with getting a “perfect” rectangle, but feedback was duly given and changes were made by owner-designer Saskia Smith. Even then, perfection isn’t easily achieved, giving me newfound respect for quilters. (Please note that the above picture does not show the full width of the skirt pieces.)
As usual, I had to blend sizes for the skinny bean. It was easy to lengthen the 3T bodice — I just had to add length to the bottom of both front and back. As for the skirt, I used the size 6 pattern pieces and shortened the width on one side. With the optional bottom band, the dress is below knee length (would that be considered tea length?). As the girl grows taller, she should be able to wear this for some time. The straps are adjustable after all.
I find the armscyes a bit too low for my liking but it can’t really be helped. The bodice back needs to rest below the shoulder blades. There is elastic running through the top. If I make it again, I would probably make the neckline higher (again, personal preference — I am more conservative). Other things I would do is to make sure I secure the ends of the elastic and straps really well (stitch and backstitch a few times). I was afraid they would come undone.
Of course, I had to add the optional inseam pockets. I was going to add a lining but I wasn’t sure how to do that after attaching the pockets. I thought it would be a bit strange to have them between the main and lining. I still don’t have a solution and would be happy to have someone enlighten me. Fortunately, because the skirt is poofy and the stripes are running across, it’s not too see-through without a lining.
You could encase the skirt between the bodice main and lining or leave the seams exposed, but I didn’t think the latter option would be comfortable, especially not with my fabric choices, which aren’t very soft and lightweight. I struggled to do the former with my Brother sewing machine and decided to handstitch the bodice lining to the skirt, something I learnt to do for the Zinnia dress. It was slow and done in a few sittings, but a lot neater.
On the day she first wore the dress, which happened to be Easter, my daughter raved to her grandma and later repeated to me, “The dresses my mummy makes / you make are amazing!” I’m glad I made my little girl happy! This is only the first of the new dresses I am planning to make her, since she has outgrown most of the older ones. (At the time of this post, I have made another dress, a Pearlie.)
I am afraid that there is no longer a sale, but there will always be another! The bundle for the dress and skirt is already discounted at $12.25. There are other bundles available as well because the skirt pattern can be mashed with different types of bodices, both woven and knit. Shop the patterns here at The Wolf and the Tree.
Modified from a post that appeared on my Facebook page on 21 April.
This post contains affiliate links to The Wolf and The Tree but all opinions are my own.