Well, Halloween is behind us (ahem, belated blog post on that coming soon!), which means it is *prime time* to get Christmas dresses out of the way!
This week I helped test the new Duchess & Hare Take a Bow Dress and Cape Winslet, and together they make a most delightful (and not particularly complicated) special occasion sew!
Duchess & Hare is a somewhat new PDF sewing company but don’t let that deter you! They have beautiful designs and their patterns come together beautifully. This was my second time sewing a Duchess & Hare pattern (my first was the very cute scalloped Petit Four Dress).
The Take a Bow Dress is best suited to heavy weight special occasion fabrics such as brocade, jacquard, some home dec fabrics, velvet, etc. It can also be made in lighter weight fabrics such as satin and cotton, though the instructions suggest using the basic skirt rather than the very full skirt, and omitting the horsehair braid in the hem. Now, this being said, after a comedy of errors (lesson learned being that 3 children under the age of 6 should not come to the fabric store with me when I need to focus), I ended up with this velvet embossed satin, made the full skirt, and added the horsehair braid. I love the overall look, though I can see how the thicker fabrics are even more fancy and the horsehair braid hides a little better in them too.
This dress is designed to be on the shorter side (1-2 inches above the knee). My daughter’s sits at about 2 inches above, though it seems to come up higher with the horsehair braid in the hem. I do suggest making a muslin of this dress first to assess the fit, especially if you are blending sizes together or adding length.
For me, I found the most complicated thing in this dress to be blending the sizes together. My daughter measured as a 3T chest, 4T waist and 6T height. I made a size 3T bodice, graded to a 4T at the waist and lengthened each piece in the armscye and waist area (the designer is happy to provide blending/lengthening directions in her group – just ask!). I made a 4T skirt and lengthened that to a size 6. If I make another of these for my eldest this year, I think I’ll add another inch to my pattern templates as I prefer her to wear things with a little more length to them (it’s also possible I messed up my lengthening, so muslin if you are concerned about length!).
The dress features a zipper at the side (I used an invisible zipper), an optional bow at the back, a pieced or solid bodice, a full or regular skirt, and is fully lined. The hem is supposed to be topstitched with a machine, however I opted to hand stitch it using an invisible stitch (a good project while waiting at swimming lessons!).
The Cape Winslet was quite straight forward. I used a remnant of fur for the outer and some white flannel for the lining. Since the dress is sleeveless, I thought the flannel would give the cape a little extra warmth (if all that fluffiness wasn’t enough!). The cape can be affixed with buttons, a brooch, or can be tied. I intend to get a brooch for mine, but for now I have pinned it with safety pins. (Shhhhh!).
The cape sizing is a lot more flexible. For this one I did a small size. I thought about lengthening it but I found it hard to work out how best to do that so decided it would be fine as is!
I plan to make another one of these for my littlest! They are going to look so adorable at Christmas with these on! And since I have a lot of leftover fabric, Little Man will also get to match with perhaps a vest!
The Duchess & Hare Take A Bow Dress and Cape Winslet is on sale this week for 15% off with coupon code CapeWinslet (if you buy the bundle, the discount is already applied). Be sure to join the Duchess & Hare Facebook group for more inspiration!