Morgan's Purple Italian

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The idea for this gown started when my oldest daughter caught a glimpse of some purple brocade I had just recently found at Fields Fabrics.  She, being a complete nut over just about any shade of purple, decided that I must have bought it for her.

Originally I had thought to make her a Tudor, as I thought the pattern quite suitable and that it would flatter her small size.   After much careful thought though, I came to the conclusion that attempting to make a full Tudor for her would be a complete nightmare - ending with a UFO that I'd find in the bottom of a box in a few years time.  Mainly stemming from my remembering how much of a hassle the turned back sleeves were on mine, and that was with a properly sized pattern to work from.

No matter what style of gown I was going to make for her, I needed to work out a pattern for her bodice.  Morgan is 7 but extremely small for her age, which makes commercial patterns pretty much pointless without major overhauling.  The top bodice in the below picture is what was my attempt at draping a toile for her.  Her being a very ticklish child didn't help us much, and so I wasn't satisfied with how that try worked out.  The middle is an unedited copy of one of the bodices from Simplicity's 5517, in size 4.  Taking that pattern and comparing with my first attempt, I came up with the bottom version which became my working pattern.  I had to adjust it for width, as it was too wide for her, add about 4 inches to the bottom so that it meets her natural waist, and actually compensate for the fact that she *has* a waist, never mind the fact that she's not supposed to. =/

 

After much brainstorming I decided that the easiest gown that I could do for her very first garb would be something very like Eleonora Di Toledo, as seen in the portrait of her and her son.  The buttons for trimming the sleeves were something I had found years ago at cheaptrims and had honestly never thought I would find a use for, and the purple cord for trimming the sleeve edges was found at Hobby Lobby while I was searching for the proper color yarn to make my own.  Finding it in the shade I was aiming for was a good stroke of luck on my part, it saved me quite a lot of time in the end.

About now I realized that she also needed a chemise.  I tried cheating on the math issues but that didn't work out too well, and so I ended up doubling my work due to trying to be lazy.  Lesson for self, trying to be lazy equals wasted fabric.. for the most part.  I did break down and let my lazy side win out when trying to figure out how to manage the cuffs, as I hope that she'll be able to wear the chemise for a few years before I need to make her a new one.  Instead of dealing with a fitted cuff, I added a tiny cluny lace to the ends of the sleeves and threaded a thin 1/8" satin ribbon though the sleeve itself about an inch and a half above that.  This way, I am able to adjust the wrist size when I need to accommodate for growth without a major hassle.

The skirt was pretty straightforward now that I knew what style her gown was going to be. I took the measurements from the front and back sections of the bodice, multiplied each by 3, added a few inches for good measure, and then eyeball pleated the two panels into her bodice until I was happy with how they looked.  Once I completed adding the skirt panels, I used my trusty awl to create her eyelet holes, put in the little dritz grommets, overcast them, closed up the side seams on her skirt, and then used a blind hem with 4" included for possible growth spurts.  When I had the gown on her for marking the hem it was extremely tempting to put a train in her skirt, as it was just absolutely adorable seeing that extra bit flowing on the floor behind her.. But reason won out.  I couldn't see it not being stepped on, by either herself, or some careless person walking behind her.  Shame though, it did look really good.

Once all that was out of the way, I seriously sat down to continue work on her sleeves.  I took a sleeve pattern out of the same Simplicity that I used for creating her bodice, added length, then sliced it into 4 pieces.   I did not add any extra seam allowance to them and am now extremely glad that I had not, as I had intended for them to be a little more fitted than they turned out.  Each sleeve has a total of 21 buttons connecting the panes at the joins, and took a little over 4 yards of the purple cord to edge them.  They attach to her gown via 3 more buttons on her bodice.

I have since decided that paned sleeves, even little ones, are evil.  Her gown has side lacing on both sides of it, to also help with any possible growth spurts.

Tada!  A perfectly tiny Italian gown for a perfectly tiny girl.  The last picture in the group was just too cute not to post after playing with it.