Signature Style

As an artist, I've always been a people pleaser. Like those sane artists who want to eat by way of their art, I cater to what my client wants or desires in an art work, but make it my own. I don't feel guilty about this at all. In fact, if my amazing Uncle Grout "sells out", then I can, too.

When it comes to my signature style as a seamstress, the same idea prevails. I aim to please. With my sewing students, we work on what they want to learn to do. Perhaps I'm comfortable enough with my self expression that I don't feel the need to impose it on other people. In any case, as most of the clothing I create is for my daughter, her tastes definitely shape the designs.

Project Run and Play's last at home challenge is to create a signature look. As the whole competition is based around children's clothing, I designed a dress for Miss Emmaline to wear on Easter. I know, months a head of the game, but I can rest easy knowing is finished long before the holiday arrives.

Creating this dress was no easy feat, merging my own aspirations for the dress with Emmaline's and being constrained by the fabric I had on hand. This, like all the other projects, is made completely of stash fabric. I love a good challenge and this proved to be just that.

the inspiration, a 1950s Givenchy pattern,
can you believe how tiny her waist is??
Inspired (as I often am), by a vintage Givenchy pattern from the 60s, I wanted to design a more mature look for Emmaline, but still retain the innocence and play of childhood. She's growing up so quickly and becoming such a little girl that I wanted to showcase that stage in the dress.

Here's the original sketch:

Originally, I wanted the dress to have a petticoat that was covered in ruffles. This is where the 4 yr old and I butted heads. She just wanted a dress, no skirt. So we compromised, I added a ruffle to the bottom of the dress, to make it modest and I turned the fancy petticoat into a utiliatian one, meant to keep the dress poofy.

I had also wanted the dress to curve from the the scalloped edge, but it just didn't work out construction wise. So, I cut it off level like the inspirational Givenchy pattern.

Otherwise, the dress remained true to my sketch.

The finished project:

After hours of drafting (seriously, doing a child's sloper pattern seems easy, but for some reason, pint size patterns always take me longer than adult ones), I came up with a flat pattern I was happy with. 

The lined bodice has capped sleeves, removing the bulk of a set in sleeve, to let the two rows of ruffles sit flat on the boat neckline. Each ruffle was done the old fashioned way, with lots of basting stitches, gathers, and rolled hems. The waist is slightly above the natural waist line, cinched in with a belt made from an old belt I had lying around. I deconstructed it, recovered the plastic and hardware, then cut down to Emmaline size.  

The skirt is full, with a scalloped edge faux wrap front, with fabric covered buttons, and a giant ruffle on the bottom, finished with a rolled hem. 

The petticoat is made of heavy lining and oodles of tulle, edge with a tulle ruffle, all made from left overs of last year's Easter dress. 

The back has a hook and eye closure and an invisible zipper.

For accessories, I use a few handmade items I had lying around : a ruffly flower headband and a heart bracelet Emmaline helped me make a while ago.


I still can't believe it's done in time for the 8 pm MST deadline tonight. I've never made any of the PR&P deadlines before and I'm a little nervous that my creation won't make the cut. The judges are picking the top five designs from the Flickr stream and revealing them tomorrow. Then the voting opens up to everyone, with the winner revealed on Monday. Eek! I'm sure everyone is nervous!


  1. Oh my heck, Kristin! GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS a thousand times over!

  2. My girls would totally flip over this - it is fabulous! Good luck!!!

  3. Looks like a perfect compromise! Love the scallops and the cap sleeves and the shape of the dress. My daughter would love a dress like this (um and so would I). :)

  4. Love it!! I wish my girls where little... Do you do prom dress? I had to buy one that is going to have to be changed.. It is such a pain..

  5. this is really beautiful. sophisticated but sweet. love it.

  6. This is so beautiful and creative, I think you should have made the top 5 for sure.

  7. It was SUPER cute in person too! You are quite talented! =)