Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Little Firecracker Dress

I finished with work at the end of May and sort of hit the ground running with projects that have been on my list (or floating around in my head).

Keep in mind that Zuzu continues to go to school three days a week in the summertime, so that's how I find the time to do this stuff! I sometimes have mixed feelings about dropping her off at daycare when I don't have to go to work, but then I run errands or clean or prep for my summer class or work on projects around the house and my mixed feelings shift to "This is actually awesome." I really don't know how SAHM get anything done. You have my utmost respect. In our system, Zuzu gets an educational playdate all morning long (with someone else fixing and cleaning up second breakfast and lunch), naps for two and a half hours, and I get stuff done that needs to get done and then I pick her up and we are both happy with how our days went. We call that a win-win around here. I like to tell David that I could totally be a stay-at-home mom if Zuzu still went to school.

Anyway, my mom bought Zuzu a cute little Fourth of July outfit, but it's not like a red-blooded American girl can have too many stars and stripes in her wardrobe, right? Plus I like to theme-dress her for the entire week of any given holiday (tell me I'm not the only person who does this). So I decided that Zuzu needed her own version of a "Let Freedom Ring Dress."

I'd seen this tutorial on Pinterest and thought it fit my two criteria for sewing projects: (1) cute (2) easy.

I spent a total of two afternoons working on the dress. The first day was my short work day--I gathered my materials and then just cut and ironed and pinned.

t-shirt in size 24 months, then coordinating fabric. I think the largest piece was 3/8 of a yard.
The materials were inexpensive. I got the little red t-shirt at Kohls, and actually my mom bought it for me with Kohl's cash so it was free. The fabric I bought were small fractions of a yard on material that sold for $6.99/yard, plus I had a coupon to take 40% off the most expensive cut, so the fabric totalled less than $10. The most expensive part of the dress was the pom-pom trim (which you could leave off, but why would you when it's so freaking cute?) and I also used coupons on those. (Side note: I am not a coupon cutter because I cannot keep track of that stuff before expiration dates, but I freaking love coupon apps on my phone that do all that stuff for you.)

When I started sewing, I followed the tutorial for the "Let Freedom Ring Dress" on the Happy Together blog, which was great. I won't go through all the steps because you can read and follow it here. She does a great job of walking you through each step.

I will say that I ignored her measurements because I was just eye-balling my dress. I used one from Zuzu's closet as a model to give me the length I wanted, then cut three tiers all the same width so they'd make the dress the right size. I wanted it to be fuller and twirlier than the dress she made, so I made the horizontal length longer than she did. I may have gone slightly overboard, as the dress is really full--so much that when Zuzu climbs stairs in it, she tends to step on the skirt, which makes her mad. But it looks super cute on her, and she has other dresses in her closet that are equally twirly and full-skirted. (Pardon the bad lighting--it was evening and the front door was closed so the pictures look yellowy).

Being coy. Do you see her tongue sticking out?
I also didn't serge my seams because ain't nobody got time for that and also I'm afraid of my serger and haven't used it yet. I didn't even zig-zag stitch mine because no one will see them and if I'm being honest, I know Zuzu will only wear this dress a handful of times before she outgrows it and/or the seasons change. If I were making these to sell, then I'd probably need to finish it off a little more professionally. But for my purposes, shortcuts like that are fine. Looks just fine when it's not inside out!

I probably snapped a dozen pictures of her in this dress on the stairs. She had her tongue out in EVERY SINGLE ONE of them.
If you're a newbie sewer, I totally recommend this project. The most challenging part is gathering the material to ruffle and then sewing the tiers together, but it's totally manageable (trust me, if I can do it you can do it). I cursed very little while making this dress, and it really can be done in two afternoons. Using a tank top or t-shirt is a huge short-cut (you could even do long sleeves and Christmas fabric in the winter). Then all you need is a super cute girl to wear your dress!

Oh, I love this little firecracker.  #zuzutongue


  1. all you need is a super cute girl to wear your dress!

    You've certainly got that requirement filled!

  2. That is so perfect! She looks adorable! Great job!

  3. And... THIS is why I am intimated to have a daughter.

    Boys are so much easier to dress because no one seems to ever care what they are wearing.

    The first thing my mom said to me when she visited last was, "Where is her hair bow?"

    Damn, all that pressure!

    But you, my friend, totally do it up right.

    I cannot imagine ever theme-dressing my kids, but like you said, I am the SAHM who is never without a kid who is within 10 feet of me, and therefore can get almost nothing done.

    Love Zuzu and her tongue. She's going to have some wedding slideshow. :)

  4. This is adorable. Love it. Totally copying. For next year. :)

  5. wow, so cute children dress, and you little girl is beautiful and cute,love your blog, u r so smart,can make so beautiful dress

  6. wow, so cute children dress, and you little girl is beautiful and cute,love your blog, u r so smart,can make so beautiful dress