My honorary niece Olivia turned six today, and two days ago I sent her birthday gift, which you are about to read all about, on its way to her.
I like to give Olivia a spring/summer dress every year for her birthday. Last year when I was buying the pattern for her fifth birthday dress, there were two patterns I liked a lot, so I decided to get both and use one for last year and one for this year. McCall's M7309, the cute, elbow-sleeved, handkerchief hem knit dress design you see above, was the one for this year.
But I ran into a snag when it came time to trying to find fabric for it. There is surprisingly little selection in knit fabrics that are suitable for a little girl's dress -- at least in the stores I have access to. Everything was so ugly and/or elderly. This pattern called for a moderate stretch knit fabric, but when the only fabric I could find that I actually liked was a very stretchy knit... I went with it.
This fabric is a sort of fuchsia or plum colour -- not quite either purple or pink -- with fine horizontal lines of turquoise and lime. I had some difficulty finding a spool of matching thread for it, but the real challenge came when making it up. When sewn as directed, the neckline stretched out enormously -- to 30 inches in circumference! I had to recut the bodice entirely to make the neck opening smaller, and redo the neckband repeatedly to get it small enough. I didn't recut the rest of the dress, and I can only hope that it doesn't look too oversized and sloppy on Olivia. Arghhh. It's so disappointing to struggle with something as I did with this, and still not be happy with it when it's finally finished.
As for the obligatory matching purse, I didn't want to sew it out of the jersey because the fabric was too stretchy to be suitable for a purse, and I'd have to interface and interline it, which would be a pain with such a small item. I looked through my yarn stash to see what I had in the way of coordinating yarns that might be used for a knitted purse. I had a turquoise and a lime that were very similar to the stripes on the jersey. I did not have a fuchsia yarn, and would probably have reverted to the idea of a sewn purse rather than go to the trouble and expense of having to track down and buy a skein of yarn in that shade, but happily it occurred to me to check my box of embroidery floss. It turned out that I had some embroidery floss in a very similar shade.
When knitting the purse, I used the Squircle pattern I have used a number of times before, and went with a reversal of the dress fabric's colourway: lime, with turquoise and fuchsia stripes worked in duplicate stitch. The lime yarn is a very soft yarn, so to give the purse a little more structure, I cut a circle of very stiff interfacing the size of the bottom of the bag, knitted a second bottom, and then stitched the second bottom inside the bottom of the bag, slipping the interfacing circle in between the two bottoms mid-process.
I hope the resulting purse and dress will do well enough. They certainly aren't the success Olivia's super cute fifth birthday dress and purse were, sigh.
As for the rest of Olivia's gift, I got her a toy tea set she can paint and decorate herself (repeatedly, if she likes, because it's washable paint), an owl sketchbook and matching pen, and a copy of The Secret World of Og by Pierre Berton. So, all in all... not a bad gift, and one Olivia will probably be happy enough with. Which is, after all, what matters.