So, it turns out, I wasn’t done with Project Princess Dress. No, we aren’t going to Disney World any time soon that I know of, but V really, really, really wanted a Princess Elena dress for her birthday or Christmas. She saw one of her friends receive one at a birthday party, and instantly from that point onward, Elena was her favorite princess. “A princess-superhero, Mommy!”
Vivian’s birthday is a whole ‘nother story (to be blogged soon!), but as Christmas approached, I started looking at purchasing an Elena dress. And I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had to make it myself. It couldn’t be that hard. Ha!
I had only about a week to make the dress. I’d already committed to making a quilt for my son for Christmas, and the PhD ornaments went later into December than I’d been expecting. I worked on the dress in every spare moment that I could eke out of that last week before Christmas day. But it was absolutely and completely worth it in the end. The joy on my daughter’s face when she opened the box on Christmas morning was priceless. (She even said, as she started unwrapping the gift, her last one of the morning, “I hope this is an Elena dress!” Thank goodness it was!)
I began by using the bodice pattern pieces from Simplicity 1507 and grading them up to an approximate size 5 (My pattern is the set of smallest sizes) by mimicking the spacing between sizes shown on the printed pattern (does that make sense?). Then I cut the neckline wider and slightly deeper in the front and back.
To shape the skirt, I started with the petal panels Husband and I drafted for the Sofia dress (modified for the increased bodice size) and basically created a full A-line underskirt by redrafting them and changing the angle. Husband was moral support as I eyeballed the side slit featured on Elena’s overskirt.
I had the red fabric on hand, and I turned to my old-faithful collection of white sheets for the underskirt and bodice lining. The ruffle was another story. I spent quite a bit of time in the fabric store trying to find just the right material. In the end, I layered a pale pink glitter organza over a bright coral crepe for just the right color– and the abstract glittered roses gave just the right swirly look.
But it was also a royal pain to gather! I kept the layers together by doing a rolled hem on the outer edge and a narrow overlock on the inner, to-be-gathered edge. Since I don’t have a ruffling foot, I gathered all of those ruffles by hand with a double basting stitch! Thankfully my math worked out right and everything looks good in the end. I tapered the ruffles at the top of the side slit so that they wouldn’t be too floofy. Oh, and the glitter. Good heavens. It is not glued onto the fabric securely, so my craft room looked as though a glitter bomb had detonated!
Last (well, almost) came the belt. Before I inserted the zipper, I secured two layers of ribbon around the waistline. The gold striped ribbon is actually lightly wired! It came from a gift package we received this season–it was so perfect, I couldn’t not use it, so I machine-stitched it into place. Along the center of the gold ribbon, I used fusable tape to adhere a narrow coral ribbon. Finally, I hand-stitched a rhinestone buckle to the dress using clear thread (that was a bear!!). Husband used wire clippers to remove the central bar, since it went lengthwise rather than along the short direction that I needed.
It makes my heart happy to hear this girl go charging through the house to save the day!