My 4-year-old has been pestering me for her mermaid princess dress for the last week or so since I came home with the fabric. I had hemmed and hawed over what to make her, and she has finally agreed to wear this for both an upcoming mermaid party and Halloween (or so she says today). Possibly for the fairies and unicorns party as well. She told me, though, that she didn't want the mermaid tail skirt because she was a mermaid who could come out of the water and look like a regular princess. Hmm. Okay, so scrap the pattern for the tail ... need glamorous princess gown instead. She did NOT like the idea of a tutu-style skirt over the tail. She wanted floor-length, drapey, and full-on glamor. I showed her several patterns, and nothing was clicking for either of us, but when she got her hands on the fabric and held it up, we started formulating a plan.
I have to admit that I *love* working with her. She has amazing ideas every day and I let her act on them as much as possible, fostering every bit of her creativity. She got me thinking, and one night, trying to get little miss e to sleep, I realized that I could use the bubble dress pattern to make this dress.
The bubble dress ... my new favorite go-to pattern, from a tutorial by Lex on her blog. She does some absolutely amazing fashions, and I am so impressed with the simplicity of this dress. I made five in two days, which sounds crazy, but it's true.
So I took Lex's idea and just made it strapless, per Miss E's instructions, adding a casing in the chest band for elastic. I used the basic fabric headband idea, stitching one end of the elastic to each end of the chest band, and making sure it was exactly the right size to stay up. The dress is a bit heavy because of the crushed velvet panne (yes, the cheap polyester stuff; this is a costume!). That's the underlayer, which is necessary because she needed something soft against her body, and because I didn't want a see-through dress. The top layer is from the special occasions fabric collection at JoAnn. I had another fabric in hand, and this one was at the cutting counter screaming "MERMAID" at me. It didn't let me down. I think they work together perfectly, leaving her with a flowing, absolutely beautiful gown.
The top band is from Amy Butler's Love collection, the fabric that is the inner lining on the purse/tote I started mid-February. No, it isn't finished yet. I keep interrupting myself and leaving it sitting, 75 percent done, in the back of my closet. However, the fabric for the mermaid princess dress was on the floor right in front of the purse, and I realized that they were almost the exact same color. I figured it would be nice to have a cotton around her chest, and it would be easier to work with than the slippery panne and nylon.
I think it took about two hours to finish, and with the serger, all the crazy stray threads were removed and anything that wasn't was made all nice and pretty and orderly. If she does decide it feels like it needs a strap, I think I would cover a big button with the bluer part of the Love fabric and put that right in the middle of the top. Then I'd serge the sides of a long piece of the sparkle fabric, put an elastic loop in the center, and use that as an optional halter. However, she wore the dress for at least two hours tonight after it was made, and she never once had it slip. Sounds like I got the elastic right! If she doesn't need the halter, I may make a big gauzy flower for the front center. I haven't decided, but I guess that is yet to be determined. For now, it's really a very striking dress and I can't believe I made it myself!
I'll include a couple other bubble dress photos here. Just such a great way to make a quick dress, and both girls look so cute in theirs, as does our neighbor, who got a matching one for little miss e's first birthday party. Miss E's American Girl Doll Bitty Baby got one, too! They all looked like a royal court in purple and chocolate.
The first one I made ended up being too short, really, but when paired with little brown leggings, it is just adorable on little miss e as she toddles around.
Have fun, and try out Lex's awesome tutorial!