Behind the Seams: Rainbow Dash Dress Edition

Welcome back my lovelies!  Today I promised to go into grueling detail about Azriella's birthday dress!  I can't believe she's going to be 5!?!  Blows my mind!

So yesterday I posted on her "RAINBOW DASH!" dress.  Toady, I'm gonna tell you about all the gory details Behind the Seams. 

Along with the tale, I'm going to show you some out takes from our photo shoot so you don't get bored :-)

So as I mentioned yesterday, I got the idea to make a blue version of Danielle's from my sparkle's "Gathered Together" dress. I have been smitten with that one from the gate. It's simplicity, the sweet vintage French look of it, the unfinished hems, the curves,... I really could go on but I'm pretty sure you all can understand why I'm in love with that dress. I decided this look would be perfect because it was simplistic and beautiful.  Ethereal.  Princess-y.  I had to find the perfect fabric.  Danielle told me she used organdy.  That is not a particularly easy fabric to come by in an array of colors., Joann's- both nada.  So Etsy bound!  I searched every blue fabric listing under $20.  That's a lot of listings! Eventually,I found a listing for a little of 2 yards of what she called organza but was clearly organdy and it was $14 after shipping!  Score!  I couldn't have dreamed to find a more perfect fabric for this dress!  Having now the main fabric and the idea, I had to move on to the next obstacle.

I needed to add two elements:

  • wings
  • a grand rainbow tail

(doing the "silly butt" dance.) A rainbow tail... what to do?!  I toyed around with doing some swooping tiered ruffles, but I didn't think that would look very tail-like.  So I started just racking my brain about how to make ruffles that would look like a tail without being lame.  Epiphany moment #1: cascading ruffles.  Eureka!  That would look awesome... if only I could figure them out.  I saw a tutorial for them on Shwin and Shwin, but I wanted mine to be denser with ruffles.  I asked a few people but no one really had the vision I had in mind when they suggested tutorials.  No worries!  Just means I have to do a little head scratching!  I eventually realized that I just had to make them really gathered and really close together to get the look I wanted.  So!  I tried to find the lightest weight solid colored fabric that was affordable.  Ideally I would have wanted something a little lighter, but I found that broadcloth was the best I was going to get!

I started with the wings and drew what I thought was a pretty decent template.  Great!  One element down!


Next I went to town on the skirt.  From what I gathered (ha ;-) Danielle's dress had three layers.  So I originally thought and ombre underskirt would look nice.  I cut my strips and... wonk wonk... I didn't love it.  So I got another yard of fabric and cut that... wonk wonk... I didn't love that.  There will be a project with blue strips in my future now.  It's inevitable.  Oh well. 

I decided that I had just enough to do one color for the underskirt, this super lightweight cobalt blue cotton from Jomar I got in Philly a couple years back.  If you know what Jomar is, go ahead and laugh.  If you don't, please don't spill the beans to my proper sewing buddies ;-)  I wish I would have bought the whole bolt of that fabric when I had the chance.  It is so dreamy.  I thought it needed that third layer so I set forth to make it a petticoat (I know, I know, laugh your asses off... I didn't know better and didn't dream of how ridiculously poofy it would turn out.)  Luckily I realized I didn't love it before attaching it to the other skirt layers.  Unlucky for me I now have a full petticoat with an unfinished waist just waiting to be used. (You know, I thought about counting all my mistakes, but I'd lose count so go ahead and count if you want and keep that number to yourself ;-)

Okay!  On to the next step. Danielle told me that for the camisole, she just cut an old one and used that.  Well, I thought "why buy one when I could make one"... {insert three, count em, three camisole attempts.}

Actually the third almost did get used but I am getting ahead of myself.

I had Jon fray check that entire bottom blue ruffle and then, when he finished, I smiled sweetly and said "I think I'm going to make some blue taffeta hem tape for it instead... It seems more Rainbow Dash-y"... 

{insert eye twitches from Jon}

Hey, come on, it does seem more Rainbow Dashy doesn't it?!  I then cut out all of the ruffles.  Speaking of ruffles, let's pause there again.

So thinking in order to get full ruffles I must have a lot of ruffles was a logical thought... right?  EEEEEHHHHH!  Wrong!  I cut a all my ruffle tail fabric (which was triple originally but in different sizes) and fray checked both edges of each color... read that again.  Craziness!  Well, I knew hemming it would go against the look I was going for!  It was the only way!  I think in the end I used an entire little bottle of fray check for this dress!  Poor thumb, pointer, and middle finger!  They were allll cramped up after all that checking.  So insert an entire night of me starting to attaching ruffles to the top skirt (with three rows per color originally mind you) only to get halfway though green and realized it looked RIDICULOUS.  Azy, who had stayed up with me, said "mommie, you did it wrong.  you need to fix it." 

{insert shifty sideways glance away from her.  Uh, yeah, I know.  Thanks peanut gallery}

So, I spent the rest of that night ripping out all of those ruffles.  Luckily they kept their shape.  Not only that, but I had had an original plan to have them fan out from the top to the bottom and that too look bad.  The interfacing I used for re enforcing the area by the tail was this awesome woven interfacing which I had a coupon for.  I highly recommend the stuff. So the next morning, I changed up my plan for the tail's sewing path, and was relieved that I was happy with the turnout!  Capitol P H E W!  I used some leftover hem tape that I made for re enforcing the waist (because I knew that tail would try to weigh that dress down!)  and then I stitched it to the cobalt blue underskirt.  Yip Yip Yippee!!!  The skirt is done!!!!  Unfortunately I was reeeallly dreading the next part:  the bodice.

{insert photo intermission and elevator music}

Okay, the bodice. {insert shudder}

The reason I am making a big deal out of it is because getting the right fit with the right cut was going to prove to be hard.  Danielle's dress has a gorgeous effortlessness to the way the bodice is finished.  Recreating that without a pattern was hard.

She gave me a helpful pic on how to position the bodice front, but mine came out a little puckered and that made me sad :-(  And figuring out that incredible back was a funny scene:  Picture me zooming in the pic of the back and tracing it on my computer screen, lol.  It actually didn't come out bad!  The next part was the sleeves, simple, I just did a couple of layered flutter sleeves, unhemmed and carefully fray-checked.  I had (originally) made princess seams down the back to insert the wings. That even went well.  


How she fastened the back of the dress not only made me roll my eyes so many times, you'd think I were auditioning for the Exorcist, but I'm pretty sure I vomited a little... KIDDING!!  Figuratively, folks!

brace yourself folks.


Hook and eyes!  The nerve!

I searched for help alllllllll over the interwebs only to find blogging sewing giants like Gertie refer to hook and eyes as her kryptonite!  Oh, I was done for!  Damn her and her skills, everyone should scroll up and look at that dress on her website and give her a round of applause.  Seriously.  


I decided to forge ahead.  I did what I thought was a pretty great idea of making my own hook and eyes tape which was hand tacked first then machine stitched down (not an easy feat!).  With the binding already half attached, I stitched down the rest (gathers in place by the neck).  I put the camisole under it.  Time for the big reveal!  Let's call our little model in for a fitting!!




It. looked. horrible.

{insert river of tears}

The fit in the front poked out oddly and I made the thing without sufficient ease.

Begrudgingly, I slashed out my wings to salvage them and scraped the rest of the bodice.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, PR&P was holding auditions.  This dress was not going to make it in time. 

{insert another river of tears}

The show must go on!

Back to the drawing board.  Or rather, the Pinterest board.  After searching and searching and searching, I found a dress that had an amazing drape in the back.  It was a simple deep U shape with a bow at the bottom where the skirt joined it.  Huzzah!

I decided to just old fashion line the thing and to do the wings a little different (it's a secret I'm going to share in another post ;-)  I made another bodice front with a little more room for gather and ease.  But it looked plain to me.  

It needed something. I went through every Burda technique hoping to find inspiration.  I lingered on a post about perfect tiny pintucks.  Hmmm... wouldn't that be interesting!  But how to do them?


How about a few diagonal pintucks.  Yes!  That should look great, right?!  Right!! Yes!  Oh my god, I am so unbelievably happy with those little guys!  It's a little retro, don't you think?  Now my only problem, or so I thought, was that the back might need something to keep it from falling off little shoulders.  She's such a slim little thing!  I was going to do a strip of FOE around the mid to top back and then do a couple of cloud appliques to cover it (very Rainbow Dash).  But first, {cringe} let's do another fitting. 

If this doesn't work, I'm pretty much out of fabric... aka, screwed.


{insert trumpets}


And what's this?!?!  It doesn't need elastic to hold it up!  Bonus!  Oh yeah!  What a win!!!!!

Quick!  Take it off.  Here comes the really scary part.  The only part left (well, aside from tacking down the bow ;-)

Joining the whole damn thing together and crossing our fingers it still fits!  (side note:  I added a little strip of 3/8" elastic to the back of the skirt by the tail so that it looked a little fitted without needing a fastener)


It does!  It does!

"My Rainbow Dash dress!  Mommie you did it!  You did it!  Horray!  Oh thank you mommie, thank you thank you!  I love it!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxOOO"

spin spin spin jump jump jump

"Okay take it off!  Mommie wants to do another line of stitching so the skirt stays put!" 

Sigh of relief.  Quick email of gratitude to Danielle.  

The dress is done. What a wonderful feeling!

I jokingly refer to this dress being a mullet dress because it's all business in the front but a party in the back!!  Oh!  That makes me laugh!

What am I going to do with all those leftover ruffles though? hahhahahahaha...

Did I mention that (besides the skirt to bodice seam which was encased in hem tape) all the seams, ruffles included, are french seams?!  Yeah, those suckers aren't going anywhere ;-)  

I'm so glad that the dress holds it's own, literally!

And that she loves it.

I'm okay with the fact that I didn't finish in time for the PR&P auditions, because, if it didn't make the cut, I would have been heart broken.  This way, I'm fine! Much better!

Thanks for hanging in there folks!  I hope you enjoyed this edition of a Behind the Seams look at my Rainbow Dash dress.  Some goodies on how to make some of the elements yourself are up in my SECRET FREEBIES CLUBHOUSE!  If you are interested in making the wings or the skirt, sign up to the Sew Chibi Designs Newsletter to gain access PLUS be the first to know when new stuff is added!

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