Saturday, June 08, 2019

McCalls 7858 - Samantha's Version

Originally I was going to put all this information in one blog post! Then the long post started to get really long. I realized it was too much to read. If I wouldn't read something with that much information, why would I expect someone else too? So this will be two separate posts ~ one for each granddaughter's dress. 

I'm starting with Samantha's first because it was the easiest of the two dresses to make. 

First I need to say that it took me a minute to get started making these dresses. I bought the fabric from Chic Fabrics and posted a picture to Instagram...then the fabric sat. I had the same feeling I had when I made their mother's prom dress years ago.

I've made a few more prom dresses since then but the nervousness and importance of these dresses makes me pause...not because I question my abilities but because of the specialness of the ocassion! I really wanted the girls first "important and formal" dresses to be extra special!

I started with McCalls 7858 - a David Tutera special event dress for little girls. I cut out the dresses from the pink silk shantung and basted the shells together - to try on for fit. 

During the construction of the dress shells, I realized I was going to need to add several techniques to the dresses for them to be what I wanted. None of those details were included in the pattern instructions. I will detail all of it in the construction section below.

Let's start with the supply list ~
3 yards pink silk shantung from Chic Fabrics
3 yards of pink embroidered mesh from Chic Fabrics
1 12" pink zipper
1/2 yard pink bemberg lining from the collection
1 yard of pink piping from the collection
7 yards pink bias binding
2 yards of twill tape

This is a simple dress to make. I complicated it by the materials I choose and because of that I needed extra steps to insure the fabric worked well with the design.  Sammy's dress was first because I needed to make the most alterations/fitting changes to her's.

Fitting Changes ~
- Sammy's dress bodice needed to be given a closer fit after the first fitting.
- I removed 5/8" from the bottom of the bodice

Construction Information ~
- The motifs were added to the front and back bodices

- To get them to look like this I had to choose a specific piece of the embroidered mesh. I also added some additional motifs onto the bodice front and back bodice to fill in some of the empty spaces.

- The pattern instructions tell you to bind the neck with bias binding. Ahhhh no. Not with my fabric choices. So I cut and sewed linings for the bodice from a pink bemberg rayon. Sammy's choice.

- I added a pink piping to the neckline and inserted it between the lining and the bodice. I wanted a better neckline finish than the pattern offered.

- Bias binding was made from the satin blanket binding that I purchased. It was the only thing that I found locally that matched/coordinated the fabric.

- The bias binding was added to the sleeve edge and the skirt hemline.

- The twill tape was added to the crinoline, like suspenders to insure it hung well underneath Samantha's dress. Now while the crinoline had a waist tie, it just wasn't snug enough on her.

I don't consider myself a slow sewist. NOT.AT.ALL! But all of my sewing lately has been that. Slow, careful sewing with quite a bit of seam ripping so I can get things just right. And I've been fine with that...some because I have a wardrobe of garments and don't feel the need to bang out things to wear. Some because I want to take my time and make more sew challenging garments.  These dresses fall into the more complicated garments category.

A few pictures of Samantha wearing her dress ~

Samantha was funny. She ate everything that was served. Pasta starter, salad from her plate and her sister's plate especially after she realized the salad dressing was good! The roast chicken breast, mashed potatoes and veggies. She ate her cheesecake and fruit for dessert. Ten minutes into the program, she laid her head in her Mother's lap and slept for the next two hours. LOL! A five year old with a full belly!!!

Conclusion ~
A few things I learned not from the making but the wearing of the dresses. We never thought about how the crinoline would work with the dresses, when they sat or more importantly when they needed to go to the bathroom. She needed assistance with lifting the dress to clear the toilet - true talk. AND little girls go to the bathroom ALOT so it was several trips between the two of them with my daughter and I splitting the trips.

- I should have made belt loops for the ribbon belts. 
- They slipped up and down all evening and by the time we left, they had removed them. 
- I bought cheap hooped petticoats to go under the dresses which was okay for this instance. 
- But I'm using this pattern again for flower girl dresses for them. I'm going to buy the more expensive layered tulle slips for those dresses.

I'm glad I purchased the expensive fabric to make these special dresses for the girls. Their reactions to having them, the compliments they received and their smiles made it all worth it.  Aleena's dress is up next! always more later!


  1. You did an excellent job.

  2. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful! Hard work always pays off!
    Thanks so much for sharing the details.

  3. Such an heirloom dress - the kind you put away to save after its outgrown. I can see all the love you put into this dream garment! Karen

  4. Stunning. Your granddaughters look stunning, and your love of them is so apparent in their gorgeous gowns. Brava! And many thanks for showing us how a master works.

  5. Such lovely dresses on such lovely girls.

  6. Your project reminds me of the projects I completed when my nieces were young. I have had the experience of sewing for my son, and now his three sons. (No other girls in my wing of the family...sigh...) You will have a great record to look back on in the future. Keep going! You did a wonderful job, and a created a wonderful memory, too! Girls stuff is so much more fun (in different ways). I remember the things my grandmother made for me, they will, too. The girls look spectacular and wildly happy...thank you for sharing your experience!

    1. Greytone - I've actually found a Simplicity pattern that I want to try for suits for the boys...and maybe the girls too! I'm hoping that they will remember the garments I sew for them too! Thank you so much for liking the dresses!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing. This entire post is full of love. And I love the dress, too.

  8. Isn't it fun and such an accomplished feeling to put extra couture details in to a special item?! The dress is so lovely. I love that you moved the embroidered details around on the fabric. And the lining and underlining make for such a quality item. You do such beautiful work!!

  9. How many times have I heard you say, this is a simple dress, but I complicated it. But it was worth it. I bet no other little girl there was as well dressed. They are both beaming. Good job Grandma!

    1. Nancy - cause I have a problem! *LOL* I can't sew anything simple...I seem to always complicate it! Actually there were several other little girls there but they were in store-bought tulle dresses. Exactly what I wanted to avoid. The girls did look like little princesses especially after we taught them how to walk holding the dresses. Thank you for the compliment!

  10. These dresses are breathtaking! I can just imagine how excited a 5-year-old me would have been to receive this.

  11. Really lovely work, the girls look so special and so happy! Thank you for sharing.

  12. Beautiful work! Your granddaughter is precious!

  13. What a gorgeous dress for a beautiful granddaughter! She must feel so special in this dress. Thank you for sharing.

  14. What a beautiful gift for your equally beautiful granddaughters! Whether they could express it now or not, they will treasure the loving care you showed for them with these dresses. It makes my heart fill all full!! Thank you for sharing some of that love (and your beautiful sewing) with us!!!

  15. Lovely! Make sure they keep those garments boxed up and saved for their own children to see what an amazing sewist their great grandmother was. I so wish I had just one of the things my grandmother made me. You can get archival boxes and papers to save them in, no plastic! They are beautiful, Carolyn, and I love seeing your adventures with a slower type of sewing.

  16. I'm with Bunny. I have a few pictures of me in Easter dresses that my grandmother made, which were beautiful, with crinolins that she made, and I do so wish that I had one. I remember wearing them, too, which would make it even more special to have had them. Sammy looked like a little princess, and I'm sure she felt like one, too.

  17. I didn't have a grandmother who sewed, but my mother sewed some of our outfits, especially special ones, when we were young. I lost my mother 20 years ago, but to do this day, I vividly remember these outfits and the love my mother put into them. I did not have children, but sewed outfits for my nephew and a friend's daughter when they were little and I too added special extras. I was touched when they both had professional photos taken in outfits I made. I haven't sewn as much since, but I enjoy seeing what others make especially for loved ones as it brings up happy-sad memories of my mom making something special for me.

  18. Stunning! I'm looking forward to reading about the second dress

  19. Such pretty dresses, your granddaughters look adorable and so happy in their special dresses.

  20. You did an amazing job with these dresses. I think my favorite photo of Sammy is her sitting on the ground - such a sweet pic.

    I need to grab this pattern while I still can so I have it when needed for E. Thanks for all the step by steps that you posted giving anyone else the confidence to tackle a really special dress for any occasion. g


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