Saturday, 29 May 2010

Ottobre chases fireflies


Those of you with small girl children will probably have heard of a rather beautiful boutique called Chasing Fireflies. It bills itself as "A magical array of keepsake-quality kid's clothing" and if you replace 'kid's' with 'girl's', then they're not wrong. Mothers of boys may find their offerings somewhat less spectacular, as is so often the way.

Anyway, during my hunt for Laura's 3rd birthday dress, I came across the Fairytale Chiffon Dress on the Chasing Fireflies site.



Isn't it just divine? Of course, at $198 (plus shipping and duties) it would want to be. So if, like me, you'd rather spend your pennies on other things, Ottobre has the answer. (Is there a question to which it hasn't? you may ask, and I would say, probably not.)




I was somewhat underwhelmed by this pattern when I first saw it. I always felt that I ought to like it more than I did and couldn't see where it was missing the bus. When I compared the two dresses I realised that the Ottobre problem lay in the dress's proportions. I find that Ottobre dresses tend to run wide and this one doesn't have the length to make up for that, so it has just a hint of squatness about it. The line drawing illustrates this nicely.







But in its essentials, it is a great pattern for hacking out a Fairytale Chiffon Dress.


My modifications:

  • grade it down to a size 92 (even though I swore I wasn't going to do this again because I have a large pile of 'biggest-size-is-92' patterns to make 'some day' and since Laura is now definitely a 92, it appears that 'some day' is now here);

  • lengthen the overskirt and add more width to take account of the filmier fabric;

  • shorten the sleeves to elbow-length and add flounces;

  • replace the front flounces with ruffles;

  • deepen, widen and square off the neckline; and

  • replace the zip with loops and buttons

So pretty straightforward really. And best of all, given my current stash-busting mission, the only new purchase was the tulle - which I got on Ebay for £3.20, incl. postage. In fact, the entire dress cost me less than £14, which made me wonder how Chasing Fireflies were getting away with charging nearly $200. And then I made the dress.



Folks, if you are the proud possessor of a Fairytale Chiffon dress and are now grinding your teeth at the thought of all those squandered dollars, grind no longer. This dress is seriously labour-intensive. Have you ever tried ruffling silk chiffon? Forget about the ruffler foot - it just makes nasty holes in the fabric. It needs to be hand ruffled. The overskirt also needs to be French seamed and hand-gathered. In fact, there was quite a lot hand-sewing involved in making this dress, including a hand-rolled hem on the overskirt's ruffling. Fortunately I like hand-sewing and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every one of the 17 hours I spent on the dress, but I now realise that $198 is actually a very good price for it. Once you've deducted materials, the cost equates to about $10 an hour - not much more than the UK's minimum wage.


(Glass buttons from MIL's stash, loops made from mercerised cotton from mother's stash,ribbon also from mother's stash which was actually destashed to her by a woman whose daughter worked in a ribbon factory back in the days when Coventry was awash with manufacturing companies.)



And it was 17 hours very well spent, I would say. I love its dreamy charm, and Laura likes it too, though probably not as much as I do. For a start she would prefer a pink ribbon and I will cave on that, even though it will mean buying one because you have to pick your battles in this life.

I will also have to take up the left hand side of the hem quite a bit and even out the sleeve lengths. They're the kind of flaws that would really bug me and I would point them out to everybody who complimented the dress, so I might as well sort them out now. And then it can go into the spare room wardrobe until the day of James' party to which Laura will no doubt decide that she wants to wear pyjamas because they are the only garments she owns that feature Peppa Pig! Maybe I should invest in a Peppa Pig ribbon, just in case... Oooh! Could this be the basis of a new Chasing Fireflies range? Tasteful character-spattered clothing - now there's a thought!

9 comments:

beangirl said...

You can get Peppa Pig pajamas??



Yes. That's the only thing I took away from that whole post. LOL

That is an amazing dress! I get Chasing Fireflies and yes, their catalog is shockingly expensive. But as you say, perhaps they're actually paying someone reasonably for the garments. Uh. I'm going to hold on to that hope.

FAB dress! You're a much more dedicated mom than I am.

mermaids said...

excellent recreation of the dress. i strongly suspect you used better fabric and sewing techniques that the RTW version

Sew_Happily_Ever_After said...

funny that i stumbled upon your blog about this chasing fireflies dress today. last christmas i was going to recreate this same dress! i even had it traced from the same otto pattern that you used and had made all of the changes that you did (i was going to keep the zipper in the back)! lol! we must think alike! BUT then I really got to thinking about it and now that I've heard you describe your 17 HOURS of sewing....well, that's why I was hesitant to actually MAKE the dress--having never worked with chiffon and such I figured it would be just another headache in my already busy life! your dress looks beautiful and you did a wonderful job!

Judy Ross said...

WOW! That is one STUNNING dress! Outstanding work by you! I'm afraid there is no way my daughter would get a silk chiffon ruffled dress when she turns three. (I have 358 days till that happens. I may change my mind. Nope, pretty sure I won't!)
So beautiful, and while we're at it, it really really REALLY suits her - she may like Peppa Pig pjs, but she's got the look for this dress in spades.

雅鈴 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
michal said...

Wow, This is one amazing dress!

Kathryn said...

Not sure they come in adult sizes, Beangirl! I take your point about the reasonable pay - no doubt their seamstresses are way faster than I am, but even so...

Teri - I wouldn't like to bet on it!

Sew-Happily - I'm pretty slow so 17 hours could probably be reduced quite a bit. I wasted a good hour battling with the ruffler foot. And in retrospect, I'd do the zip next time.

Lol Judy - I know it's a completely impractical dress. Trouble is, she gets so many new (very practical) dresses and I wanted to make her something really special while I still have complete control over her wardrobe. Once she hits nursery in September and discovers that many 3 year olds get a wardrobe vote, it'll be Peppa Pig and Dora all the way. I have to make the most of this time! And even though it's washable I am NEVER going to let her eat tomatoes or chocolate in that dress.

Thank you Michal and all for the lovely compliments. (And no thanks to the spammer - I used to think that the deleted comments on blogs were rude remarks. I know better now...)

HaroldM22 said...

Well begun is half done. ............................................................

krisz said...

I love how you transformed this Ottobre dress!For my taste the original version was way too much!But yours is truly amazing!

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