My baby sister had her fifteenth birthday this October while I was away at college. Quite apart from the question "How can my baby sister be fifteen already?!?" I managed not to get her a gift, as I was 600+ miles away at the time, so when I came home for Christmas I promised to make her a dress as her gift.
We made quite an expedition of it - Kate had been reading Color Me Beautiful and we decided to use the trip to JoAnn as a way to figure out the colours she looks best in as well. I'm sure we attracted attention -- Katie and David and I, lugging cart-fulls of fabric bolts back and forth across the store. But we ended up with a good idea of what suits her, and fabric for a dress.
It was snowing, and she was freezing - I'm impressed at the smile!
Actually, fabric for two dresses. Katie couldn't decide between two sets, and she had some birthday money from our grandfather, so I agreed to make up a second dress for her.
The pattern she chose is Butterick 4790, which is darling. I'd read a lot of somewhat negative reviews, however, so I went digging around trying to figure out the issues with the pattern before I made it up. Kate ended up not having a lot of the fitting problems that people mentioned - she's got about the 1950's figure, slim, but curvy! Lucky girl! I did add width to the front, under-skirt - I just cut the whole width of my fabric, then put darts in the back for her hips. It's still too wide, but since she's still growing I just moved the button off-centre a little and she can adjust it as she needs to. It's supposed to be a wear-alone dress, and I think it'll work very well that way for summer, but it also works as a pinafore over a shirt if it's cold - and as she wore both for these pictures.
I added patch pockets - partly just because I always need pockets, and partly because the scraps left from cutting out the circle skirt were exactly the right shape for patch pockets! They're bound with bias tape and top-stitched to the underskirt, where they don't show normally, but they're easy to access.
And, because I seem psychologically incapable of resisting rick-rack for more than about three projects in a row.... I added some to the pockets of the second dress. (It was already in my stash, so I am completely unrepentant!)
I changed the closure a little bit - instead of the snap closure with decorative buttons, I skipped the snaps entirely and made self-fabric loops and functioning buttons. The buttons are fabric-covered; this was my first experiment with covering buttons and I have to say I like how they turned out!
Oh, and all that bias tape? I made it myself... measured, marked, cut, folded, pressed, and applied. I never was so sick of bias tape in all my life. But I figure I probably saved close to ten dollars, compared to if I'd bought enough ready-made to bind both dresses, so it was worth it - and this way the colours matched exactly!
I'll probably never make this dress for myself - it isn't really my style - and I don't highly recommend it, as it is a bit "fussy", both to make and to wear. But I think these both turned out pretty well and Katie is thrilled - I seem to have achieved my objective of a pleasing gift, and so I'm happy with them as well.