I havent made anything for me. Not since my 21st when I made a ballgown for my birthday party. But the wonderful Mouse House Creations recently put a call out for testers for their Women’s Caroline party dress. I’ve spent a lot of time recently working on pieces for Moo, and a couple of bits for Monkey too, so I thought it would be a great chance to make me actually do something for me and learn a few things! I was so thrilled to be lucky enough to join.
For the first version I made, I chose a floral cotton, lined with burgundy cotton – I couldnt wait to get started and what was available locally was quite limited! I did the gathered skirt, and the sleeveless option. I added the optional belt loops and made a sash to go with it. This was my first try at princess seams and invisible zips (well, any zipper at all actually), so I was pretty pleased with how it came together. Literally.
In fact, Moo was just as pleased with it. She was delighted to see me sewing something pretty for myself. She didnt ask once for it to be for her, or for something for her instead. So I surprised her and made her a coordinating girls Caroline. She had a bodice of my lining fabric, and skirt of the main floral, with added Peter Pan collar.
For the second dress, I used a standard zip instead of the invisible zip. I added the ladies’ peter pan collar option at Moo’s request. The bodice was a yellow cotton and the skirt was an african batik fabric I’ve had for a very long time and was really pleased to find something to use it for! I made this one in the shorter above-the-knee option with the added inseam pockets (another first for me). I loved the fun feel that the colours and the length gave it.
My final Caroline (for now, I have a fourth underway!) I decided to venture into the unknown world of jersey knit. I found a gorgeous salmon pink knit fabric in our teeny haberdashery department and knew it had to be done. Again, I went for the above the knee option and the gathered skirt but without collar or pockets. For the Caroline, I am a borderline with the size, so I sized down for the knit and I really like the fit of the jersey version and was pleasantly surprised at how manageable it was to sew with. I read various bits of advice on where the grain should lie, as it was a 2-way stretch knit.
Stitching-wise, I used zigzag stitching as my stretch stitch was skipping and I dont have an overlocker/serger. Other than that, the main difference in sewing the knit version was the back. For the back, I slightly reduced the back panel size, and at the stage of joining the zip to the back, I joined the pieces instead of fitting the zip. A helpful tip from a fellow Caroline tester gave me a way to hem that worked for me (a strip of fusible interfacing along the bottom of the dress prior to hemming) and it’s worked a treat. I love this dress, its casual and cheerful, but can be dressed up a bit more too. Plus its super comfy.
My next Caroline is going to be a pleated, 3/4 sleeve affair from a beautiful Hill-Berg fabric I bought from the wonderful Betsyboo Haberdashery.
I *DEFINITELY* recommend investing in the Lady Caroline, she wont let you down! The tutorial was so user friendly. I had no trouble at all fitting the zip or doing the princess seams. Hayley guides you through making sure the size and fit is right for you, plus there are options to suit all.