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Flower Girl Dress Design

AndreaSews | Posted in Fitting on

Hi folks. This one’s fun…ok, for me anyway! I’m making a flower girl dress, designing it and fumbling my way through patternmaking in order to come up with just the look I’m going for. It’s a halter dress with a fitted bodice, empire waistline, invisible zipper back, and long A-line skirt. It will be in silk dupioni, once we get out of muslin-ville. How much wearing ease should I allow across the chest? For adults, they say 2 inches in the bust for a fitted garment, but what about a little 4 year old? I was fitting it pretty snugly, figuring it would need to support the weight of the lined skirt in the back without any straps in the back to help hold it up, but now I’m having 2nd thoughts, wondering if she’ll be miserable all day in it once it gets zipped! I pinned the bodice on her and we played Simon Says to get her wiggling around, and she seemed to have a nice time, but it does fit like a glove! Do you think if I add a total of one inch, so that a finger or two could get in between her and her bodice, it would still hold up the weight of the lined skirt? I was actually hoping to be able to add a short clip-on train for her walk down the aisle.


  1. mygaley | | #1

    You are right to consider the weight of the skirt and train on this tiny bodice. When is the wedding; does she have time to grow? If it is all warm or if she is tense, "glowing" will make her dress feel tighter. I'd allow one inch ease. Also, I'd construct the skirt and lining first, also the train and let her try it on basted to the muslin bodice. That will tell you a lot. Some supports to consider: enclose clear elastic in the bodice upper seam. Don't stretch it, but it will help support the back. 2. Can you put in a grograin stay at her natural waistline? This can be made to support the weight of the skirt and train. I have even seen a rtw gown with a 2" elastic stay that fastened with velcro. The kind that uses belt loop type carriers seems to show the least. Mentioning "show" any white dress, even for this tiny girl, will have some considerations regarding bodice lining, panties, etc. Things that you will never imagine will show through white, even lined. I am envious of the good time you two must be having. Galey

    1. AndreaSews | | #2

      Thanks!!  It does help to hear that I'm on the right track. The poor little thing has been getting tired of the bodice-only fittings, and she's terrified of the pins! <chuckles>  I stayed up late and worked out the skirt and put in the zipper and even a skirt hook to hold the halter top together at her neck.  Having rid the muslin of pins and added an inch of ease, I cajoled her back into the muslin.  She seems quite happy in it.  I think our one-inch guess was a good one!  I will do the elastic in the bodice, and I will probably work on the waist stay idea as well. Thanks.

  2. mem | | #3

    use a stay around the "waist " at empire level this will support the skirt and then you wont have to squeeze her to death. I have no actual experince of this but have read about it is Roberta Carrs book on Couture sewing.

    1. AndreaSews | | #4

      Will do.  I just recently bought a book on couture techniques--I can't remember which one.  Claire Schaeffer maybe?--Maybe I'll see stays in there, or even in the Threads archives here online.  I've seen Susan Khalje do it on tv, but I need to look it over at my own pace and absorb it.  Just went to the fabric store today and gathered all my supplies.  Now I'm excited, and I think the dress will be exquisite.  Will be sure to post when I get pics, in about a month.

      1. Ralphetta | | #5

        I'm not sure the band around the waist will work on a small child.  I've worn very, very, heavy costumes made with this technique and it works great at  relieving the shoulders of carrying the weight.  However, the band at the waist needs to be snug....and more importantly a child's waist is sort of nonexistent, isn't it?

        1. AndreaSews | | #6

          haha, certainly true that the young child is less shapey. However, the young child's dress requires far less fabric, and so it wouldn't be nearly as heavy.  It's not a full skirt, and it lacks pleats and other tricks that add bulk, yardage and weight.  I think that with some interfacing and a little extra support around the middle at empire height, I can keep things hanging neatly and on-grain.

        2. Tangent | | #7

          Regarding a band around the waist as a weight-carrier:  how about a mini-corset?  A snug-fitting band of fabric, like a wide belt, about 6 inches high, with curved vertical darts stiffened with plastic boning about every 2 inches, to shape the waist? The fabric could have some sideways stretch for comfort, and if the boning was about every 2 inches, it should comfortably carry a fair bit of weight.  It could be fastened with velcro.  The skirt assembly could fasten to thie corset, but it might be more comfortable if the corset was worn seperately, underneath a stiffened skirt waistband.  The boning would distribute the pressure of the weight. The slightly-indented waist should keep the corset from sliding down over the hips, and give the Little Miss a bit of a shape, too.       Comments?

          Incidentally, I spent 2 summers wearing Victorian costumes, corset and all.


          1. thehat | | #8

            did you like the out fits that you had to ware  did you make all of  the clothes did you have a good time and was they really hot

          2. Tangent | | #9

            Hi TheHat!  Yes, I designed and made the outfits, and yes I enjoyed wearing them, even though it was a lot of weight.  Hot weather wasn't a problem often, but when it was I would dampen the bodice with water, and it cooled me as it evaporated. The main problem was walking across gravel with 'nice' shoes! Or getting a heel caught in the boardwalk..... 

  3. Tangent | | #10

    Hi AndreaSews,  how are you doing on that little bridesmaid dress?

    1. AndreaSews | | #11

      Hi, and thanks for asking.  I'm about to sew up my final (I hope it's final!) muslin.  Drafting the pattern from scratch, there have been many changes, and I just don't want to fowl up the good fabric!!  I'm at a stumbling point now in attaching the skirt and its lining.  It's b/c of the design, which is lapped in the front--a sort of criss-cross halter forming a V.  I honestly don't think I could explain it in writing--I'm thinking of sharing it in person with a sewing friend locally, maybe at my next sewing guild, b/c I'm stumped!! I'll keep you posted!

      1. Tangent | | #12

        Im I right in thinking the problem is to design a train for her dress, so it's not too heavy, but especially, how to fasten this thing to the dress?  What about reducing the weight of the train and fastening it to the inside of the top edge of the bodice back?   One layer of fabric, hemmed at the sides, with a deeper hem at the bottom (for weight) and gathered into a band at the top, fastened by snaps or velcro into the inside of the top seam of the bodice back?  Then it could be removed when it's not needed.  Sort of like a 'Superhero' cape?


        1. AndreaSews | | #13

          Thanks, Tangent.  No, that's not my current quandary.  I had originally written to ask suggestions for stabilizing the bodice and adjusting the ease in order to accommodate the weight of the train without sagging or restricting excessively.  That problem was solved successfully.

          1. Tangent | | #14

            When you get it done, it would be nice to see a picture or two of the finished dress.  What stage is it at now?

          2. AndreaSews | | #15

            Thanks.  I will be sure to post a link to the pictures when I get it done.  I'm working out the final(?) muslin right now, trying to find a way to let the bodice lining get sewn into the dress and hang free, rather than sewn in as facings.  Since the front of the bodice is in 2 pieces...well, four if you count the band the binds the neckline...and then criss crosses, there is a place where it seems the lining will be sewn down, front and center at the meeting of the bodice and the skirt.  I'd like to improve on that if I can, so it hangs more neatly and comfortably.  Thanks for your interest in this project, which is dear to my heart!

          3. Teaf5 | | #16

            If I read your lining question correctly, maybe the best option would be to line each part of the bodice separately, and then attach them all together.  Especially on halter tops, the halves of the bodice can be finished much more easily if you do them that way and then overlap the finished pieces.   Plus, if the flower girl grows, it's easy to let out a little ease at the last minute.

          4. AndreaSews | | #17

            Yes, that is the current plan.  And good point about being able to add ease!  I hadn't thought of that.

          5. Teaf5 | | #18

            Any of us who have sewn our sisters, friends, nieces into their wedding outfits have great respect for designs that offer last-minute ease!

    2. AndreaSews | | #19

      I have pictures to share (Oh, I'm sure there's some other way preferred for posting about that!) at long last!  I had trouble getting just the right shots to show off the dress, so you might have to go through the shlideshow and gather up the details on your own!  Thanks to all who provided input and encouragement!



      1. User avater
        Becky-book | | #20

        Went to the Kodak site, couldn't view your pictures.

      2. kayrosie | | #21

        I wanted to see the pic. so bad but could not get them to come up. Said no album for this person.   Let me know if there is a way I can see. I am make two flower girl dresses and would like to see yours.   I am using a pattern though and trying to get it to stand out so I am using crinilion and I have never sewed with that before.



        1. AndreaSews | | #22

          Hmm.  I don't know what that was about.  Here's a different URL for the same pics.  <shrug>  http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?mode=fromshare&Uc=10nskech.4eeivztp&Uy=-c0fmju&Ux=0

          1. kayrosie | | #25

            Okay I posted my pictures of the dress on one of sites but I will post it here for you..

            Hope athey come through for you.


          2. ctirish | | #27

            I just noticed there is an area for photos on the gatherings website. Would you consider posting your photos there. I think it would be great to see photos of anything and everything people have made.  It would be an Inspiration for all.

      3. Tangent | | #23

        Thanks for posting the pictures, they are adorable! 

        1. kayrosie | | #24

          Yes thanks for sending pic. to me.  They were good.  Alot of work went into the designing and all.  Good job.  Looks like it hung just right.



      4. ctirish | | #26

        I was reading through this thread and I am amazed you did the design. I looked at the pictures and the dress is beautiful. Obviously well designed and well made as it stood up to all the activities at a wedding. I love the levitation photo. The train was such a fun and cute addition. She must have been thrilled her dress looked look like the brides. Stunning job.

        Do you know if the mother of the little girl made her dress or purchased it?  It has some really nice lines to it?

        1. AndreaSews | | #28

          Thanks for your coments re: the dress's design and fit.  I wonder if I didn't understand your Q correctly--You asked if the mother of the little girl made it or purchased it.  I'm the girl's mother, and I did make it.  As for your suggestion about attaching a photo for the photo section, I checked down there and saw that it doesn't seem to get much traffic.  I'll just leave the pics where they are rather than posting in a new way in a new place.  An interested reader is welcome to view them with the link provided in a previous post.

          1. ctirish | | #29

            I think I have been asking about the dress you wore to the wedding. It is stunning, I really like it.  It has a cute shrug sort of look at the shoulders and the pleats along the bottom of the front.  Is it your own design or did you use a pattern?  What type of fabric did you use for it? I guess the question is can you fill us in on your dress?  

            As for the pictures, I thought if we started using that area for just the photos, we could look at them easily instead of going through the previous messages looking for the one with the pictures in it. I also thought it might encourage more people to put photos out there. just a thought....not a big deal...

          2. AndreaSews | | #30

            Oh, you meant _my_ dress!  Thanks for noticing.  I did make it. It was Vogue 8280 http://store.sewingtoday.com/cgi-bin/voguepatterns/shop.cgi?s.item.V8280=x&TI=20009&page=1  It was a little tricky to get through, and yet trickier when adjusting the fit through the shoulders.  The bodice back piece is no different in the shoulder area than any sleeved bodice,  but the "flanges" as they are called in the front swoop up from the side seam, right under the arm, and widen to meet the bodice back at the shoulder seam.  I made it with a polyester shantung.  It's a really interesting fabric.  It's woven with pink fibers in one direction and black in another.  So it appears pink, but has a funky shadow around curves, since the black peeks through slightly inthe slubs.  The reverse side is very different, and I wouldn't even like to call it the "wrong side."  It shows up Black!  And smooth and shiny, like a satin, except there are subtle horizontal slubs in pink.  I'd kind of like to get more and make a purse, self-lined with the reverse side.  But I have a whole lot of other sewing lined up right now.  Let's be realistic! :)

          3. ctirish | | #31

            You did a great job with the dress. I just checked out the pattern and I can not imagine trying to fit the shoulders and the 'flanges'.  The fabric sounds beautiful, your husband must have been so proud of your daughters and your outfits that day. wow...

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