Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Knock it Off - Bulle de savon.

Okay, there are projects and then there are PROJECTS and this is definitely one of the latter. Holy smokes I have been working forever on this dress and it has been SO much fun.

This is my contribution to Elegance & Elephant's great series Knock it Off. I love this series and I am so happy and honored that Heidi invited me along again. Thank you!
The super short explanation is: find a piece of clothes (adult or for kids) and either copy or get inspired by it and make it into a piece of kids clothing.

Last time I chose the 'inspired by' route (you can see it HERE) but this time I chose the copy route. I am SO much in love with the original that I immediately knew I wanted to make my item as close to the original as possible.

And here it is the original. First of all sorry about the color confusion - this is not the front and back of the same dress! But I pinned this quite a long time ago - before I knew about this series - and I only pinned the front side of one color combination and then the back side of the other color combination and now the dress is sold out on this Japanese web shop where I found it and I have not been able to find any other photos of it - trust me I have tried!
This is also why I have no price on the original dress but it was something in yen....hmmm such useful information I am giving out on this blog, right!

This dress is crazy and I don't remember ever made anything with that many pattern pieces. Notice how the one side is a bit wider than the other? That means that not only does the dress of course have a top and bottom/skirt part and a front and back side it ALSO has a left and a right side - ahhhhhh. Basically every pattern piece you only cut once. And the few ones you actually can cut double, like sleeve and sleeve cuff, you have to cut in two different fabrics. Yes, holy smokes.
I knew I had to make a muslin first and I started making just the bodice and sleeves (no color blocking or skirt yet) with a shirt pattern from a Japanese book that was so off (as in I had to make massive changes to get the bodice and sleeve fit the way I wanted it to.) that I would claim this dress is totally self drafted. I hope that is okay with you?! 
After all the changes to the top I made another muslin with the new bodice and sleeve pattern and this time I added a skirt. I made the final corrections to the pattern and then I started adding all the color blocking lines. Next step was tracing all the pattern pieces (top, bottom, front, back, left, right....you get the picture!) and add seam allowance to it all. Then deciding which fabrics/colors to go where. I used cotton voile for most of it except the stripy one which hmmmm I think is a rayon (found it in the sale department at Joanns). And finally the sewing.....yeeees with French seams all the way (what is wrong with me?). Told you it was a PROJECT! 

I did change a few things from the original. First of all I am not sure all their color blocking elements are different pieces. In other words I think they have printed some fabric that fits this design. Fx the grey part on the front skirt and the salmon part on the back skirt under the waist? What do you think? Oh well I don't know how to print fabric so that was an easy decision.
And since I was actually drafting all these pattern pieces I decided to move the gathering on the back skirt under the curved lower back waist piece - simply because I thought that could look super cool.
And you might have thought...did she forget the pockets? And the answer is yes and no.
I absolutely love the pockets on the original adult version but I was not sure there was enough room in the children's version without it looking cramped. All along I planned to at least make the pockets and try them on the skirt.....and somehow I must have forgot because I realized they were not on when I had been editing the photos for like an hour.....in other words a bit too late. Doh!
Last thing that is different is of course the colors. I knew I wanted navy instead of the charcoal grey and I also really wanted mint green and baby pink. I was not able to find mint green cotton voile at that time and the baby pink I bought (online) was so pale that it looked almost white when it was just one layer and that is not a good color for my little pale red head. But I am happy with the colors I ended up with but boy it was a hard decision - soooo many possibilities and since this dress is not one you just whip up in an hour you want it to be right the first time. 

This photo.....ridiculous, I know!! But the part where the wind catches the skirt is just peeeerfect so you just have to live with the rest. AND this photo makes me laugh so it is not all bad. 

And now to the tutorial. Just to be clear this is not a French seam tutorial (because there are so many of those). This is a tutorial on how you can still use a French seam even though you are sewing a shirt sleeve with ease.
And just a quick explanation of what sleeve ease is. Even though it looks like the sleeve fits perfectly into the arm hole opening when it has been sewed in, in fact the sleeve is bigger than the arm hole. The ease is lifting the sleeve ever so slightly but with no gatherings or anything like that. Make sense? Okay, tutorial time:

Just a note to why I am using my overlocker/serger to sew a french seam. I think I have talked about it before but in case I have any new readers..... instead of sewing the first narrow seam on my sewing machine and then afterwards cut it down so that threads don't stick out through the finished second seam, I simply sew the first seam with a 3 thread overlock. That way the seam is already cut and smooth. I learned this trick from my good friend Rikke who noticed that technique in a vintage dress she was altering. You can just image us geeking over a discovery like that, right! Why did we not think of that, haha.

That's it...no more for me today.

But make sure to follow along the Knock it Off series because there are some amazing ladies participating. And if you have been inspired to make your own knock off item please upload it to the Flickr pool. Heidi features her favorites from time to time and it could be YOU!


  1. Amazing dress! You can tell how much work you put into this!

  2. This.is.awesome. Pinning twice - once for the dress and once for the sleeve tutorial!

  3. That's such a cute little dress! I think that photo with the pinwheel is absolutely adorable. Also, great french seam tutorial for set-in sleeves.

  4. This is awesome, Mie! I am in love with this dress! You and your color blocking! This might be my favorite thing that you have made so far. I want to copy it badly... I don't want to slave away at it. Decisions, decisions.. The tutorial is great too! Thank you.

  5. Hi There! I am madly in love with this knock off. Just gorgeous... well done!!!

  6. Love the dress, I really really really want it!

  7. What a great dress! Just so perfectly made!

  8. Holy smokes!!! THIS IS PHENOMENAL!!!

  9. oh! what a pretty dress! you did a good job and a very good tutorial too! :-)

  10. What a unique and cute dress! I like your color combo. Before I scroll down the page, I thought yours is the original :)
    Thanks for tutorial!

    1. Oh wow you did? THAT is a compliment...thank you so much!!

  11. wow! i actually love your color combos better. simply beautiful!

  12. What an amazing dress! The color combination is so perfect.... And thank you for the tutorial; I'll be using this technique!

  13. Oh, my goodness...what a gorgeous dress!!!! Absolutely stunning! I like it better than the original! Nice work.

  14. I love, love. love that dress. The pinwheel photo is darling!

  15. Would love to invite you to my link up that goes live at 7am in the morning. We pin all those who join to our party board on pinterest.

  16. Amazing!! Every part of the dress is stunning! And you drafted the whole pattern. Wow!

    Heidi @ handmadefrenzy.blogspot.com

  17. MIe, the dress is amazing and I just love the photo where your little one is holding up the flower. Thank you SO much for sharing how you sewed the sleeve. I've pinned this!!!

  18. best knock it off ever! Love, love this dress and now my daughter is insisting on one - thanks!

  19. wow! This is SOO amazing! Better than the original :o) Thanks for linking up to Tasteful Tuesdays and for the link back :o) Can't wait to see what you bring next week. Emily @ Nap-Time Creations
    oh, and I just posted an amazing round-up from last weeks party… stop on over and check it out!

  20. oooo, just had a thought! I'm putting together a sewing series in August with literature... You interested? E-mail me for the details if you are interested! nap-timecreations@hotmail.com

  21. CONGRATS!!
    You have been featured at The DIY Dreamer! YAY! Come on over and grab your featured button, you deserve it :) http://thediydreamer.com/from-dream-to-reality/diy-projects-features-68/

    See you this evening for the latest edition of From Dream To Reality #69!

  22. I LOVE this dress, and I pinned it to my Sew What?! board. I love the colors, especially the blue and the purple. I think yours looks better than the original! Great job!

    Navy Wifey Peters @ Submarine Sunday Link Party

  23. This is an amazing dress!
    Thank you so much for linking up on Much Ado About Monday! We hope you come back next week, can't wait to see what else you've been up too!


  24. What an awesome dress! Thank you so much for linking up. Hope to see more from you on my next linky party.

  25. ADORABLE!! This turned out fabulous! Thank you for sharing with us at Monday Funday! ;) Bonnie @ Uncommon Designs

  26. So sweet :)

    Thanks for linking up last week to Creative Mondays, featuring and pinning your post this week :)


  27. How did I miss this? this design is so chic. And a French seam on a sleeve? I have NEVER seen that Mie. You are a master.

  28. Hej Mie
    Fed fed kjole og fantastisk tips mht overlocker og franske sømme, fremtiden ser allerede lysere ud :-) Jeg kommer helt sikkert til at checke ind hos dig i fremtiden.


  29. Ok so this is the CUTEST ever. I seriously think it's probably the cutest dress I've seen for a little girl ever, let alone the fact that you made it! So cute.

  30. You are so amazinly clever!!!!!

  31. This is amazing! Now I'd like to make one for myself too! :)

  32. I believe that your "knock off" is a LOT prettier than the original. I love the colors you chose to combine. As for the french seam/armhole seam tutorial: really nice, understandable instructions and clear photos. Using the serger for the first seam is genius. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your expertise. Please continue to be awesome.


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