Sew Dolly Clackett: The Baby-Eating O’brien Dress

When I heard about Sew Dolly Clackett – this was the dress I’d envisioned. A beautiful, full skirted dress made from a notable fabric. The pattern for the dress was easy – I was able to buy the Sewaholic Cambie pattern – one of Roisin’s favourites from Indie Stitches (free delivery for Australians!) and it arrived quickly. The fabric, on the other hand, was more difficult. What would I be able to buy to live up to Roisin’s marvellous style?

As it turned out, the fabric was sitting right there waiting for me. A friend had offered it to me after she’s been unable to find a use for it. I thought there was just a metre or so – enough for some little boy shorts – but when I went to wash it, there was three whole metres!

Three whole metres of fabric covered in pirates!

The Baby-Eating O'Brien Dress

The Baby-Eating O’Brien Dress with Golden Loot Ballet Flats

This was actually the first thing I’d ever made from a printed pattern rather than a PDF pattern! I have to admit that when I pulled the pieces out, I felt completely overwhelmed and unsure what I’d let myself in for. This was only the fourth dress I’d ever made, with only the third dress pattern. It had pockets! And lining! And a lot less instructions than I was used to! How would I cope?

I started with the muslin. My measurements put me between size 16 and 14, but I decided to trace the 16 – it seemed easier to take things in than retracing them! I ended up taking it in a lot around my arms, then taking it in just a little bit around the waist. (Later, I realised that I’d done the seam allowances smaller than allowed for, but I decided to stay with them smaller.) I adjusted the darts slightly in some way I possibly couldn’t explain, but it definitely made the bodice fit better!

Once I had that sorted, it was time to cut into my good pirate fabric!  The bodice came together easily (to be expected since I’d already made it once for the muslin). The pockets totally threw me to start with (I’d never done in-seam style pockets before!) but – thanks to the glossary on the pattern – I worked it out and was thrilled with the result. I should have finished the top of the skirt pieces before I gathered the skirt – the material got a bit ‘thread-y’, but the gathers did distribute easily. Then – once I’d attached the bodice and skirt to the waistband – it was zipper time.

The pattern calls for an invisible zipper. I’ve never used an invisible zipper before and I’d heard they could be less strong than ‘regular’ zips. With a heavier material and a toddler who likes to pull on my skirt, I decided to go for a standard zipper. I thought I’d just have to deal with an exposed on, but decided to be brave and try my very first lapped zip – thanks to this BRILLIANT tutorial from Megan Neilsen (seriously – I owe this tutorial soooooo much that I’m going to buy myself a Megan Neilsen pattern as soon as I’ve finished with some toddler sewing) The lapped zipper isn’t perfect – there’s things to improve on for my next sew – but the basics are there and I’m thrilled with my first effort.

The Baby-Eating O'Brien Dress

Then it was time to tackle the lining (yet another first for me!). I was so concerned about lining – I really hate the feeling of the satin-y type linings, and I was worried how I’d feel if I lined this dress with that. But East Coast Fabrics had a great poly-cotton which feels wonderful. I decided not to interface the lining waistband – my machine had been a pretty good sport with all the layers, but I didn’t want to tempt fate! I know a lot of people sew the lining at the same time as the outside, but I didn’t find putting the lining together as tedious as I’d thought it might be.

Because of my zipper insertion, I needed to adapt my lining attachment slightly. I ended up sewing one side on with the machine, then using teeny tiny little hand sewn stitches to attach the other side of the zipper (while I watched my recording of Glee – perfect length of time). It ended up coming together beautifully, and lining also attached around the neck and arms easily.

Then I just needed to attach the sleeves/straps. Mine needed to be considerably shorter – my torso isn’t particularly long – so unfortunately I lost the gathering inside the dress. Next time, I’ll gather a lot higher. A couple of hems and a row of stitching around the waist and it was completed!

The Baby-Eating O'Brien Dress

The Baby-Eating O'Brien Dress

Paired with a pair of gold ballet flats (pirates loot) and photographed in front of the amazing stairs at my parent-in-laws house! Big thanks to my wonderful father-in-law for taking these beautiful photos – they really make the dress stand out!

I love the Cambie pattern – everything falls in just the right places for me, and there’s nothing like a nice swishy skirt. I’m really looking forward to wearing this one to the local shops to do my shopping tomorrow – I wonder if anyone will notice the pirates!

The Baby-Eating O'Brien Dress

And for Roisin and Nic – all the very best for your upcoming wedding. May your life be filled with memories (and other things) you create together! And here’s a little pirate-filled video in true Dolly Clackett style!



5 thoughts on “Sew Dolly Clackett: The Baby-Eating O’brien Dress

  1. Arrgghhh, says me in my best pirate voice, ahahaha! Great job on your Cambie! It flatters you beautifully! With a name like the Baby-Eating O’Brien Dress, I’d really, really love to see a close-up of that fabric! Please do share!!!

    • I definitely will – I got to the end of the post and realised I hadn’t shared any of my making photos or the fabric photo. I think I’ll have to write a whole new post for them! (If you click on the photos above, though, you should be able to see the fabric a bit better – my father-in-law took extraordinarily clear photos)

      The name is lifted straight from Muppet Treasure Island – one of my sister’s favourite childhood movies and one we watched over and over and over again 🙂

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