if my first three geraniums came together fairly painlessly, this is one was the kind of project where the universe seems to be telling you to give up and just scrap it.  against all logic, i persevered, and the outcome is not half bad, but numerous times, i really thought it wasn’t going to make it.  here is the story of the dress destined to fail.

the interesting pintucked mustard fabric is another india score.  of course, i love the color and the texture is really neat as well.  it appears to be some kind of cotton blend, lighter than quilting weight, and i knew some of the fabric would turn into a dress for bean.  i decided on a dress length for this (though bean will always insist on pants, see if you can spot some pink striped pjs in one of the photos) to use more of the fabric, with inseam pockets.  ready to customize the pattern further, i decided to add piping, and in my mind, that piping would go around a little notched collar, how cute!


oh, where to begin.  when piecing together the bodice (step ONE), the bird print was intended to be the lining.  i thought it might be too busy on the outside of the dress.  but when i pressed my seams, i realized i had sewn the front and back bodice pieces together backwards, so the pin tucks were only showing on one side.  rather than pick it all apart, i decided to just make the birds facing out.  in the end, i’m happy i did.  i don’t think they’re overwhelming, and actually add some nice color to the dress.

next, to add piping.  i have no idea how to do this, and only guessed at it once before several months ago without very positive results.  rather than practice any remediation, i decided to guess again.  clearly, i do not have the skill or knowledge to blindly pipe a tiny notch (difficult to get right even without piping…maybe impossible with it) successfully, and i wasn’t sure how the piping should come together at the armholes or the back of the bodice.  and, why stop there…i piped every last place i could on that bodice (except the waist, which i realized after adding the skirt, and yes, i did take off that whole finicky gathered skirt and added piping there as well).


while i eventually got the armpits and back to look acceptable, the neck was a total, total disaster.  no notch could be identified, it was this crazy, puckered shape, and i was left with no choice but to hack at the neckline until it sort of resembled what a scoop neckline should look like.  fortunately, it pulls enough when worn that it’s not too noticeable, but you can definitely see the carnage in the first picture.  after all of this, i discovered that rae of course has a piping tutorial especially for geranium…my next piped geranium went much more smoothly.

as i mentioned, i attached, detached and reattached the skirt.  then i decided the birds on the bodice needed some company, and that i would add a band of birds at the hem.  first, i just added a few inches of the bird fabric, and was going to just hem that, but i realized it would leave a messy looking seam rather visible on the inside of the skirt where i had attached the bird and mustard fabric (and only pinked with zero foresight).  since critics of seam finishes on three year old clothing abound, i decided to fold up the bird hem over that exposed seam, like a binding.


i felt quite clever until i realized that, duh, because i did not stitch the ditch on the right side, that left a big old line of white stitches along the mustard fabric roughly an inch north of where the bird fabric began.  for the 100th time, i asked myself if it possibly could be worth it to correct this…repress the hem to stitch the ditch?  does anyone really care?  certainly the person wearing it wouldn’t.  i negotiated with myself to unpick the hem, and resew it again in the same place, but with matching thread.  while the seam is still visible in person (and i asked myself, why go to the trouble of unpicking and resewing in the SAME PLACE instead of just altering the placement of the hem), i’m sure you can’t see it in the photos even if you try really hard.

clearly, i was ready to be done with this dress.  however, given the unique color palate and patterns, it’s one of her most complimented wardrobe pieces.  doesn’t it always work out that way?

10 Comments on geranium #4: the little [bird] dress that could

  1. *clapping* Oh I loooove this! I’m so glad you had the mistake of making the lining the main fabric and the piping makes the dress pop. I can’t see the seam in the photos and honestly, you could’ve just left at that. It’s all about preference and yah, Bean isn’t going to care one bit.

    Fab job, Ash!!!

    • i knew you would like this one :) i agree–would have been boring with the birds on the inside. many mistakes end up working out…some are just ridiculous though, and i seem to have plenty of that type on this garment.

  2. I love it when a “disaster” dress ends up so good that it’s hard to imagine it could have been conceived any other way. Oh and I love a bit of schadenfreude at other people’s sewing disasters. :) It’s great and I applaud your honesty at not just posting a picture of a great dress and saying “look what I whipped up’

    • full disclosure, i had to look up “schadenfruede” and then, delighted at the meaning, had to listen to the pronunciation so i could accurately include it in my vernacular from now on. thanks for that great word i had *never* heard before! yes, it’s always a pleasant surprise when disasters have a happy ending. often, mine do not, so i’ll take this bird dress, crazy collar and all 😉

  3. such a great case of making lemonade from lemons (did I honestly just say that? sorry! it just seemed to apply so well:). love it with the bird fabric on the outside – such a striking fabric and a great contrast to the skirt. love this dress, esp. with all the piping. great job:)

    • thanks, lucinda! sometimes these disasters work out for the best, but for every one of these, there must be 10 that remain disasters, right? maybe that’s just me :)

  4. That bird fabric and the combination with the orange just sings. So very very beautiful. You make me want to make a trimmed Geranium next for my wee monkey. Just lovely.

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