On a quest to push my newly acquired dressmaking-skills to new levels, I decided to give Marriko Nakamura's round-collared dress a try. After quite a bit of head scratching, swearing and fiddling, I finally finished it. The results... I'm not sure
The pattern I used is from Marriko Nakamura's Sew Japanese book, which has 20 lovely patterns for children. I love the shape of the round-collared dress because it's so retro looking with a lovely wide line. The paper patterns enclosed in the book are full size, so no annoying photocopying to be done. The book says that any 'lightweight' fabric could be used for this dress, so I think this was my very first mistake. I chose to use some dark blue cotton twill which is quite thick, along with some cotton Christmas material which my little girl picked out herself. I think the combination caused me some problems with the collar. Next time I'll use double gauze cotton, and save myself the head scratching.
The pattern is easy to trace, there's no overlapping of other pattern lines to consider. All the pattern pieces are included except three straight edge pieces, which were easy to do using my centimetre-squared tracing paper. If you don't have squared tracing paper you might find it annoying.
The first problem I had was due to the illustrations in the book. The picture of the collar is not clear on the fabric layout guide, so my pattern ended up upside down on the collar. I've never done a collar before so had no idea which was the front or back. It's not a big deal but I sewed it perfectly, and was so pleased with myself only to find the pattern upside down. grrrrrrr.
Another question I had was why the front bodice is one centimetre shorter than the back? This makes no sense to me at all. Maybe there is a perfectly good explanation, please let me know if there is. In the end that centimetre got cut off when I trimmed the seams.
The hardest bit comes at steps five, six and seven. I call it the 'bloody fiddly collar bit', again, it was my choice of thick fabric which made it awful. It was all straight forward until I had to top stitch the bias binding in place. It took me four tries, and it still isn't perfect. It just sticks up and the bias binding would not sit nicely. I honestly thought the dress was impossible, but I just tried and tried.
Once the collar was done, I found the cuffs and sleeves so easy. The bit I was dreading was simple. I love the cuffs, and I think I will put cuffs on everything from now on. The rest of the dress was easy too. Ok, I sewed the skirt bit on wrong and had to unpick it because I was shattered by the time I got to that bit. But it went ok.
I covered some buttons, with my new button gadget, and then looked at my sewing machine and asked it if it would like to do the button holes. It smirked at me and said 'just you try it love'. So I did and the machine laughed at me and refused to do it properly. Fabric got caught, I had to struggle to get it to do the last line. I gave up. I hand sewed the button holes and it only took twenty minutes.
I think I will do a second version in lightweight cotton, and see how I get my on.