I’m not sure why I initially stayed away from sewing for my daughter. Maybe it was the small pieces or fact she is growing so fast that I might not finish the garment before she is already the next size up! But I dipped my toe into the woven garment sewing pool with Liesl Gibson’s Tea Party Dress and now might be addicted!
When I first contacted Liesl to be a guest on the podcast, she told me she was working on another book and did I want to see a preview copy? Umm… yes!
Even though I have now made more than a few garments, I consider myself a novice garment maker. With every new piece, I learn more about construction, fabric types, needles, drape, and ease. The Building Block Dress book takes my learning to a new level.
The approach in Liesl’s book is unique and structured as I might expect if I were lucky enough to take one of her classes. She starts with helping you plan your dress (there are 60,481 different dress types you can make!), teaches you tricks to tracing your pattern and then goes through the process of making a muslin. After making your muslin, she talks about lengthening and shortening the pattern. Last but not least, she shows you eighteen different dress variations.
Your muslin is the building block dress. The variations explained and illustrated in the book relate to sleeves, silhouettes, pockets, collars and necklines along with finishing techniques. While the pattern is developed around the girls dress, the skills learned in the book are adapted to women’s sizes.
The only confusing thing about the book initially was finding the finished measurements and fabric guide for the two dress “views”. I kept expecting them to be in Chapter 1 in the section about making the muslin but they are in Chapter 2 on page 40 with the instructions on making the dress. It makes sense to me now that I’ve spent more time with the book but I wanted to let others know too.
A word to the wise: letting a three year old pick out her favorite dress in the book is a recipe for many, many, many requests. I might have to stop working and devote myself to sewing dresses if I filled every one of my daughter’s requests! But it is adorable to see her talk about her “fabric dress”. She wanted a sleeveless dress with a collar. I opted for the Building Block Dress without sleeves for my pattern. I felt it was a good way to introduce myself to the book and to make more button holes! (And if you want to plan out your dress, Liesl has provided free dress brainstorming sheets!)
We started with fabric! I let her pick from anything in my garment sewing closet. (Thankfully, she stared away from the Liberty!) She choose the floral orchid lawn from Rashida’s Mochi line for Cotton + Steel. What can I say? She has great taste!
So how did the dress turn out?
I love the small details on the dress! The skirt placket is definitely not perfect but I know the next one will look better. I can’t wait to plan my next dress!