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McCall's 5966 - Easter Dresses

Lately I find myself in a bit of a philosophical quandary regarding my daughters and their clothing. Who should decide what they wear - me or them? If it's them, should anything they choose be okay (within the bounds of modesty, safety, etc)? Do they need to be taught some guidelines about matching or should they go with whatever they think is beautiful? If they need guidelines, how do I teach that without squashing their own style? And how do I know if my guidelines are the best for them? My definitions of matching or coordinating are different from others. Maybe they resonate with someone else's personal style much more than mine. It seems pointless to try to instill "rules" about what to wear based on social norms now and then try to encourage dressing for self without regard for what others think later in life. Hmmm. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, clothing choice isn't a huge issue, but all these questions were on my mind while making these Easter dresses.

I took my older daughter to the fabric store with me to help pick out fabric for spring dresses. I thought it would be a good time. In reality, I found it difficult and frustrating. We didn't like any of the same things. She liked shiny, expensive fabrics. I liked washable, discounted ones. She wanted as many bright colors as possible combined in one dress. I was picturing a more subdued look. You get the idea. In the end, (after establishing some limits) we went with the fabrics she chose and a pattern that I chose.

Dresses without cardigans

The pattern is McCall's 5966, without the sleeves. The bias-cut striped bands are applied like a facing toward the right side.

Bodice close-up

The dress is fully lined with white broadcloth. The print seemed rather summery to me, so I made the dresses sleeveless and also made cardigans for them to wear until it gets warmer.

Dresses and cardigans

I like that the cardigans break up some of the busyness of the print, but they also cover up the interesting part of the dresses. To make the cardigans, I modified Kwik Sew 2918 according to an article in Threads #108 about making twin sets from a T-shirt pattern. I do like the yellow flower buttons.

Cardigan close-up

In the end, I have to say that I don't really like these dresses. My combination of the two fabrics isn't all that successful - maybe there needs to be more striped fabric or a solid mixed in or something else and I'm not sure. It seems that there is just too much of that main fabric. Also, I don't think that I chose the best pattern for the print my daughter chose. A more creative designer type could have made it work, but I find that sort of thing very challenging.

However, my daughters both love their dresses. They love to dress alike and they are thrilled with how they turned out. They've been dancing and twirling and deciding which of the flowers on the dress is their favorite. And clearly they feel beautiful. So, I guess that counts as success.


  1. The dresses are adorable! I love the fabric and the way you put the striped fabric with it. I think the pattern works really well with the fabric. The fabric needs a relatively simple pattern to show it of and that's what you have. You don't need a more creative designer type. You did it beautifully.

  2. I second the above comment. And as you said your daughters love the dresses so that is THE definition of success and the most important thing. They look adorable.
    lurking from Toronto

  3. Well I think you did a great job picking out fabric for the dresses. Your daughter's look simply adorable!

  4. I love the dresses. The girls look adorable. I would have picked the fabric that your daughters
    chose. I love bright colors.
    I am sure the girls will want to wear the dresses because they were involved in the process.

  5. Oh these dresses are so adorable. You did a fantastic job and the binding fabric is perfect and the cardigans are also the perfect cover up.
    When we went any where in public I always made sure my children were apprporiately dressed..matching outfit..same socks :)...right footwear etc...but for hanging out at home and playing around with their friends they could pick what ever they liked. That's just how it was from the time they were little so I really never had any issues. If I forced a certain piece of clothing it never got worn... it was easier to buy or make what they liked, that way they wore the clothes.
    I see now I was fortunate because as my daughter got older (starting aroung middle school)she developed her own style which turned out to be stylish but conservative. . not frilly girlie girlie.(like I was dressing her in her younger years :).. so looking back I see it worked out well.
    It's a hard call but I think showing them basic style guidelines is the right thing to do.
    I'd say to go with your instinct ~ you're a good mommy :))

  6. I think the dresses turned out great! But I am SO with you on the frustrations of combining my limits with my daughters' (5 &7) choices. I have developed strong opinions about the image of girlhood that is marketed to kids and how different that image is from the beautiful but simple and GIRLish-not-womanish image I want for them. I think it boils down to the fact that we are all drawn to the entertaining and dramatic and as young children it's not possible to have the perspective and experience to realize that something entertaining to look at on a table is not the best thing to put on my body as a statement.
    One "trick" that has worked well for me is to go to an online fabric source and create a shopping cart with several choices meeting my criteria of price and appropriate color/motif. My daughter can choose from within these selected choices and I'm happy to pay shipping in lieu of the struggle. Or, sometimes (like with Joanns) they will have the fabric in the store which I can go and pick up.

  7. I agree with your daughters--both they and the dresses are beautiful. I think the combination of fabrics is a success. I always let my children choose what to wear, within the bounds of safety and modesty, from as early as they had opinions (about 1-1/2). I figured this was one area I could allow them control over while they were too young to have much control over anything else in their lives.

  8. I love them! I'm pretty sure my little princess would as well. Nothing subtle about a little girl, is there? :)

  9. Those are such lovely dresses! I miss making Sunday dresses for my DDs and you've brought back a happy memory!

  10. I like the dresses and the little cardigans. I have a 17 year old girl. I always limited her options and let her make the final choice about what to wear. Once, I took her to the grocery store in a tutu. She was carrying a magic wand. I wish I had taken a picture. Your girls look very happy in their pretty dresses, and those pictures are adorable.

  11. I just have to say, "I love these dresses!" They and your daughters are so darn cute. I think the striped fabric coordinates perfectly.

  12. I understand where you are coming from re guidance on the clothing front - my mum always dressed me in brown and beige polyester (it was the 70s) and as soon as I was allowed to make my own clothing decisions I bought a pair of purple cords and pink t-shirt. I LOVED them as did my Dad!
    I say gently guide them but keep in mind if you are unsure of these dresses the girls love them (look how happy and proud they are). The mix of prints is really great and they look so lovely. There's nothing wrong with letting them make a few mistakes along the way - you could remind them with photgraphic evidence when they have thier 18th/21st birtday party!

  13. Such cute dresses for your CUTE girls!

  14. Gorgeous. Both the dresses and the girls. I think you did a beautiful job.


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