6.24.2015

A Geranium Dress, This Time with Growth Pleats

There's no doubt about it, I am an enormous fan of the Geranium dress.  Yeah, I know, who isn't?  I didn't claim I was original, I was only stating the facts.  :)

geranium dress with growth pleats

 I've made this dress many times now.  As far as dresses go, this is one of the most practical play dresses around.  It's not too fancy for every day wear and yet it can easily be dressed up, too.

geranium back 

I wish I could take credit for the conception of this particular dress but the truth is, it's a copy.  I saw a dress basically identical to this one (with growth pleats), but in a blue more like this, in a photo in one of the Wild & Free Monthly Bundles.  Wild & Free Bundles are a resource for homeschooling families containing podcasts, articles, inspiration, nature journals and a monthly book club.  It's a paid subscription which is why I can't link to the dress.

growth pleats

In general, I love to make things my own, but one of the benefits of sewing is that you can copy things you really love once in awhile, too.  I knew I wanted mine to be in Kaufman's chambray shirting with dots.

geranium dress with growth pleats

As I was taking these photos of Iris, she was singing happy birthday to me (no, it is not my birthday) and then blowing flower petals everywhere.

geranium dress with growth pleats

"Happy Birthday to Mo-oooom!  Happy Birthday to you!  Cha-cha-cha!"

geranium dress with growth pleats

Just as she finished her song, one of my neighbors, who was on a walk came up behind me and said watching me take these photos was pulling at her heart strings.  She said she loved photography when her girls were little and asked if she could take a photo of my girls next to some greenery.  She took the photo below.  My girls were very cooperative with her direction and she captured some beautiful catchlights in Iris's eyes.

sisters 

If you want to capture large, pretty catchlights in your child's eyes, you need for them to be facing a light source.  The larger the light source, the larger the catchlights.

my girls

I do very little directing in my photography.  I love taking photos so much (and I love editing photos at least as much!).  I don't want picture taking to become a power struggle or chore for my kids.   So catchlights are a weak spot in my photography, for sure.  If I get them, it's almost always pure luck!

geranium dress

You know who captures the best catchlights? Tara!  High five, Tara!!!

so tall!

For dresses with buttonholes, I prefer to sew the buttonholes to the bodice first, before attaching the bodice to the skirt.  Otherwise, sometimes my buttonhole foot gets hung up on the bodice-skirt seam allowance.

geranium back

For the growth pleats, I added a few inches to the skirt length.  When the dress was almost finished, I had Iris try it on in order to decide where I wanted the growth pleats to start. I pressed the fabric onto itself (wrong sides together) at that point and then sewed the fold with a 1/2" seam allowance.   I kept adding pleats until it was the right length for her.  Not very scientific, but it worked!

geranium dress - with growth pleats

When I took the above photo, Iris was playing a charming game she calls  'zombie eyes'.  She pulls  her lower eyelids down and rolls her eyes so only the white are showing.  Niiiiiice, right?

and they all fall down 

Jude and Indigo didn't even know the word 'zombie' when they were three.  And so it is, life with older siblings!  :)

iris lucia

24 comments:

  1. Love this dress so much (yes, I'm also a Geranium dress fan)!!
    RK Chambray (I have a small stash of it, just in case), growth pleats (so clever), everything!!
    I'm guessing, my girl will be getting a (very) similar version soon <3
    Great set of pictures (catchlights are beautiful, but yours are truly unique).

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    1. What a nice thing to say! Thank you!

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  2. Oh, what a darling, sweet, perfect little dress!!! I am so taken with this! (I might have to copy you! Oh right, it's not pink, that could be a problem for Miss Mags.) The growth pleats give it just that little bit of old fashioned "something" (a certain ... je ne sais quoi) that I just adore. I love it. That is great info about the catchlights! For someone who uses a camera as much as I do, I know so embarrassingly little about it! Steve says I have a good eye for composition, which is nice of him to say. :-) I hardly ever think of ISO or adjust anything at all, though. I don't really think about light, I just know a good photo when I see one. I really want to learn more about it, but I'm usually too busy with my other five hundred hobbies? Haha.

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  3. eeep! it's so darling. it's the perfect fabric too! you AND tara take some amazing photos of your kids!!! I need more catchlights in my life!

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  4. I am so in love with geranium dresses... And your is so nice ! Pleats are such a good idea, I have to keep it in mind for my next version !!

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    1. Yes, you can never go wrong with more geranium dresses! :)

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  5. I keep saying it, but I just love your pictures! The pleats as well, I'll have to remember that! Are they meant to be unpicked as she grows and the skirt becomes too short?

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    1. Hi Eva,
      Thank you so much! I do not plan to unpick them. For me, they are simply decorative. I have tried to unpick hems to add length before and there is generally a difference in fading, between the fabric that was being laundered and the fabric that was protected in the hem. It probably worked better, practically speaking, when people hand washed their garments. :) Thank you again! <3

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    2. Hand washing garments for all those kids must be a lot of work :) Luckily, their mother sews as fast as they grow!

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    3. Oh nope - I am very low maintenance with my sewing and throw everything in the washing machine and the dryer. I used to hang dry the clothes I made, but I don't even do that anymore. Since I usually buy high quality fabric, I have been amazed at how well it has held up through many, many laundry cycles.
      I meant maybe growth pleats worked better back in the days when people handwashed clothing - before washing machines were invented. :)

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  6. Those growth pleats give the geranium dress a little extra "special" touch....I love the way they look on the hemline {not to mention, how practical they are}!!

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  7. Growth pleats....now THAT is a clever idea! What a beautiful dress! And I learned a new word today....catchlight. As usual your (and your neighbor's) photos are amazing!

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  8. I love this dress Rachel: those pleats are delicious! and so is Iris! what a cutie!!! I am so glad I finally have some time to read your blog again!! always a pleasure to read you and to see your kids photos. I love the ones with the cubes! I hope you are well, and I send you lots of love from France.

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  9. Such a beautiful dress! You're right, the geranium makes such a nice playdress. I love the growth pleats and that fabric. I've had my eye on that fabric for a while and need to buy some next time I order fabric. I've been trying to sew from my stash for the past while but it's always fun to have something new as well.

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  10. Such a lovely dress!! It worked so well the fabric, the pleats and the pattern, perfect!

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  11. Dying at "zombie eyes." LOL! The dress is so lovely, though - with the dots, the flutter sleeves and the pleats. Just the right amount of detail. Gorgeous photos as always, and thanks for the lesson on catchlights. I didn't know what they were called!

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  12. Lovely dress Rachel! And the photos are perfect, as always!
    I've also made some growing pleats in a few of my kids dresses but I actually never unpicked them. But I remember my grandmother used to do it every year on my dresses when I was little. I still think this is a great idea and a great detail!

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  13. Your dress is so beautifully made.... With the photography, it's sometimes hard to get all the planets to align! The child's mood, the weather, having some free time etc. etc. Had never thought of factoring catchlights in as well :) I did see a tutorial on those recently though, I think on A Beautiful Mess. Anyhow, your photos are just perfect.....

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  14. Oh man, I just the photos of your Iris here! That fabric is perfect perfect perfect. Gotta love that Geranium dress - such a classic!

    Wonder if you could let out the growth pleats and add ribbon over the lighter/faded lines or something...? Will be interesting to see!

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  15. So glad to know that my 5 year old is not the only one learning about zombies from an older sibling! :) Much Love!

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  16. Such a pretty dress! I also love the geranium pattern, but those pleats really give it something extra. Also, your photos are really lovely, so it looks like all your practice is paying off! I'm too impatient to be a good photographer ☺️

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  17. That's a lovely, lovely dress. I like the pleats as decoration too and I know I'd never be bothered unpicking them. There are too many new dresses to be sewn to alter old ones! One of the new dresses on my list I now a copy of this dress! :)
    Speaking of zombies, I recently learned there's a spoof of the Hairy McClairy books called Zombie McCrombie From The Overturned Kombi. Apparently it's not kid appropriate (obv) but I want to track down a copy...

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  18. What a great idea. Love the chambray. The dark blue is spot on.

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