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.
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.
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.
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.
"Happy Birthday to Mo-oooom! Happy Birthday to you! Cha-cha-cha!"
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.
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.
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!
You know who captures the best catchlights? Tara! High five, Tara!!!
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.
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!
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?