My youngest turned 4 a few weeks ago, and her birthday party was on Saturday. I have no idea how she got so big. She’s even starting junior kindergarten in a few weeks… I’m pretty sure there are going to be more than a few rough days at the beginning of September around here… and not for the kids.

This little monkey has grown up so much, even in the last few months. She has opinions on everything. Especially if something has not been put back in “the correct” location, or isn’t being done in the most efficient manner possible (according to her, of course). She loves to tell you about it in properly worded descriptive sentences – and usually more than one sentence is required! ย She loves to make you laugh, and is our cuddly one. Of course, she’s the mischievous one too, keeping us on our toes! I hope she will always keep her fun-loving attitude (and the cuddles… please let her keep the cuddles…)

I’d promised her that she would have a new party dress to wear, so I went searching for possible patterns and printed a few pictures out so she could pick. She chose the First Day Dress made by Dana from Made, purely on the twirl factor I think! I’ve been hoping to pick it up anyhow, and I’m so glad she chose it. It’s a well thought out dress and it’s wonderfully easy to work with as a base pattern for your own alterations. Dana, as usual, has written very descriptive and fun to read instructions. And there are lots of photos throughout. The skirt is almost a full circle, providing lots of room for spinning without the need for any gathering (hooray!).

I altered the dress a bit, adding an empire waist and a sash – because every party dress needs a sash! Since the swing dress option has straight sides on the bodice, it is easy to shorten it into an empire waist. No matter where you cut the bodice shorter, the skirt will always be the correct size to fit the bodice pattern piece. I measured my daughter to see about how long the bodice should be, added a little for the seam allowance at the neckline and bottom of the bodice, and then cut the bodice straight across. Since I removed quite a bit from the bodice, I cut the skirt at the size 10 length and it worked out perfectly. I love empire waists on little girls!

The sash is extra wide, so I gathered the ends (like the oliver & s Fairy Tale dress) and inserted it when I was stitching the sides of the outer dress. I think I could have made it tie in a bow – but it was a tad too short at 24″ each, so I used a knot instead. I think 36″ long each would have been perfect… note to self for next time! The skirt fabric came from Fabric Sparkย (still available here) and I bought it back in the spring when I interviewed Daryl for the Canadian Online Fabric Store series. Of course, even though I had it that long ago, I waited until last Thursday to sew it up – as per the usual! Thankfully the sizing was perfect, and it is a really simple dress to sew.

I also used a different construction method to attach the lining. The instructions Heidi from Elegance and Elephants has written up on how to stitch an outer and lining togetherย comes together much more easily. I think it’s called the “burrito” style of stitching it up. To do this, finish the neckline and back opening of the dress completely – top-stitching included. Then attach the sleeves and stitch the arm holes as per Heidi’s instructions. To stitch the side seams together, match the right sides of the outer and the lining and stitch each side of the dress with one long seam. This method has a nicer finish than ironing the edges in and then stitching them together.

How do I finish a post up about my little girl? I don’t know… right now I just want to keep her little. But of course that’s not an option, so we keep moving ahead and pray for her to grow up into a strong, amazing woman. And meanwhile, enjoy the hugs and the little hands holding ours… (is the screen blurry, or is just me…)