A Shrug for Emily - Butterick 6421

Shrug/First Communion Dress
My niece Emily, who also happens to be my Goddaughter, is making her First Holy Communion in May. Her Mom bought her a very nice RTW dress, but thought it needed some alterations so they brought it to me to see what could be done.

Emily tried it on and told us that the dress felt "heavy" and "full". When we looked underneath at the lining of the dress, we found 2 layers of very stiff crinoline! So the first item on the list of alterations was to remove that itchy stuff!

It seemed as if the length of the dress would be okay after removing the crinoline and everything else fit her quite well.

But I was worried about the fact that the bodice was sleeveless. I'm always cold - and the early part of May could be warm and muggy or rainy and cool.

Emily's Mom was thinking sweaters, but Emily was decidedly unenthusiastic about that option ... and I can't say I blame her, since a sweater would cover up and detract from her dress. I was thinking removable sleeves - as in a simple, bolero style shrug made of an elegant sheer fabric to enhance the dress.

I made a shrug for myself several years ago to wear to a wedding. We had Emily try it on as an example of the style, since it was way too big and the wrong color. And she liked it - which means a lot coming from an 8 year old. We even found sheer organza and crepe-backed satin fabrics in my stash that we could use to make it. All I needed was a pattern in a girls' size ...

I looked at some patterns that are currently available for girls, but could not find the right style. The feature that is most attractive about MY shrug is the fact that there aren't any shoulder seams, and the only patterns I could find were constructed like traditional jackets with set-in sleeves.

So I decided to search for out-of-print patterns and luckily found Butterick 6421 - which is a girls' sized pattern for Dresses in various lengths, with princess seams and a-line skirts INCLUDING the exact shrug I was looking for! It's virtually the same pattern as Butterick 6534, which what I used to make my own shrug several years ago, scaled proportionally for girls and teens.

The pattern was available in the correct size from an eBay vendor, and the rest was easy. This time around I have a much nicer sewing machine AND a serger, so the seams are all finished neatly and professionally.

I traced the pattern for a size 7 and sewed and serged the underarm seams, then had Emily try it on for size. We decided to take about 3 inches off the sleeve length, but everything else was fine. The last step was to make the bias trim from the satin fabric and apply it the wrists and the neckline edges. I thought about getting fancy and using a decorative stitch, but decided that less is more, so it is sewn with just a straight stitch.

I've written a review of Butterick 6421 over at PatternReview.com.

Here are some pictures of her dress, before and after removing the crinoline. It's not quite so poofy in the skirt, but I think Emily prefers it that way - she's not really into twirly skirts.
First Communion Dress (w/crinoline)
First Communion Dress (w/o crinoline))
First Communion Dress crinolineThis is how the crinoline was attached to the lining of the dress - there were two layers, both were removed by carefully cutting and removing the stitches. And both layers are still standing up at attention in the corner of my sewing room!

First Communion Dress BodiceThis is a closeup view of the bodice section - it is covered with a layer of 'fabric' made from woven ribbons, with pearl beads as accents.

First Communion Dress Hem
This is a close-up of the hem of the dress - the woven ribbon motif is repeated.

Emily's Mom plans to make her a hairpiece/barrette with similar ribbon-work.

I'll try to share some photos of her wearing the dress and shrug, after the big day.


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