Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave!"

Lettie Lane's 4th of July Patriotic Costume
Its hotter than the 4th of July!  Indeed, and at 100 degrees outdoors this mid June weekend, this little mouse is staying indoors!

Lettie Lane is practicing her parade march and is thrilled to be in the city's celebration plans.  And, while she marches her cute little Mary Janes up and down the kitchen floor, waving her flag, I thought best to sit down and try to recall this latest adventure in sewing.

I'm not even sure I want to call myself a seamstress, but more a designer.  A costumer designer would even be more appropriate for each outfit I make these days is designed from the ground up.  And, I had a ball creating this little 4th of July parade costume.  If I step back in time for a few minutes, I can recall the areas that plagued me the most.

A Meticulous Mouse

The actual drawing of these patterns is not an issue, but rather exciting since they come so easily now.  One would have thought that the vest with its middle point and feminine flair would have given me the jitters, but it was actually the COLLAR, once again, that sent me into a tail spin.  It was not to be gathered, although some may have approached it this way, but if you look carefully at the illustration, we are once again adding little pleats.  This was done to both the front and the back of the neckline to create the look, and after a few tears and second tries, also to the lining.  This particular frock is completely lined from the sleeve edges to the hem, and where the sleeves set into the bodice.  Its tricky.  No doubt about it, but that great little hidden ladder stitch does the trick every time!

Yes, they are completely lined!

The sash was also a thorn in my paw.  Okay, so I looked up prom sashes and shoulder sashes, but these are all just elongated rectangles.  Again, look closely at the illustration and see how is drapes triangularly.  Some may say, "well it ties at the bottom creating that look", but try this on a doll, and nope!, it does not.  So I finally angled it and finished the edges with some ruching, closing them with a shiny gold button and red thread loop.

The Illustration
Making the Hat
Then came the hat.  What was this wierd looking little cap all about?  It had some kind of cloth emblem shape...that's about the only way I can describe it, and little stars around the band.  Trust me!  During the entire time I was creating this costume, I contemplated the construction of this cap. 

After several yards of paper towels, and a few whacks at a roll of buckram, I decided it had to be a cloth cap.  But, how?!  I tried two half pieces sewn together to get that pointy look at the top, but was it supposed to be pointy, or was that just the way it was drawn?  Was I taking things too literally here?  Meticulous Mouse never cuts corners.  So I studied sailor hats.  Some were made with four pieces, but I'd not seen one made with three, like a tricorne.  This actually gave you the pointy crown I was after, but even so, it was softened by the silk, and that's OKAY.

"For the land of the Free!"
I had to make four of them, so that's twelve pieces to sew together, since the two hats needed to be lined.  I found that if I stuck a pin up the center of the lining, and up the center of the top cap, you could spin the lining until it fit neatly under the cap.  After I'd gotten one lined and stitched together at the bottom, I realized that I'd forgotton about that silly emblem shape.  So out came the stitches and back to the paper towel drawing board.  This piece itself had to be lined, so I cut two, stitched the bottom edges, then stitched the top edges to the cap third, finally sewing all of that to the other two thirds. 

You may be asking why I'm going on and on about this cap, but if you ever have to make one like this, you'll appreciate what I'm sharing.  Back in October when I was going to do a second Halloween costume with witches on the border, I'd purchased some of this double-sided iron on paper for fabric appliques.  I never used it, but had it on hand, and used it to place the stars equally around the cap.  That was final step in creating this costume.  Pressing on tiny 1/2" stars.  It was kind of exciting to see it finally come together. 

Back View

Yes, this blog is long, and if you've stayed with me so far, I thank you.  Its become necessary for me to create these costumes without interruption, so I took a few photos during the process for providence.

Lastly, I found two small 48 star parade flags for the costumes.  I was much too chicken to remove them from their poles and try to wash them, so they are in their original state.  I anticipated that the colors may run, for one of them (the one I'll keep) looked as if it had gotten wet and ran with the blue.  What I loved most about these flags were the golden finials at the top that often get lost over time, or completely ommitted.

My next costume will be a fancy slip, and I'm only making the one on commission.  Then I must decide on the bathing suit or the violin concert dress. 

Wishing you a most happy 4th of July, and two weeks of summer bliss until then.

Miss E. Mouse 

"And the home of the brave!"


  1. The outfit turned out lovely. I don't line dresses of this type. I think the lining interferes with the draping of the fabric. You can get more fabric gathered into the waist if the skirt isn't two thicknesses thick so you don't have to resort to pleating. Also, if I'm going to line the bodice and the outside is gathered or draped, the lining is fitted. This makes the bodice less bulky also. Just my thoughts on these little dresses. I, too, love taking an illustration and turning it into a dress. For each doll, I end up with a basic bodice and sleeve pattern that fits exactly and then I modify that pattern to achieve the look I want. I also did that years ago, modifying commercial children's patterns to duplicate American Girl doll dresses to make my daughter matching dresses. It is a lot of fun although time consuming. The more you make, the easier it gets.

  2. Each of Lettie's dresses is so unnique. Each seamstress has their own techniques. A beautiful dress to celebrate the 4th.

    1. Dear Miss Mouse,

      I love anything patriotic and this ensemble is absolutley wonderful! I love drape of the white's perfect!! My favorite are the little stars around the hat...I always have a favorite detail that jumps out at me :)