Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Comfy Knit Fabric for the Perfect Christmas Nativity Dress

Last year I took it easy when it came to sewing for Christmas.  I didn't want to take on too much or stress myself out making a bunch of stuff, but I kind of missed my tradition of making my little lady a Christmas dress.  I'd seen this cotton lycra custom design fabric then and thought it was so pretty, but held back.  When I saw it was still available this year I knew I had to make a dress this year (and somehow fit that in with the dozen other "must-make" plans).

I'm so pleased that it's turned out exactly as I'd hoped.  Being knit fabric means it's comfortable and warm, but the print makes it work for a more formal holiday look and a nice change from the usual bright red & green seen everywhere:

It's just perfect for church on Christmas Eve:

The Nativity scene on the skirt is so lovely with all the stars & angels floating above it:

It's a little hard to tell here, but the fabric also has a slight ombre to it, so the blue lightens towards the hem, which I love.  I deliberately made it a little looser & longer so we can hopefully use it again next Christmas.  

The fabric is a custom print I bought from Peek-A-Book Pattern Shop.  It's offered as two different types of panels, which makes it a little trickier to use - you have to figure out how to tailor your project plan to work with how the fabric is printed & calculate how much you really need.  Custom fabric ain't super cheap, so no wastage is key!   

The wording on the bodice comes as a big square.  It's called the O Holy Night panel:

And the beautiful Nativity Border panel is printed parallel to the selvage on either side and sold by 1/2yd increment of the scene, so it requires opposite planning of how you'd usually cut out your pieces.  Thankfully the knit has 4 way stretch.  I carefully calculated that I could make the size 6/7 skirt, bodice & sleeves with just the O Holy Night panel and 2 of the nativity panels, which made it much more economical.  I cut two rectangles from either end for the skirt and used the starry bit left in the middle for the back bodice and sleeves.  

Technically there was enough left to do the cuffs & neckline too, but I prefer to use rib knits so the fabric lies smooth and has a more finished look.  As luck would have it I'd bought a few solid, smooth rib knits a month ago over at Emrose Fabrics, to use for cuffs and neckbands.  Amazingly, the shade called Blue Depths that I'd bought was a perfect match.  How often does that happen?  It's a mini-Christmas sewing miracle, I tell ya!

The dress design is actually my own chop-shop creation.  I used my modified version of Ottobre Design's Banana Dress that I did in the Fall (more on that here):

I re-drew it with just the bodice section and then added on a full gathered skirt for the lower half.  Since I didn't want to interrupt the Nativity scenes on my fabric, or have a seam in the center, I had to use all 4 which was about 66 inches.  It made the skirt quite a bit fuller to gather, so I used the trick of a wide-zig-zag around some string to do my gathering instead of 2 rows of basting stitches:

This worked out perfectly.  One of my pet peeves about gathering is ending up with one spot looking less gathered and flat after I've sewn it all together.  Not this time!

It also made it easier to center two of the scenes on the front & back of the dress:

I really love this little dress & my daughter does too.  I also have to say I love the quality of it too.  This was the first time I'd ever bought fabric from Peek-A-Boo and it was such a nice sew.  My main machine started acting up (a burr in the bobbin case housing, which now needs to go to the shop) and messed up an entire seam I'd triple stitched.  With a lot of knits, this would have been a nightmare of holes after unpicking, but this fabric held up like a champ.  A less stressed holiday sew is a real Christmas dream come true!  


  1. This is just adorable - between the fabric and pattern choices you have a complete win here. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks Bernie! I feel like this is my best one yet:)

  2. Cheryl, I wish I had a little girl to sew for. This is absolutely adorable. Nana of 4 boys:)

    1. She's my only one and the littlest so she gets A LOT of things made as a result;) Maybe a little girl will be in your future!

  3. Adorable girl with pretty dress. You're awesome.

  4. I'm SOOO in love with this!! I don't know how to sew to save my life :( My daughter wears a 6/7 & some of the materials used are not available any more. Do you know of any place that sells these? Or where else to buy the material. I might could find someone to make it for me!

    1. It was a limited print, but PeekABoo just released a new version of the blue Christmas panel and coordinating fabric - this one says Hark the Herald Angels Sing and there's both a blue knit with stars and a gold glitter-look knit and a poplin one with angels, that are pretty close: http://www.peekaboopatternshop.com/round-26/?sort=newest


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