This past weekend, I had the joy of witnessing my daughter’s First Communion. Gianna possesses such a sweet and generous heart. It is a wonder to witness her faith grow. I believe she understood and appreciated the importance of the occasion, but we definitely enjoyed planning and preparing for the fancy-dressing part of it, too.
This post is all about clothes, but if you want to know why the day we receive our first eucharist is so special for Catholics, read more here.
Gianna and I looked through hundreds of photos of dresses to get an idea of what she liked. (See our pins here!) She asked for lace and silks and a big skirt. It wasn’t what I would have picked for her, but we went with it. My requirements were for it to be all-white (to symbolize purity and remind of the white baptismal garment) and the dress needed sleeves. It is so rare to find sleeves in special occasion dresses these days, have you noticed? It is a good thing I know how to sew.
We took a trip to the fabric store with my mother-in-law and chose the fabrics together. Again, Gianna chose a different lace than I would have. My mother-in-law recommended taffeta, instead of a satin, as the lace underlining to add body and structure. I was foolishly skeptical about this recommendation, but in the end, I am so glad I followed her experienced advice. It isn’t too stiff at all. In fact, it is just right.
I got my own way with choosing the pattern – Vogue 9072. The “Big 4” companies have a reputation for being oversized and frumpy, but this pattern was spot on for sizing and has such beautiful lines.
- Measurements: 8 years old; Height: 51 1/2 inches; Chest: 25 inches; Waist: 22 1/2 inches;
- Pattern: Vogue 9072 – Girls’ 8
- Fabric: lace, taffeta, crinoline netting, and anti-static lining from Jo-Ann Fabrics
How To Sew A Fully Lined Bodice With Sleeves By Machine
This is a fully lined dress. The assembly instructions given in the pattern employs all sorts of by-hand finishing. It turns out, it is possible to completely machine sew a fully lined dress even if it does have sleeves. Asking around for advice, my sewing guru Mie suggested an alternative construction order method. This is what we came up with.
- Assemble outer dress including attaching skirt and sleeves, but excluding attaching zipper and hemming skirt.
- Assemble the dress lining completely, including attaching netting to skirt lining.
- Sew invisible zipper to the dress, and sew the dress lining to the invisible zipper. With the dress and lining attached at the zipper, sew the lining and dress together along the neckline. This amazing tutorial shows how to do this with a skirt, but the idea is the same.
- Sew the dress and lining together at the armscyes (sleeve openings). You can machine sew them together using this “clean finish” technique. Yes, even though it has sleeves, this technique works. It’s a little crazy to visualize, and I didn’t believe it until I tried. Now I know how, I will never sew a bodice lining any other way.
- Where the bodice is attached to the skirt, sew the dress’ bodice-skirt seam allowances to the linings bodice-skirt seam allowances. The seam allowances will be hidden between the skirt layers.
- Hem the dress. I used lace hem tape and blind stitched the taffeta by hand for this step. I could have used the machine blind hem stitch, but experience has taught me that I am much faster hand sewing the hem.
By tradition, the girls wear veils for their First Eucharist. It has nothing to do with being “mini brides” or anything like that. Rather, it is a tradition carried over from when women and girls always had their hair covered in church with a hat or veil. Some still do.
For Gianna’s veil, I found a pre-made “bridal flower crown” and attached a gathered circle of tulle. (Tulle veils are crazy easy. I posted a mini-tutorial on Instagram as I was making it.)
As you can see by her smiles, Gianna was more than satisfied with the outcome. Who knows, maybe someday in the far far future, I will be sewing her another white dress?
God bless you, dear girl.