Monday, January 9, 2012

A Ballgown and a Birthday Cake

 With my little girls birthday being less than two week away from Christmas, it can be a small challenge to make her feel extra special. Especially with all of the parties and gifts being given all around. I started a tradition on her very first birthday, to make her as princessy as I could on her special day. Each year, I make her a very fancy dress. It usually costs less than twenty dollars, and it's designed to her liking. She picks the colors and the style, and often she'll pick out the fabric. Her daddy will buy her new shoes and accessories (for those who personally know this particular 4 year old, know that this is a big deal to her, for she is every cliche of a girly girl), and on her birthday we dress her up, take her to get her portraits done, and then take her to a restaurant of her choice. She gets so much attention in her get up, it would be impossible to make her feel anymore the center of attention! We will then come home and do cake and ice cream, the cake of course, is made to her order.

 I cannot assume credit for the design of this cake, I took elements that I've seen on pinterest or other websites, and put them all together in one cake. All I was told was that she wanted a "Rainbow Hello Kitty Cake".
I bought two boxes of white cake mix, and made them per instructions. I then divided the batter into six equal parts and mixed in gel food coloring and baked each round for 20 minutes.

 The frosting was done by taking a piping bag, and placing a line of gel food coloring for each color, halfway up the bag down to the tip. I then carefully added white butter cream frosting  into the bag and squeezed out little swirlies. The recipe for the frosting is: 4 sticks of butter, 1 bag of powdered sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk.

After each round was cooled, I stacked them in rainbow order from purple on the bottom, to red at the top with a thin layer of frosting in between. I frosted the outside of the cake in white, then drew on the Hello Kitty in black. I took straight gel food coloring and painted in the bow and the nose, then swirled on the colored rainbow curly-q's.

I know you can't really see the details in my dress design, but the whole thing started with a drawing of the dress. I did a mental breakdown of the dress, figuring out which pieces I would need to make. I wanted to make a diagonal pleated bodice, a sash, a side "scoop", and a shear multi-layered skirt with different types of shear and tulle.

 I decided I would need two pleated pieces for the front outside of the bodice, 1 large piece for the inside front, and two pieces each for the inside and outside of the back and side of the bodice. 1 long tubular piece for the sash, two long swags for the scoop, two long pieces for "sleeves", several layers of tulle and shear, and a zipper. I pieced it together mentally, and wrote out my plan in step by step increments. I also planned on using scraps to make a flower that would be sewn to the skirt, where it meets the sash. I measured my girl, then used those measurements to draw the pattern pieces onto tissue paper.

I took a long piece of fabric and began pleating it. This is not an accordion pleat, but a box pleat. After the initial fold, which is pressed with an iron, I measured an inch and made another fold in the same direction. The box pleat is made with two outside folds, followed by two inside folds, then repeated all the way across. You can use a piece of cardboard to get a straighter edge, if you like.

 I held my pattern pieces up to my girl, to check the size. When I was satisfied that they were the proper size and shape, I carefully laid my front outside bodice piece to my first pleated half, and gently cut it out. I then laid my cut piece over the second pleated half, lining up my folds so that the seams would match up precisely. I flipped over my bodice pattern, laid it in place, and carefully cut it out. Laying the right sides of the two front bodice pieces together and pinning them, I sewed up the middle of the bodice, using a half inch seam allowance.
 I placed my large inner front bodice piece over the now singular outer front piece, and sewed up the sides and front. If it weren't for the pleats, I would have sewn both inner and outer bodice pieces together first, before sewing them to each other. But I didn't want to mess up any of my folds, and it didn't matter to me if there were raw seams showing on the inside of the bodice.
I took the four identical side/back pieces, and sewed two together for each side, at the top and sides. I turned them right side out and pressed them flat, and then pinned them to the front bodice piece and sewed them in place. To clean it up as best I could, I did a zigzag stitch over the raw edge to keep the edges from fraying.

 I folded the long sash piece in half width-wise, with right sides together and sewed it. I then turned it right side out, and placing the seam in the middle of the back side so that it wouldn't show, I pinned the sash to the bodice and sewed it into place.
The two swag pieces were placed right sides together, pinned, sewn, turned right side out, and then sewn to the bottom of the sash. These two bottom pieces were sewn together in the back, with the zipper sewn onto the sides of the bodice piece.

I hung the bodice on a hanger, and suspended it in the middle of the room so I could attach the many layers of the skirt. I started with a black underskirt, in lining fabric, then black tulle, sparkly black shear, red tulle, sparkly red shear, all sewn to the inside of the bottom of the sash, underneath the scoop. I sewed by hand, to ensure the folds stayed just the way I wanted them.
I folded and pressed the top and bottom of the two sleeve pieces, and hemmed them down before sewing them into long tubes and stitching them to the sides of the bodice.

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