Lots of people make this dress…I mean, LOTS. I’ve never seen a more popular pattern and I’ve never seen so many wonderful interpretations of a pattern. Although I have made several, lots of people have made a lot more than I have and lots of people have made more unique versions of it than I have. I DO, however, think that I maybe might just have been the first to add ric rac to the flounce seams on the skirt (maybe probably - you just never know). Anyway, here are my first few Peppermint Swirls (pre ric rac).
The first time I added ric rac, I did so because I was not getting the effect I wanted from the dress. I have to admit that a lot of my best ideas come from something not turning our right. In this instance, I was making a dress for a 4th of July patriotic contest and it was supposed to be a firecracker swirl. I had the red, white, and blue down, but the whole thing just didn’t say “FIRECRACKER!!!” to me. So I took the whole dress to Hobby Lobby with me, laid it out on the counter, and started pulling rolls of trims off the shelf and playing. This is what I came up with.
Well, after that dress, I don’t think I’ve made one WITHOUT the ric rac…everyone just seems to like that addition
This is the first swirl I've sewn where the fabric didn't come from my stash. I had to order the materials for it, and since I suspect that I am probably undercharging for this dress, I decided to track my time and expenses. The bodice fabric was fussy-cut so the elf was in the middle - he almost didn't fit since the pattern is a lot larger in real life than it looked online, but I barely got him on there where I wanted him.
Next came the swirls and, GUESS WHAT!?! I didn't have enough for 7 swirls of each of the dotted and green fabrics! I cut the dots first and my normal cutting method should have left me with a square of fabric left (equal to what would be the 8th swirl if I were cutting one). The piece I had left was not wide enough to cut the 7th swirl so I had to improvise and the top piece of the last swirl is made with 2 pieces sewn together (but I really doubt anyone will ever notice that but me). When I got to the green, I cut out the first 4 my normal way then opened up the rest of the fabric and cut one piece at a time so I could fit them all in.
Then I changed my mind on the direction of the flutter sleeves and cut out a second set. Needless to say, I have no idea how much time that took me and it would have not been a normal cutting time. But then I had everything ready to go and all the flounce tops and bottoms were sewn together. Sewing the flounces together and pressing the seams took about 15 minutes.
I like to sew the skirt first (as opposed to the bodice) for several reasons. #1, I just love sewing that skirt. #2) Sometimes I change my mind about the bodice after the skirt is done, although that was not an option with this dress. #3) Once I see all of those flounces sewed together I get inspired – I can’t wait for the rest to be done and I also know the tedious part is out of the way.
It took me an hour to sew all of the flounces together. IF you are adding ric rac, do NOT sew the last seam that joins the skirt together. It’s much easier to add the ric rac before you do that.
So, next I sew the bodice…just like the directions say with the addition of adding ric rac to my flutter sleeves BEFORE basting them onto the bodice. On this pattern, you don’t see your completed bodice until you turn it all right side out.
OOPS!!! The only think I could think of when I saw this was that my poor elf had an axe taken to the top of his head…it reminded me of some cheesy horror movie! I started pulling out fabric with the intention of remaking the bodice. I knew that if I just remade it the same way, I could eliminate the notch in the head, but it would be at the cost of losing some of the legs (and substantial time I didn't have). I could remake it out of solid and make an applique of the elf but we came back to the same problem of losing more of the elf. I had to look at my options.
I basically eliminated all of the above with the possiblity of the red. The idea of the applique stuck with me, however, and this is what I finally came up with.
So my applique idea worked - I just had to cut the fabric high enough that it raised the elf's head above the v in the neckline. The extra red on the bodice also helped take away from all of the blue we didn't notice the fabric had in it when we ordered it.
So here is the completed dress. Other things I do that help me save time and make it a little easier: I don't cut my sash until I'm ready to add it - I change my mind a lot on what fabric I want to use so I wait until I'm finished. I also sew buttonholes on my bodice before attaching the skirt so I can get that bottom buttonhole as close to the skirt as possible- I can't do this on my machine if it's attached.