Bella Blvd partnered up with Riley Blake Designs a while back, to bring some of Bella's most popular collections into the fabric world. We are excited to announce that the first collection, Sunny Happy Skies, is available for purchase, in both cottons and flannels. We have a few fabric experts and seamstress's working with the new fabrics, and designing fun projects that we will be sharing with you here!
Riley Blake Designs markets our fabrics under Stephanie Hunt as the designer. When purchasing or searching the Riley Blake website, it's actually easier & more efficient to find the Bella Blvd fabrics under "Stephanie Hunt" as the artist.
We are excited to introduce you to Barb Groth! Barb's daughter, Carii, works in the Bella Blvd office, and Carii's daughter (and Barb's granddaughter) is our lovely little model for today's fabric project. Barb started her sewing career in high school and has carried it on through, making outfits for her Saturday night dates, furniture for her first apartment, Christmas dresses for her daughter, and now dresses for her grandaughter, Rabeka.
The pattern I used came from the book Sewing Clothes Kids Love, by Nancy Landgon and Sabine Pollehn, which is available through Amazon. I chose this, rather than a McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick or Vogue pattern, because the patterns it offers are unique and great for combining multiple fabrics with colorful designs that, as it says, kids love. This dress was made using the Feliz Party Dress pattern to which I have added a number of embellishments and lots of ruffles. It's a two layer dress with a full-skirted underdress topped with a shorter, pinafore-style overdress. A perfect match for the bright and cheerful Bella Blvd designs of the Riley Blake fabrics.
In addition to the various Bella Blvd Sunny Happy Skies collection of fabrics, the dress includes 4 Bella Blvd crochet flowers, Daises, eighteen inches of 5/8" wide elastic, and 2 to 3 yards each of various ribbons and rick-rack trims, primarily from May Arts.
The entire outfit took about 3 days to make: including deciding which fabric pattern to use where and what embellishments to add, cutting out the pattern, edge-finishing the fabric and sewing the dress. Really the most difficult thing was making the choice of which fabric should be the main front panel and which would be the underdress (and unfortunately, mostly hidden from view).
For the bodice of the dress, I cut a strip of the yellow Bella Blvd "lace" fabric and cut out the red flower from the Sunny Happy Skies Main fabric. Then ribbons and rick-rack trim were sewn on the fabric strip and the red flower applique was machine stitched on top.
On the back, just below the sash, multiple layers of ruffles were added so that more of the coordinating fabrics and beautiful prints could contribute to the fun look of this party dress. Each ruffle was trimmed with either ribbon or rick rack to complement the colors used.
This pattern is considered to be one of the more advanced choices in the book. However, there is no zipper to install (always a good thing). The elastic in the back allows for enough stretch to easily get into and out of the dress. And there are no button holes (another good thing). So in reality, without adding a lot of embellishments, this could be a rather simple dress to create.
The Riley Blake fabric was a dream to work with! The high natural fiber content of the cotton makes it easy to cut, sew and allows the fabric to breathe. It held up well to lots of ironing which I consider an essential part of sewing.
The best part of the whole process was watching Rabeka give a giant twirl, and the smile on her face when she put on the finished dress. What Grandmother or seamstress could ask for anything more?