The dress consists of a cut down leotard, a simply shaped skirt which on the prototype was made of 6 panels stitched together and a strapless bodice which I designed based on a Joan Hinds pattern. The bodice was double layered to make tidy edges (sewn inside out then turned out) and to test the join of bodice to skirt and leotard I sewed both layers to the bottom half, even though this was technically wrong if I had wanted to use that version for a real dress, as it made a very thick seam just below the bust line. But the main purpose was to see that it fitted, not to finish this dress.
The prototype dress, showing the panel empire line skirt
The bodice seams on the prototype dressThen came the exciting bit of cutting the proper materials - a gorgeous soft gold polyester and a shimmering see-through random weave of gold which has gold flecks in the thread. Both of these were remnants at John Lewis and I had seen the possibilities for a doll's skating dress as soon as I picked them up (don't you just love those finds!)
I sewed the leotard section first, and it fitted my Anna doll beautifully, better than any of the previous leotards I've made (maybe I'm getting better at the leg fit). I had decided that because the see-through material shows the seams, the fewer seams on it the better, so I recut paper pattern pieces - one for the front, one for the back based on the 6 pattern pieces I had previously cut. So the skirt has side seams and no others. The main straight seams were sewn with the machine, but all finishing the inside of the seams to make the edges lie flat and the hem had to be hand stitched. The skirt was then attached (by hand) to the leotard, before I sewed on the bodice (all done by hand, I could no longer trust the machine to not catch the lacy material).
The skirt sewed to the leotardI had some gold ribbon from a Christmas box of chocolates - just enough length to make the shoulder straps and doubled over waistband. I stitched the waistband on slightly too tightly so the dress has to be slid carefully over the doll's hips but it does come off and go on okay, so I didn't unpick. Plastic press studs were used for the bodice opening and the shoulder straps at the back of the dress.
After sewing the ribbon waistband and front bodice decorations
Perhaps the nicest, fiddly yet relaxing part of making the dress was sewing on the decorations. The tiny gold beads holding the sequins in place have holes too fine for the finest needle head, so had to be threaded by hand (I was constantly threading and unthreading the needle. But it was enormously satisfying work - I sat in the kitchen at the breakfast bar on a high stool (very comfortable and supportive backrest) for a while on two sunny weekend afternoons and stitched while keeping the dog company. The decorations probably took about 3 hours to stitch all told.
Close up of the front bodice decorationsAt the last minute, just before Dancing on Ice the final started on TV this evening I made the hair scrunchy. Weeks ago I had bought via ebay a new pair of American Girl skates with gold laces. These complete the outfit.
The gold laced skatesMy girls were thrilled with the result of all this effort, and I'm pleased too. All the dolls were changed back into their skating outfits (except for Belle and Matilda who don't have skates yet), and the whole family sat down to watch the skating. We were pleased with the winner too as she was our favourite.
Front view of the gold skating dress
Back view of the gold skating dress
Close up of the back decorations
All the dolls lined up for the Dancing on Ice final (l-r Anna, Samantha, Matilda, Susie, Jayne, Peter, Belle, Harriet and Elizabeth) Note that Susie is wearing Harriet's dress, and Harriet is wearing Anna's blue skating dress.