The Wishing Flower Dress

I was so inspired by a post at The Next Bird, she had spilled some bleach on a pair of leggings and decided to “fix” it with a bleach pen. She drew a lily and then a gorgeous, intricate design on a shirt, with the bleach pen. I loved this idea and was instantly inspired by it. I wanted to make my daughter a little summer, day dress and I wanted “wishing flowers” on it. I pictured soft, lightweight knit fabric, a circle, braided neckline and an A-line dress with sweet, little wishing flowers blowing in the breeze.

dress ahome made

Wishing flowers are my daughter’s name for a dandelion when its in the white, puffy stage. Because, of course you’re supposed to make a wish and blow on the flower. This girl loves, loves, loves wishing flowers. She will ask me to stop the car if we’re driving along and we see one. And if they are in bloom at the park, she will bypass the swings (the swings!!!) to go make wishes (to the everlasting delight of the landscapers, I am sure.) I wanted to give her wishing flowers all year long so here’s what I did!

I started with a large women’s tee. A very basic v-neck, one of those $8 ones from Target. For some reason (even though I am not remotely a tee-shirt person) I felt compelled to buy one in every colour just after I had my daughter. They’ve been worn maybe once or twice, I still don’t understand it. But, I have gobs of tees to refashion into fun, little, knit dresses for my girl so its turned out to be a good thing. 🙂 I don’t have a before picture, but I’m pretty sure you can imagine a v-neck tee in your head. 🙂 It is a lovely periwinkle colour and I thought it would be a super backdrop colour for my wishing flowers.

This was done pretty randomly, no patterns or anything. I used on of her tank tops to measure out the armhole, which of course, ended up being too big because I did the neckline different and I had to go back and make it smaller once the whole dress was done. 🙂 Ah, the joys of winging it. 🙂

So I measured across the front of her chest to determine how wide I wanted the front bodice to be and then I added a couple inches because I wanted to gather up the bodice to the braided neckline. I cut out front and back  pieces, using the measurement I took for the top of the bodice/dress. I also extended the sides out softly for an A-line finish. I left the bottom hem intact, planning to use it as the bottom of my dress.

front and back cut outs

I sewed the sides together and then folded the armholes under just a teeny bit and finished it off with a narrow zig zag stitch. The dress part was done, now on to the neckline!

folded over edge and sew narrow zig zag on arm holes

Then I cut three, long, long strips of fabric from the leftovers. I stretched and pulled on them and braided them together, pulling a bit as I went. (Do you like the piece of my hair caught in the braided knit? I thought that was classy, didn’t see it until I uploaded the picture!!)

Braided strips of fabric

I measured the length of the braided trim around her shoulders, where I wanted the dress to lay and made sure it would fit over her head. Once I had the length, I put a couple of hand stitches in each end of the braid and  then hand sewed the two ends together. I kind of tucked the loose edges in so (hopefully) it looked like the ends were braided together. Now I had a big, circle braid.

sew end of braided strips together

I wanted the connected part of the trim to be in the back of the dress. I found the front, middle of the trim circle and pinned it to the front middle of the dress, folding the edge of the bodice in just a 1/4 of an inch. I took my original chest measurement which was about 6 inches and divided it in half. I measured on the braided trim, 3 inches from the pin (on each side) and pinned the end of my bodice at that point. Hopefully this makes sense to you!!

handsew trim to back neck

Then I hand sewed the top of the bodice to the inside of the braid. I did it by hand because I didn’t want the stitches going through the braid and then being visible on the outside of the dress. I kind of gathered it up manually as I went, and since it was only a few inches on either side it was a quick deal. 🙂  I folded the edge of the bodice slightly under. This picture shows the inside of the front of the dress.

hand sew braided strip to front neckline

Now we have a fun, frolicky dress perfect for a hot, sunny day! But we aren’t done yet. . .

finished dress, ready to bleach pen

Get out that bleach pen!!!! I put a piece of cardboard inside the dress to protect the back, I didn’t want the design bleeding on the back! I drew out my design in white crayon so I had something to follow. I took a picture, but all you could see was blue fabric. 🙂

drawing on fabric with bleach pen

Then, using the narrow end of the pen, I followed my design. It isn’t an exact science and lets face it, I’m not an artist. 🙂

bleach is working

I let it sit until the bleach dried. It took longer in the middle where the was a lot of bleach. When it was dried I threw it in the wash, easy peasy!!

close up of bleach pen drawing on dress

My daughter loves it, I love it! It was a fun project that went just as I’d hoped!! I’d like some better pictures of the dress. When I made the arm holes smaller to fit my daughter, I found it didn’t fit as nicely on the dress form. That form is a 2/3T and its bigger than my petite, little 5 year old!!



I would have liked the bleach drawing to be a little more precise, perhaps more refined. However my drawing skills are pretty basic, and the bleach just kind of comes out of the pen. But I think it looks fun and whimsical, which is what I was going for.

close up of bleach

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