It had been a week since Alex sent me the text message requesting a homemade Wendy Darling dress that she could wear to Comic Con and I still hadn’t responded. I wasn’t blowing her off. I was panicking. What if I can’t do it? What if it sucks? How on earth do I even begin? I began by doing what I always do. Research.
For those of you who’ve been living in a bubble since the 1950’s when Walt Disney produced the fantasy-adventure film Peter Pan, Wendy Moira Angela Darling is the young girl who escapes with the mischievous Peter Pan, a little boy who can fly, and her brothers to the island of Neverland where they have adventures involving the fairy Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, and the pirate Captain Hook. The film is based on Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy, the most famous work by J.M. Barrie in the form of a play in 1904 and a novel in 1911.
Wendy Darling’s age is unspecified, but she still sleeps in the nursery with her two younger brothers despite the fact that her father believes she is too old to do so. In the story, Wendy, her brothers, and Peter Pan leave the nursery at night and fly to Neverland using pixie dust provided by Tinker Bell. Thus, Wendy’s costume is a nightgown. It is a light shade of blue with a darker blue ribbon around the middle that ties in a bow at the back. The dress was designed with a simple false empire waist, short puffy sleeves, and a rounded neckline dress. It is not form-fitting and has no lining or petticoat.
NOTE: These images were captured from Walt Disney’s Peter Pan, released in 1953. I do not own nor pretend to own the rights to these images. They appear here only for reference and remain the property of Walt Disney pictures.
Since I had never made an article of clothing before I decided it would be easiest if I found a pattern that could be modified to create a Wendy Darling dress. The problem was that Alex is very tiny. A size zero, in fact, and I couldn’t find a pattern for a size zero. Just when I was thinking that I might have to order a pattern in children’s sizes, I thought to ask Alex for her measurements. Now a seasoned sewer probably would have realized that getting measurements should come before looking for the pattern because he would know what I did not. That sewing sizes are not the same as commercial sizes. Honestly, I don’t know why they are different, but I do know that finding your sewing size can be a humbling experience. Based on her body measurements, Alex is a sewing size 10. I was shocked, little itsy bitsy Alex a size 10? Crazy. I still refuse to look up my sewing size. LOL.
Once I figured out what size I was looking for I was able to find a suitable pattern. I settled on Simplicity pattern #4055 because one of the patterns looked very similar to the Wendy Darling nightgown and I thought it would be fairly easy to make any necessary changes. I found the pattern for about $9.00 on Amazon.
I found the fabric, thread, and ribbon at Wal-mart for about $22. What I didn’t know was how much fabric to purchase. A web search revealed that there are many ways to figure this out. There are fabric calculators, charts, and guides. Some people just learned by years of experience. Others simply guess. And some have come up with long drawn out methods that involve more math skills than I was prepared to use standing there in Wal-mart trying to figure out how much fabric to ask for. Then I came across ikatbag.com, where the blog’s author gives a great tutorial on how to estimate yardage. Admittedly, most it of it was over my head. Okay okay, truth be told, it was like reading a foreign language. But, I can recognize value when I see it and I know that this site will become a good reference for me as I become a more experienced sewer. Plus, there was one line that I did understand.
…you only need to buy as much yardage as the length of your pattern, rounded up to the nearest 1/4 yard (or metre).
This was the EASY answer I was looking for! I didn’t know the length of my pattern, but I did know Alex’s measurements and calculated that from the back of her neck to the bottom of the dress line (where she wanted the skirt to end) was 46 inches, that’s approximately 1.3 yards. That sounded ridiculously low to me so I decided to double it and round-up, just in case. Just FYI, as it turns out, 1.3-2 yards would have been perfect if I hadn’t made any errors, but I did (as you will see) so buying extra was wise.
Fabric: costume satin, turquoise
Threads: (1) Coats & Clark 100% polyester ART 210 A5 190, Cruise Blue
(2) Coats & Clark 100% polyester ART 210 L4 171, Rocket Blue
Ribbon: Offray 100% Polyester, Rocket Blue
Buttons: Le Bouton, 3/4″ (19mm), white
Once I had done my research and purchased the necessary materials it was time to move onto Phase Two: Working with the pattern. Check back soon!