Shop Dress Here: Twirly First Communion Dress
First Holy Communion dresses are some of my favorite pieces to make. Each girl has a unique personality and taste, which are reflected in the dresses they design. And this is a big day, so they take the dress selection very seriously!
My niece and I started designing her dress last fall. Unfortunately, I wasn't happy with the first design and set it aside while I focused on other things. When I came back to the project (with only a week to go before the Mass), she had a completely different vision!
The fact that she has attended multiple Sip 'n Sews was helpful. At the end of the workshops, she has some time to sew and design whatever she wants. So, when she came in for her measurements and the design meeting, she already had a sense of the process and what is realistic, and she was very comfortable expressing it.
My niece declared, "I want something that I can twirl in. I want it to look like waves when I spin and add embroidered dolphins to the skirt." She also was clear that she didn't want tulle. (She wanted something different than what she's been wearing for special occasions. And it was too "little girl.")
I only had a few days to make the dress. Not only did I suffer a "design block" after her meeting, but I didn't have a lot of textile choices in stock that would be appropriate for First Holy Communion. I said a prayer for more dress inspiration and then just went to bed. The next morning, I came across something that sparked the concept for her final dress design.
When I began patterning and cutting the dress, I wasn't confident that what I was doing would even be usable. I was fully prepared to scratch the whole thing and make her one of my most popular lace and tulle dresses if needed. (I can make those in my sleep!)
Her dress had many pieces, all of which needed to be sewn in a specific way to achieve the curves and waves of the skirt and have it lay just right. As I worked through the night to piece the dress together––by machine and by hand––my excitement grew as I began to see it come together.
Her dress is what is called a paneled godet dress. The top pieces are made of white satin and the bottom is made of soft and matte Tencel™ . The satin was a very bright white. I used an ivory textile underneath the bright white satin to subdue the blue undertones of the white and add depth to the dress. The dress moved and twirled nicely with the soft Tencel™ .
Now you might be wondering if I added the dolphins my niece requested. Yes! But just one. It might sound like just a silly joke, but the dolphin is actually an important Christian symbol dating back to the second century A.D. Her grandmother embroidered a little blue-gray dolphin inside one of the godets in the front of the dress. It peeks out when she walks or twirls, but otherwise it is hidden!
I thought the vertical seams gave the dress both a sporty and chic look, which perfectly describe my athletic and energetic niece!
The veil she wore was made by her grandmother and worn by all of her aunts for their First Holy Communion masses and celebrations.