Sweetheart Dress with Geranium Dress Mods

3 of original 6 Sweetheart Dresses
3 of original 6 Sweetheart Dresses

This is going to be a photo-heavy post on the WHY you might want to modify the Sweetheart dress pattern with the Geranium dress pattern, and HOW or WHAT changes you will want to make. I’ve now made 6 original Sweetheart dresses (3 of the original 6 above), 2 Geraniums, and 1 Sweetheart/Geranium hybrid.

AHA moment
AHA moment

I literally got the lightbulb moment while making both dresses at once for upcoming birthday gifts – learn from my scribbles and bad iPhone photo.

loop to shank button option
loop to shank button option

Above you can see an almost 4-year old girl in the original Sweetheart 6T dress. Granted, we run tall/big/90th percentile in my family, but you can see some of the common issues here with the pattern. Now that said, girl is going to be 5 in a month, the issues are even more glaring. They’ve become fussy special occasion/church dresses.

So, without further ado, here’s my list:

  1. Broad shoulders/swayback don’t work with a loop-button option. A shank button (or add a shank knot to a regular button) and a button hole works better for us. Your mileage and patience may vary.
  2. The width from shoulder to waist opening isn’t large enough to get both shoulders in/out without struggling and tears parental help.
  3. Armscye is too short – this doesn’t help with getting it on, and it’s almost armpit rubbing….and IS if wearing a shirt under it.
  4. I hate gathers. They’re so much more of a pain than just putting in measured out pleats. Gathers seem easier and lazier, but really after you put in your basting rows, spend forever making your gathers even, do whatever your preferred way of keeping them in place is…you could have measured out and divided pleats. Bah.
  5. No pockets.
  6. Too long. Trying to get her to pull down her tights/leggings/underwear AND hold up a dress while she shimmies on to the pot? And you KNOW she waited until last minute to go to the bathroom… The struggle is real. Avoid it.
  7. The whole finishing the armhole after the fact is just a fiddly, wonky mess. No likey.

Disclaimer: I know, I know, some of y’all really hate criticism of any kind and think it’s all negative. This is my opinion, I mean it in the nicest way, and all that jazz. Shannon did a great job, I still love her heart-template and commend all her work. I still recommend buying Shannon’s pattern as she did all of the heavy lifting already. I’m looking at the Sweetheart pattern now as more of a Geranium-add-on option. ok? ok. moving on.

Here’s the HOW.

detail of opened up back
detail of opened up back

The biggest problem is getting that darn thing over the head/shoulders. I used the Geranium split-back skirt with pleats and pockets, and split the heart all the way down the bottom. It was like sewing the Geranium back, but instead of straight down, i sewed around half-hearts shapes on both sides, cut out and clipped, clipped, clipped curves FOREVER, pulled right side out through the shoulders and the back was nice, neat and complete. No more finishing from the shoulders on the outside.

larger over the head span
larger over the head span

Compare the photo above with the diagonal line showing the NEW over-the-head ease compared to what you can see from the girl-in-the-dress photo – WAY more room, amirite?

armscye increase
armscye increase

I cut an inch off the armscye directly on the pattern, and it made all the difference in the world.

alteration lines
alteration lines

So far, this is where we are at, and you can compare the original on the right, with the modified on the left.

Original Waist
Original Waist

Now, the original gathered waist and the length are optional flavors. Here’s the original above, and….

modified waist
modified waist

…with pleats and pockets.

modified waist with marks
modified waist with marks

Because I didn’t use contrasting fabrics, here’s some marks above to show pleats, pockets, and other alterations.

clean insides
clean insides

And last, but not least, are the finish changes. French seams, as before in my case, because little girls don’t like anything itchy or pokey. I added inseam pockets, THEN I sewed them down. If you’ve ever seen those tumblrs like Reasons Why My Son Is Crying, you know that if the kid can’t find their pocket because it floated to the back, it will end up being a meltdown.

Also, not photographed, there is a tack-stitch at the top of the skirt split…because you know they’ll yank that thing on and off, and it will split. AND I’ve started shortening the original 6, but I’m not likely to go in and split the backs after-the fact. I think I’m going to just ship them to a younger, smaller niece and move on. Lessons learned.

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