As time was of the essence, ordering in a Dorothy costume was out of the question. I thought I had the solution in a length of blue gingham left over from lining the Princess's crib in the last century, and McCall's 5458, which I made up in red homespun here. Skip the pockets, make the body in blue gingham, and the sleeves in white, and hey presto! Except the Princess is at the foal-like stage and there was no earthly chance of making a dress with a modicum of decency with only a metre and a half of fabric.
So off we went to the shops on Saturday, where in the first shop we found the perfect small blue check in Makower's Blue Gingham - except it was the end of a roll and only 1.6m ... Cue quick rethink: we decided on a skirt with bib and straps, and also bought two metres of red satin ribbon to tie round the neck of the sheep (I did struggle with how much ribbon is needed to encompass the neck of a very fluffy sheep, and erred on the generous side, just in case.)
Then the red shoes - oh dear, the red shoes! Thereby hangs a tale as long as your arm and back, involving a decidedly high-street shy mother and daughter visiting every single possible shoe emporium, and every possible emporium which might by a remote chance sell a pair of shoes that were remotely red, and remotely fitted a Princess with the most awkward feet, Cinderella-like in their slimness, and plum in the middle of every size interval known to man. My strength began to fail, and I was a-weary, as I racked my brain for a solution to our dilemma.
So desperate did I become that I was begging my little Princess to wear shoes that did not fit, shoes that were truly uncomfortable, shoes with heels appallingly high for one of such tender years ... and finally as we entered the shop where we first started, where a pair of ruby red, kitten-heeled, excruciatingly uncomfortable-looking shoes, which I had rejected out of hand at the beginning of our outing, proved to be the most comfortable pair that a Princess had ever worn or set eyes on in all her born days - and so, dear readers, I bought them, on condition that the Princess took me straight to a coffee shop and fed me copious amounts of cake and intravenous caffeine, or failing that, half a scone and a latte, as long as I could go home and we never visited another shoe shop again, ever.
And then home to stitch, stitch, stitch - but luckily such was my dear girl's enthusiasm, she did a lot of the machining and some of the ironing, while I puzzled out how to make clothes without a pattern, which up until now has not been in Pomona's skillset.
But she was very happy with the result - not entirely authentic, but surely up to the standards of the Young Farmers, although I am not sure how the shoes will go down, severely black and protective footwear being recommended for animal handlers.
For those who might be faced with such an emergency, I made a simple dirndl skirt - the Princess is svelte enough for one width of fabric to suffice (you will need one and a half to two times the hip measurement, so for bigger hips you would have two side seams, and two pieces of two-thirds width), which she stitched into a tube.
The length was calculated by measuring the length of skirt required, then adding on enough for a double fold narrow hem (say 1 inch, or 2 cm), plus enough for the elastic waistband casing, which is made by turning over and ironing about 0.7cm/1/4in, then turning over again by the width of the elastic (3/4 in/20mm in our case), plus a tiny bit extra to make threading the elastic easier.
So, first stitch along your side seam(s) to make a tube, then around the waist for your elastic casing, leaving a gap for threading, then turn up and stitch your narrow hem.
For the bib top, I cut a double thickness on the fold, 12in/30cm square (ie a rectangle 60x30cm/24x12in) - adjust this according to the size of child, which I did by holding the fabric against her body and folding until it looked right. Iron a 30cm/12in square of lightweight interfacing to the wrong side of one half of the rectangle, fold it in half right sides together and stitch the two sides. Trim the seams and turn right sides out. We then folded the two open sides in by about 1cm/1/4in and ironed them.
For the straps we cut two long strips twice the final width of strap required, plus a seam allowance either side. This is best done on the body - we cut them extra long, and trimmed them to length at the end. Fold the straps right sides together, stitch along the long side, iron the seam open, then turn the long tubes right sides out, and iron flat positioning the seam along the middle back.
Then tuck the straps in the open bottom of the bib at the centre and fold back diagonally to leave the bib at the two top corners as in the picture, then pin in place. Topstitch the bottom of the bib closed, and topstitch the straps in place, along each side of each strap. We sewed buttons on the outside front of the skirt waistband, and buttonholes to match on the bottom two corners of the bib, working out the positions by pinning on the body. A large popper on the bottom centre inside of the bib fixes the centre to the skirt.
Then pass the straps over the shoulders and cross them at the back. They need to be quite tight to stay on - sew buttons at appropriate points on the inside of the skirt waistband, and make buttonholes in the straps - and hey presto! You just need a basket and a compliant dog (or sheep) and you have a Dorothy.
By making a detachable bib, it means that the outfit will have more than one life. We plan to reuse the skirt afterwards by shortening to a slightly more modern length by turning up a few cm and hemming, and removing the buttons to make a pretty summer skirt. We might even add a bit of ricrac or lace trim at this point.
The shirt was made using Simplicity 4206 (a sewing pattern for dummies like me!), and some white polycotton similar to school shirting, which I had been given some years ago, and never used. Be warned - this pattern comes out very small, so I made age 14 and added 4in/10cm to the body length, so that it could tuck in the skirt. By gathering tightly we achieved a puff sleeve effect.
So that's how I spent my weekend. I had dreamed of having fun with some fabric scraps and this lovely pattern, and perhaps completing another couple of Farmer's Wives, but never mind - a happy Princess in a Dorothy dress is enough to warm the cockles of anyone's heart, and easier to make than a Dorothy costume for a sheep, so I am thankful for small mercies.