Audrey turned 3 at the end of August, and I stuck to the "birthday dress" tradition. I've had this pattern pinned for a while now, while I worked up the gumption to try it. It is the DIY Bishop pattern by Claire Meldrum and can be found in the Sew Beautiful July/August 2012 issue. I downloaded the issue for about $5.
Now, if you just Google "DIY Bishop", you'll find a handful of posts including Claire's blog about it (http://www.clairemeldrum.ca/diy-bishop-in-july-issue-of-sew-beautiful/), another blogger who made the dress in green for her granddaughter (http://californiastitching.blogspot.com/2012/06/a-diy-smocked-dress.html?m=1), and the Sew Beautiful blog (http://sewbeautifulmag.blogspot.com/2012/06/diy-bishop-correction-sb-july-2012.html?m=1). These are all important, because there are errors in the printed pattern and concern about the directions. Even reading all of the comments on those posts was helpful! You can see why I had so much hesitation to get started: there was a lot to muddle through to get the measurements right and follow Claire's lead to not cut out a portion of the neckline.
I chose to make a 4T, which was a bit big, but she can wear it with a sweater this fall. I LOVED doing the smocking! I'm a sucker for handwork, anyway, and it really did go fast. It became addictive to see the honeycomb pattern come together.
Other new sewing skills included sewing in a placket, sewing a thread loop, and French seams (which I added, and love!). I YouTubed all of those until I was comfortable and the placket was by far the most confusing. The pattern does not walk you through it - you are on your own with dress construction.
The fabric is from Connecting Threads. It's the cutest darker purple I could find. Audrey loved it the day it came in the mail! Whew! She's all about the purple right now!
I'll be making this pattern again soon for both girls' Christmas dresses. Once the errors are overcome, it really is an easy sew!