Long, long time readers may recall my husband’s enthusiasm for a simple white sweatshirt. If not, you can read up on it starting here. Anyway, it was probably inevitable that I would make some for the twins at some point.
In any case, this small chunk (not quite 1m) of just-slightly-off-white sweatshirt fleece presented itself to me a while back, but it took me a while to settle on a pattern. My vintage baby pattern is still MIA, Jalie 3355 only goes down to a 2T size, and my other option, a cute raglan sweater pattern from the 80s, the “size 1” was already bigger than the Jalie size 2. So Jalie it was.
There isn’t much to say about a sweatshirt beyond that. I did reverse-coverstitch the little V at the neck. I had a bit of agony over the choice of ribbing, since the just-barely-off-white fabric is right in between the colours of my white and ivory ribbing. I went with white, and I’m glad I did—in the never-quite-adequate light of my basement sewing area the colours are barely distinguishable, but upstairs in what passes for daylight the white is definitely better.
I very nearly added some Mickey Mouse appliqués Syo gave the twins for Christmas, but the packaging warned they weren’t washable so I may save them for a bag or a jacket or something.
They are a little huge, which hopefully means they’ll still fit next fall. This hasn’t stopped my husband and the older girls from stuffing the twins into them at every opportunity, so the laundry stain remover is getting a workout, but that was inevitable as we persist in the folly of putting white clothes on toddlers. I wish I had “better” photos, but here in toddler land I fear this is as good as it gets.
I didn’t plan to release this on New Years, but I certainly don’t have the brain space for the introspection required of a yearly round-up post! So I’ll just say this year I parented, survived, went back to work, and around the edges got to sew a little. And we survived a pandemic, so we’ll call that a win. Next year, I hope we can get back into routines that feel a little less desperate, and let me feel a little more like myself. Partly so I can be a better mom and breadwinner, but mostly because I like enjoying my life. Anyway, let’s get on with the sewing.
I had a fair bit of scrap print left over from the overalls, so while the machines were threaded with the right colour I figured I should use it up. I figured there was enough for the bodices of two little dresses, plus pockets, and I had some white interlock (the same stuff I used for the white cuffs on the overalls) kicking around, some of it in the form of a failed T-shirt I’d tried to make my husband a few years back. So one of the skirts was pre-hemmed!
For the bodice, I just used the same vintage Stretch & Sew pattern, minus the extra swinginess I added for their Christmas shirts. . I have mislaid the original (probably buried in the Pile of fabric in the sewing room) or I would’ve traced out a larger size to have them last longer, but I think (hope) they’ll get us through the winter, anyway. The sleeves could be a bit longer. I made the bodice a slightly cropped length, which I hope will be cuter, and the skirts are just gathered rectangles, size dictated by the size of the T-shirt.
The overall style is inspired by the RTW Hallowe’en dresses Tyo (or possibly her best friend) bought the twins for their birthday. They don’t have a lot of winter dresses so hopefully these come in handy.
I wanted some element of the print on the skirts, so I added the patch pockets. I love how big and droopy the rounded ones are—they might even be able to get a toy in there. I didn’t fold under the edges of the pocket—if it’s good enough for Tin Robin it’s good enough for me!
I was a little concerned about gathering the skirts to the bodice, but cotton knits are pretty well behaved and I added some clear elastic when serging the seam so it doesn’t seem inclined to stretch out.
Unlike the Christmas shirts, these are quite neatly sewn, if I do say so myself. So I’m pretty happy.
Getting good modeled pics is pretty hard at this stage. They’re always on the go, usually in a few different directions. Now if we can just keep the white skirts from getting hopelessly stained…
Among the hand-me-downs in the 12-month size bin, which I dug out at the end of last summer, was a particularly adorable set of stretchy overalls in a rayon jersey. The pattern was extremely simple, and I loved some of the construction details like the folded edges top stitched with a zig-zag.
So I was a little shattered when I put them on Tris for the first time and realized that I seemed to have missed my window of them fitting—-they seemed far too snug and pulled too much at the crotch, so that the stretchy open sides were pulled too far down, showing her diaper if she wore a regular shirt underneath.
I’ve since reassessed a bit, and I think the fit is supposed to be quite slim, relying on the stretch to keep everything in place, and they look better on River, who remains somewhat more scrawny (not that Tris is a chonky baby at all)… but what I was imagining in my head was a bit looser with a dropped crotch, and not relying on a diaper shirt to keep the diaper covered.
It was, however, an extremely simple dropped-crotch style pattern, perfect for tracing off. So I did. I made my first version in some more of that purple polyester fleece. The biggest difference from the source material, other than the fabric being completely different, was that I added about 2” of length between the bottom of the side scoop and the dropped crotch, and then about another 1” of length to the leg.
This solved the side-gaping issue, but made it clear that the original had relied on some tension in the fabric to keep the straps on the shoulders, which was lacking in my version, so they tend to slide off. So again, the issue may be my mental picture of how they should fit. Anyway, for the second iteration, I narrowed the shoulders a little bit, which will hopefully help with this issue while still giving a bit more of the “chubby loose fit” I wanted as opposed to the “skinny slinky fit” of the originals.
My second go is with an adorable printed cotton Lycra I found at Fabricland. Now, good cotton prints at Fabricland are rare as hen’s teeth, and it was a half price sale, so I couldn’t resist.
I used steam-a-seam to make sure the hemming around the upper parts was flawless (it felt a little odd not to be using my new coverstitch here but I really liked the zigzag detail of the originals.
And the pockets came directly from the cut-out between the legs, in a nod towards minimal waste patterning. I couldn’t decide between matching cuffs and plain white, and Tyo suggested one of each—I kind of love the detail! Although I think I would also have enjoyed plain white. That’s a lot of busy print.
It still might be fun to try this out in a slinky rayon like the original (I have lots of that cinnamon rayon for one thing…) We’ll have to see. For now, at least, I think they’re pretty frickin’ adorable.
Oh, and then I googled the brand of the original, Tin Robin, and it turns out they’re made by a small business in Manitoba… so I feel like a bit of a heel for knocking them off but also it’s not like the original was exactly what I wanted and it’s a pretty generic style of baby clothes… so I dunno. They are super cute and exquisitely stylish in that modern-hippie-minimalist kind of way, which I love but could never actually implement in my own life. And if you feel like spending money on a Canadian small business, I can definitely recommend the product—the fabric is delicious and the sewing is impeccable. And she does make adult sizes! But if your baby isn’t the string-bean type, maybe size up. You’ll want them to fit for a good long while anyway!
As for my versions, I think they’re comfortably different, and pretty close to what was in my head. The twins seem to like them, anyway. And hopefully those saggy crotches will get us a few months of wear.
Last year, when the twins were just wee, my stylish sister-in-law got them some adorable 6 to 12 month size Christmas leggings… that were hilariously huge since they were still basically newborn-sized at that point.
However, this year the leggings are perfect sized! I’m not usually really big on holiday-themed outfits, since I tend to try to “save” them for the holiday and then feel sad that they only get worn once or twice, but since we had the leggings, I figured some plain red tops to set off the leggings would be a good idea.
I used the same vintage pattern as the last few shirts, tweaked to a swingy tent shape (again) because I like it with leggings. Considering my initial annoyance with it, I’ve gotten a lot of use out of this pattern (and more to come).
There’s not much more to say. They’re not at all well-sewn, being thrown together hastily in the last days before Christmas. Sewing in the moments of distraction while the twins are playing is getting harder and harder now that they can climb chairs and things. The neck bands are too tight and the cover stitching is questionable and there’s a hole in one armpit where the serger missed some stitching (that at least is easy to fix). But on the whole they’re cute and served their purpose! And will hopefully continue to be worn for a bit yet.
They used up some scraps from my second Adrienne blouse, which I haven’t managed to blog, not that there’s much to say about it since it’s identical to my first except in red. So, cute, “free”, scrap-busting, and just in time for Christmas… it’s been a bummer of a week for us (one of our old cats died, and we’re pretty devastated, frankly, on top of all the weirdness of the pandemic Christmas) so these are a win I’ll take.
The sudden appearance of the Euphoria in my life has prompted another little spate of baby sewing. The day it arrived I pulled out a number of baby patterns and did some tracing, mostly of very basic pieces.
We’ll start with Stretch & Sew 850. This is a vintage knit pattern (dating to around the era of my birth, so yeah, I guess I’m officially old now?), a very basic baby sweatsuit type of thing, in what it claims are sizes for 1-18 months.
There are only three sizes in the pattern, and the pants in the picture above, which fit the twins quite nicely, are made from the smallest size. So the “1 to 6 month size” is really more of a (large) six month size. Not the first time I’ve run into this with older baby patterns, but it still confuses me. I compared the pattern to some pants and shirts that currently fit before picking a size.
And I will say, it’s a very satisfactory little sweat-pant pattern, with one issue—there is neither pattern piece nor lengths given for the ribbing bands pieces anywhere on the pattern (so cuffs, shirt hem, and neckline). Instead, throughout the instructions tell you to measure the required length, calculate 2/3 of it, and cut a strip that length for the band. Not really too big of an issue for the cuffs, but a bit annoying for the neck of the shirt. Also, I’m like “really? You couldn’t bother to measure your own damn pattern?”
I’d chalk it up to being spoiled by the excellent hand-holding of most modern indie patterns, except I’m pretty sure the last Kwik Sew I used of a similar vintage had not only pattern pieces for all the bands, but separate ones depending on whether your bands were going to be of ribbing or self fabric.
(I won’t confess that I pretty much never use band pattern pieces anyway… so really my irritation is more a matter of form than substance.)
Also, instead of indicating a shorter cutting line for the version of the shirt that has a band at the hem, the instructions would have you cut the shirt out and then cut off 1 1/4” from the bottom. And that’s not even mentioning that the pattern calls for putting a zipper in one shoulder (with 1/4” seam allowance) to facilitate getting the shirt on and off over giant baby noggins. Anyone who was dealing with baby clothes in the 70s or early 80s, was this a thing? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shoulder zipper in baby clothes. But maybe it’s a thing?
My first go at the shirt was a bit of a fail. I used the same thick purple fleece as the pants, but in the heavy fabric it was just too small (and a sweatshirt should be roomy). It was cute, though. I wound up binding the neck rather than adding a band, so as not to make the opening any smaller. Since I did not, y’know, install a zipper. I should probably try again in a larger size.
I opted to try again in a lighter fabric—the scraps from my birthday top, in fact—but I couldn’t resist tweaking it a bit into a tent shape. And it’s very fun and swingy and perfect with leggings.
I made the sleeves about an inch longer and they’re still a bit short, but the shoulders are loose. So obviously drafted on the square baby model (which is fair, my first two babies were deliciously solid chunks, but the twins never really got there and seem to already be moving towards lean toddlerhood…)
At the same time I was tracing S&S 850, I thought I would check out what the smallest size of my trusty old Jalie 2920 leggings pattern looked like. The smallest size is for 2 years, but it was actually smaller than the sweatpants pattern I used above, so I figured I’d test it out. Obviously it’s for leggings, not sweatpants, so the amount of intended ease (and stretch) is very different. I made it up in this beautiful/horrible slippery polyester blue print (covered in shiny silver dots) that is perfect for making a toddler happy. I figured the worst case scenario is I add them to the boxes of size 2 hand-me-downs I’m already hoarding. But the poly fabric actually isn’t super stretchy, so while they’re a little roomy now as leggings go I don’t think they’ll make it to age two. And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I’m much fonder of the Jalie pattern.
As I dug through a box looking for knit fabrics for an Adrienne blouse or Luna tank, I stumbled across a couple of wee scraps obviously hoarded from other projects. Why they’re in general population and not the scrap bin I couldn’t tell you except that outside of work my approach to organization is, um, lackadaisical. But anyway. There was a bit of pale blue burnout fabric that became another swingy tee, though I did have to cut the wee short sleeves on the cross-grain (this fabric hasn’t much stretch so it seems to be working)
I will say, the Euphoria handles these lightweight hems like magic. I haven’t needed to stabilize anything, a bit of tweaking of the tensions has been all it’s needed. I’m getting a bit better at folding the hems under consistently. I do think I’d like to invest in the clear presser foot, to make topstitching the neckline tidily easier.
A second piece must be an off-cut from a knit maxi dress I made some time ago. I love this fabric. The piece wasn’t quite long enough for leggings, but I figured with the addition of a coordinating black extra-wide baby-grow style cuff they would work (and I was feeling bored with shirts.)
I used Jalie 2920 again, but pinched out about 1/2” from the width, plus the aforementioned length modifications.
I’m pretty happy with how they turned out although I’m not sure how sturdy they’ll be. Still cute.
If you’ve been following along, you may have noticed a trend of impractical white baby wear on this page that experienced parents like us should be wise enough to avoid. What can I say? Having two more babies just as the first two are almost grown wasn’t exactly practical either.
Anyway, my husband bought a white baby jean jacket the other day, but there were no white jeans at the store to go with it. So obviously I had to make some.
Fortunately, my hoarder tendencies come in handy in the sewing department. I’ve had this vintage pattern (I actually have gathered a collection for the whole family, women’s, men’s, and several children’s sizes) for a while. My mother, in fact, recognized the pattern line and told me she’d made me a pair of little jeans from them back in the day. A little bit of digging turned up a lightweight white twill (poly-cotton, I’m pretty sure) and white topstitching thread.
Anyway, the pattern claimed to be a size 1, however between the twins being rather shrimpy and patterns tending to fit large I figured they would be roomy. But if you’re going to sew ridiculous white baby jeans, you can at least make them with room to grow, right?
The pattern, as one might expect for baby jeans, is a bit stripped down. The fly is just for show and there’s no back yoke at all. The front pockets are real but have no lining—the cut-out curve is hemmed and the back portion is just top stitched in place.
There’s a few other bulk-reducing points that I appreciated in a baby pattern. The waistband (only present in the front half) is cut on the selvedge so the inside doesn’t need to be folded under. The elastic is applied to the inside of the back, not folded into a casing. And finally, the “jeans stitch” the instructions recommend has you trim one seam allowance, overlock the other, and topstitch down. I was surprised at how much bulk this cut down, too. Usually I just overlock both edges together and stitch down, and I like the bulk in regular sized jeans, but for baby jeans anything that reduces bulk is awesome.
They close with snaps at the side-seams, a bit of a rudimentary closure where the top couple of inches of side seam are just left open. I doubt any closure is really necessary, given the elastic across the back waist, but I went with it as I figured if they were too big I could easily add another set of snaps to adjust them. Which I had to. Although I’ll already have to replace at least one. Oops.
My favourite touch, though, is the little dragon patches I added to the back pockets. The iron-on patches have been kicking around the stash for years, originally for Tyo and her bestie to put on their jackets but since that hasn’t happened I don’t feel bad yoinking them. I did iron them in place, but I trust that about as far as I can throw my husband, so I also spent my Saturday painfully hand-stitching down the edges. Hand-stitching through fusible guck sucks, by the way, and it’s hard to use a thimble when you can only get about three stitches done at a time before a baby face plants on you.
I had a lot of fun making these, impractical and oversized as they may be. The topstitching was fun, and white on white is forgiving. And the little dragons add a dash of personality. I was pretty dubious about the waistband construction the whole way (to be honest I really didn’t understand what they were going for until the very end) but I’m not mad at it, though I might not bother with the side openings if I did it again. But it’s definitely time to get back to my own jeans. These darn baby projects just like to sneak themselves in there!
I can’t remember who gave us the hand-me-down little white shirt (on the right). It’s Baby Gap, and fairly exquisite, with lots of cute details—back buttons, smocking, little puffed sleeves.
But there was, of course, only one, and while I don’t NEED to dress my twins alike, it’s fun to at least have them coordinating. So for a long time I’ve wanted to make a second similar shirt.
Things crystallized when I came across two little scraps of pintucked batiste, I think made as demonstration or practice pieces, too tiny for most anything but with too much labour put into them to send them to the bin. Just right, as it turns out, for making a wee little 6-month sized shirt.
Not much went into the making of this shirt. I sewed the side seams (actually I think I forgot to press them!). I rolled tiny hems with the rolled hem foot on my Featherweight, which for once behaved almost flawlessly, top and bottom. I hand-wound a bobbin of elastic thread for my modern Janome machine (I’m sure it would’ve worked for the Featherweight too but I didn’t have any empty bobbins for that one), and made a few rows of elasticated shirring stitches around the top of the shirt.
What took the longest was actually finding a similar off white fabric for the little sleeve/shoulder straps (and if the light is good you can see I didn’t quite succeed). The batiste I had made the pintucks in is just faintly ivory in colour. I’m sure I have more of it in stash somewhere, but I didn’t manage to find it, so I wound up going with a slightly heavier cotton for the sleeves. And the colour that seemed to match in my basement sewing room is, of course, way off in daylight. Ah well. Again they’re just rectangles, the edges narrow-hemmed, and a couple of rows of shirring added.
I basically guesstimated where to stitch the sleeves down front and back, but they seem to work all right. As a bonus, the very stretchy shirring makes it quite easy to take on and off.
So I’m pretty charmed by it, and I think it’s a good mate to the storebought one. We also have one matching (though from a completely different brand again) white ruffly diaper cover… now if I can just manage to make another of those!
A few weeks back I presented my husband with several pieces of fabric for potential baby dresses, and he selected this blue/white shot cotton. And then we both got ridiculously distracted by dressing the babies in matching white things. You’d think we were noob parents, not veterans of 20 years. But the other day I finally tackled it.
These came together during a single day’s naps. (Which totals about four hours although less than half of that is reliable “usable” time.) this is possible only because I didn’t use a pattern or need to rethread any of the machines, and I had the fabric pre-washed and ready to go.
These look slightly different from the white and red-striped versions, but the basic idea is the same. I used the full width of the 45” fabric to make the dresses. I made the armscye curves a little bit smaller this time around, which means they’re less oversized than the other dresses… I may regret this later but I like how they fit now and our sundress season is short. They’re also a little shorter, although still long enough to catch on R’s knees now she’s crawling.
The biggest change I wanted this time around was to incorporate a bodice panel type thing front and back. Inspired by the free Oliver & S Popover Sundress, which I made aeons ago when my niece was three, but only goes down to a size 2. So the panels would serve as binding for the front and back, and then I would add bias tape to the armscyes that turned into the shoulder ties. (Opposite of the other two dresses, where the ties came from the binding that encased the front and back gathering.)
I also chose a wider binding this time, so I made sure to pre-press the armscye curve into it. I used pleats instead of gathering, just for a change, as I was bored of gathering, though I don’t know that the pleats where any less time consuming. And finally, I added a bit of pompom lace to the fronts.
As with the white dresses, I used the full width of the fabric, with a single seam in the back. I cut the front and back panels to the width I knew I wanted the chest to be, 12 cm, and then pleated to match that. I forced myself not to fuss too much over the pleats.
My bias strips came out a bit shorter this time (or the method of binding the armscye requires a longer strip) so they tie in knots, not bows, but that’s all right for the thicker binding as bows might be quite bulky. I could’ve pieced for longer strips, but I didn’t.
I should maybe pause to mention that having a rotary cutter and mat has changed how I tend to make bias tape. I still start with a rectangle, cut off one end at a bias corner, and sew that to the other end, but instead of sewing the resulting parallelogram into an offset tube and cutting miles of continuous bias, I tend to cut individual strips, sewing them together only as necessary. It’s more annoying sewing the strips individually but the cutting is so much faster and more precise.
The worst part of nap time sewing is that I can’t really take process pictures, as I use my phone to play soothing white noise for the babies. I always prefer blog posts with process pictures. Oh well.
I gotta say, I think these are my favourite yet. I love the lace and the panel and the pleats. Part of me is wondering how many more little sundresses they could possibly need, but another part of me is eyeing up every light-weight cotton in the stash…
I don’t have a huge collection of baby patterns, which is to say that I still have more baby patterns than anyone who wasn’t planning on having any more babies in her life has any business having.
The problem with baby patterns, and kid patterns in general, is you have a pretty limited window of time in which to make use of them, before they’re outgrown.
So I find myself, since I DO have babies to sew for, making a mental list of the patterns I don’t want to miss out on. Fortunately it’s not a long list.
At a guess, it’s 1950s? The pattern pieces are unprinted, and several of the dress pieces are represented only by newsprint tracings of the original pieces (at least they’re there, though).
I don’t have a HUGE amount of experience with unprinted patterns. Actually I’m pretty sure the only other one I’ve ever actually finished was this shirt back in 2012. There are resources out there that will tell you what the mysterious punched holes mean, but I mainly relied on a general familiarity with how patterns work and referring to the instructions. Because I like to make things hard on myself.
I’ve never made rompers before, so I did find myself referring to the instructions quite a bit. They’re sparse, but I found them basically perfect, and I even largely followed them. Up to and including hand-stitching the inside of the front bibs. I considered using snaps instead of the suggested buttons on the straps (they’re out of sight inside the back portion of the pants), but I all the sew-on snaps I could find were either teeny tiny or way too big.
They are, um, a little roomy. The elastic along the back of the pants are too loose (and I made it a couple of inches shorter than directed), and unfortunately given the construction it’s pretty hard to adjust this. I did add extra buttonholes in the straps, so they’re at a shortened length now but I can switch to the full length if they get too short before the end of the summer.
I’ve got some vintage appliqués I’d like to stitch to the front of the bibs, if I get a chance. And I’ve got the dress view cut out…
Once I had the little dresses made, it become imperative that I make up some little ruffly diaper covers. While the dress was easy enough to draft without a pattern, I figured the diaper covers would benefit from starting with one, for speed if nothing else.
I don’t have a huge selection of baby sewing patterns—they really weren’t on my radar during my “collecting” phase since I was fully expecting the next babies in my life to be grandchildren. But Simplicity 8761, from 1970, had an excellent, ruffly candidate, and happens to be in the six month size range I’m looking for at the moment. And it was a diaper-style cut rather than a bloomer-style cut, which is what I wanted.
While I used the pattern piece for view 3, I went off road for pretty much everything else. The pattern called for gathered lace (to be hand-stitched down???)… I opted for bias tape, gathered with the ruffler foot on my Featherweight. The pattern called for a double layer of fabric to make finishing the curved leg edges; I trimmed away excess seam allowance and used more bias tape to make the elastic casings around the legs. Most of all, the pattern called for a diaper style opening, with snaps along the front hip seams. I liked the position of the seams but didn’t see the point in snaps, so I trimmed that section down and just made French seams.
Predictably, they’re cut for covering cloth diapers, so they’re pretty roomy on my disposable-clad girls; the next pair (because how could there not be more?) I will maybe lower the rise by about an inch.
I love the curved triple line of trim, though of course I couldn’t find my transfer paper to make it easier to mark the lines. I wound up using two strips of raw-edged bias cut 2.5cm wide, and the bottom strip cut 3cm wide. I like the subtle difference, though it was mostly because I was testing which width I wanted to use.
Also I did NOT hand-stitch the trim down as per the original pattern instruction.
The pattern called for only 12” of elastic at the waist, which works fine for River but confused me because it seemed really little (especially considering they suggest 10” at each leg). Then I realized the elastic in the original pattern only goes across the back portion of the diaper, not all the way around the waist. Oops. Fortunately scrawny little River fits it fine, and I made the elastic in the second one a little looser for Tris.
The diaper covers definitely took longer to sew than the little dresses, but I kinda think they’re even cuter. Though matching headbands may be required?