Tag Archives: Sewing for Twins

Further diversions

I’ve been fantasizing off and on about making the twins wee little Regency style dresses. I kept talking myself out of it, but the idea kept popping back up to the surface like an old beach ball that just won’t quite sink.

I do have some white fabric in mind possibly, but my mother recently destashed a piece of somewhat vintage cotton with a lovely woven check and (don’t laugh) tiny old-fashioned selvedges. With selvedges like those, it just had to become something quasi-historical, and these aren’t the kind of colours I would wear myself. So.

Although my fantasies kept taking me over to this pattern from Virgil’s Fine Goods, in the end I went ahead and drafted my own, based on the Danish example linked in this post from the Oregon Regency Society. Partly because I was impatient but mainly I’m also cheap. Although I would love the period instructions for hand-sewing that would come with the Virgil’s pattern, which would I’m sure explain that everything I did here is wrong. But I knew I didn’t have time or inclination to fully hand-sew these dresses.

Gorgeous neckline. Less gorgeous waistline.

Anyway, I followed the pattern for the above dress pretty roughly, with several modifications due to the small scale and rapid growth rate of small children. I added gathering via drawstrings to both the front neck and the “waist” of the dress, for maximum adjustability.

Due to fabric limitations, I made the skirts from a single width of the vintage cotton, which in the end didn’t leave much extra gathering at the back, unfortunately. I really wish I’d had enough fabric to do at least two full-width panels for the skirts.

In theory, as the twins grow the drawstrings are loosened and the dresses keep fitting for a lot longer. If I’d had more fabric I would’ve added more length and put in some tucks for growth, too, but as it is they’re already ankle skimming on Tris. Which, I’m not really sure what the correct length for Regency children’s dresses should be—I’ve seen paintings with the dresses very long and others fairly short. Given the nature of children’s growth, I suppose some variation is inevitable anyway. I could also make drawers for underneath as they get taller.

I also made the sleeves puffy, again to accommodate future growth.

My “plan” was to have one version be as historically accurate as I can handle (meaning machine-sewn seams but everything else done by hand, and the other a quick ‘n dirty version with serged seam finish. In the end this actually doesn’t make much of a difference since the bodice seams are the least of the hand-sewing that was involved. But I did hand-overcast them in the second dress.

The most unexpectedly labor-intensive part was rolling the casing for the top drawstring. I knew I wanted to use the 1/4” stay tape for my drawstring, but I wanted to keep the casing as narrow as possible, and if I didn’t want visible machine stitching on the outside I definitely had to roll it by hand. It turned out that this was doable, but required sewing the casing with the tape already in place, and due to the narrowness, I had to check at EACH stitch that I hadn’t caught the tape with my needle. This took forever. And ever. That being said, I’m very pleased with the look it created.

First dress on the right with bulky waist gathering. Second dress on the left, less bulk but very high on the bodice.

I was a lot less pleased with the casing for the waist seam of the first dress, which I machine-stitched to the seam allowance since it didn’t show. I’m not sure if it was just that my casing fabric was a bit stiff, or if it was too many layers of machine stitching, but the whole seam is stiff and doesn’t gather nicely. I can’t imagine it’s too comfortable against the skin, either, but the twins are fairly stoic about their clothes for the most part, thankfully, and haven’t seemed bothered. For the second dress I used a lighter fabric for the casing, with one edge stitched to the seam allowance and the other to the bodice. This is a bit nicer feeling but does shift the gathering a little higher on the bodice—only by the 5/8” width of the casing, but when your bodice is less than 3” long that’s a fairly big shift.

The dress opens in the back and I cut the edges of the back bodice on the selvedge, and of course the skirt is the full width of the fabric again so the entire back seam was selvedge as well—yay to no finishing required, and an opportunity to show off that lovely vintage selvedge, although I have no idea if it’s actually accurate for a Regency time period. This is an easy closure for a kids’ style, but it does tend to leave a bit of a gap at the back, so I should probably make them some kind of little shifts to go underneath. Feel free to place bets on whether that actually happens.

My biggest departure from historical accuracy (other than the machine sewn seams) would probably be that I decided to put elastic in the hems of the sleeves. I considered both gathering to a band (harder to adjust) and adding drawstrings again, but I also wanted these dresses to be comfy to wear for toddlers accustomed to modern clothing, so I went with elastic. It doesn’t show and doesn’t look particularly different than a drawstring would, I think.

After all this work to make the dresses adjustable, I wound up having not quite as much fabric for the skirt length as I had hoped. While they’re long enough now, I had hoped to have a few extra inches of length to put tucks in that could be let out later. I also would’ve liked to have more fullness for the back of the skirt. But, such is life, and I think I made pretty good use of the two yards of fabric.

While they’re not as long or as full or as “historically accurate” as I might have hoped, I think they still turned out pretty cute. And Tris has actually requested to wear one instead of regular clothes at least once, so I’ll call that a major win!

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Pre-Christmas presents

A few weeks ago my husband started cooking with the twins, and since then he’s been badgering by me to make little aprons and chef’s hats for them.

Since I ended up with a free Saturday afternoon when the older girls took the twins to spend time with their Auntie, I figured I could whip up a couple of chef’s hats and aprons for Christmas presents. Some digging in the stash unearthed the rest of the white poly-cotton twill I used to make the twins these pants, so I got to work.

Of course, since the twins were gone I didn’t have them around to take measurements. I did Google around and found a diagram for a kids’ apron (size 4-7) and basically took an inch off everywhere.

They are pretty basic aprons, but the size turned out PERFECT for my rather runty two year olds, and they’re just what I wanted. My husband would’ve preferred a loop around the neck to the ties, but I wanted them to be adjustable and also a loop big enough to go over baby heads would put the bib quite low on their chests.

The angles edges are finished with double-fold binding (made of the same fabric, so they’re a bit bulky… twill tape would’ve been a nice alternative in hindsight). The top has a teeny facing, which I stitched on the right side, which fortuitously turned out almost the same width as the waist band/ties and the bottom hem. The other edges I just turned under twice and hemmed. For the waist ties, I knew I wanted them wider but less bulky, so I serged the edges and just turned them under once and topstitched down. Then I topstitched them onto the front of the apron. I like it.

The hats were even more slapdash. I did Google “size 2 hat” to get a circumference for the band, but other than that I just kinda made it up. The circles are about 30” each since I cut 2 from a 60” wide fabric.

They’re pretty extra, but I was pretty sure that ridiculously oversized would still be ridiculously cute, and I was not wrong, if I do say so myself.

Ready to start their own cooking show.

For the bands (stands? Brims?) I was going through my box of interfacings when I found the remains of a package of thin bag-making foam, and I think it was perfect: soft, cushy, and unlikely to be damaged by two-year-olds mashing it around.

I decided I wanted them a little taller at the front than back, for a slouchy chef look, but not too high. I topstitched the foam to the inner part of the band fabric. I purposely made the foam a little short, and put a short elastic across the gap, so there’s some stretch at the back. I like how this turned out, but I wish I had made the bands just a little bigger. However, I suppose when they’re outgrown I could open up the back seam and add a little panel there, and just adjust the back couple of pleats to fit.

As it is, though, they’re wonderfully, ridiculously, over-the-top adorable. Despite my best intentions, we did not wait until Christmas to give them to the twins. They did get used for making some (not terribly successful) Christmas cookies and any number of other meals, however.

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