Sunday, 30 July 2017

Back to Baby Dresses - Don't Make Them Too Small!

I haven't had to make baby clothes for a couple of years now, so it's nice to have a baby to make things for again.

Unfortunately, I don't often enough heed my own advice. A few months ago, I urged readers NOT to make first size baby clothes for a baby shower. Suffice it to say, I ignored that advice. But - I repeat - don't make first size clothes for babies!!! See my earlier post .

Above is two-week old Ada - in a size 3-6 months dress!

In this post, I'll review some of the baby dresses I've made for Ada from free patterns, and show you my tips (and my mistakes).
Let's start with the dress above. It didn't start as a 3-6 month dress. It was a very cute 0-3 months dress made to match her older sister's new dress.

Aren't these lovely? The larger dress, for Jane, aged 3, was made from a free pattern for a peplum top from On the Cutting Floor, which comes in sizes 12 months to 8 years. I only used the very top of the pattern, for the neckline and armholes, as I had only a small strip of the yellow elephants fabric left. So I cut the pattern short to make a yoke, and then just made a gathered skirt from a rectangle of material. You can find out more about this dress here.

I had used most of the elephants fabric to make the gathered skirt of the baby dress.  This was made from another free patttern, the rickety rackety dress from The Stitching Scientist. in 0-3 months. This is a simple bodice pattern, which has a back opening. I have no talent for button holes, so I put poppers down the back instead of buttons. Oh, it looked so cute! I'd made it in anticipation of Ada's birth, with the idea that I could give Jane her new dress at the same time. Well, there was one plan that didn't work out. Because Jane had been 10 weeks premature, and was tiny even as she grew, I suppose I had assumed Ada would be small too. Well, she weighed 3 times her older sister's birth weight! So, sadly, the 0-3 months dress was never going to fit her.

I could have just sent it to the charity shop, but - that would mean no matching dress for Jane's dress. So I remade the baby dress as 3-6 months. I had to use a different pattem (a lot of free pdf patterns seem to come in 0-3 months only) and so for the remake, I used the pattern from Shwin and Shwin called the Summer Breeze Dress. This comes in 3-6 months, and has a similar back opening bodice. I had a little more of the same pink fabric, and I figured I could still use the same skirt. It was only the bodice of the Cutting Floor pattern that was too tight.

Here's the finished revised dress. As you can see, I used the tiny remaining scraps of elephant fabric (lined with pink) to make the straps.

For further proof that 0-3 month dresses are a real waste, look at this adorable Little Bird dress my daughter was given for her new baby. 

Yes, you guessed it, it was first size. Mummy tried it on Ada. It was pretty tight round the neck, so the baby dribbled on it. Thus ensuring it couldn't be exchanged. It seemed such a shame to not use it, so Grandma (me!) was asked if anything could be done.

And actually, the alteration was not too difficult. As it happened, the dress buttoned all the way down the back. (By the way, I think this is a pretty dumb idea for a new born baby  - you have to roll this floppy little creature onto her front to fasten it up - a really popular move.). 

There was just over an inch of hem or facing on the centre seam of the side with the buttons. So I took all the buttons off. I unpicked the seam, including the neckline and hem where they joined the seam. I had some plain blue cotton fabric from a fat quarter, which was a very close match for the collar fabric. So I used this to make a new facing for the centre seam.

Then, I resewed the neckline and the bottom hem, and put all the buttons back on. You can see from the middle picture above that this meant there was a slightly wider gap between the collar pieces at the top neckline, and in fact the centre line is now slightly off centre. But you probably didn't notice that until I pointed it out just now, did you?

Of course, it was also quite short - more of a top than a dress, Well, never mind, there was enough of the blue fat quarter left to make a matching diaper cover.

You can find out more about how these were squeezed out of a fat quarter in this post.

The dress Ada is wearing below was originally made for her older sister, and worn when Jane was about 5 months old. First, here's Jane, at five months:

Jane WAS very tiny. It's now almost too small for Ada, one week old.

Have I convinced you yet? Don't make tiny clothes for a newborn baby, they may never fit!

In my next post, I'll continue to tell you about making baby clothes, with a mix of ideas.

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