I have been searching stores for baby gowns and not loving the selection. I may be old fashioned (maybe it's because I am OLDER than other women having a new baby!) but I like for babies to look like babies and not mini adults. I also want plain soft fabrics and pretty little details.
It turns out that there are baby clothes out there that I like but they are very expensive! So I chose my favorite gown from when the big girls were babies as a guide and created my own simple pattern.
The biggest challenge to figure out was the tiny collar. I could not figure out how to get my machine to make a pretty little collar without it looking lumpy or unfinished. I finally decided to embrace the nature of knits by making these easy lettuce edge collars. I love how sweet they turned out and so EASY!
I bought 2 different knits from Joanns for this project. The solids are the sew classic knits which were 60% cotton and 40% polyester. The prints are 100% cotton knit and also from Joanns. I actually liked working with the solids better. They were softer and less stretchy. Also- when I prewashed the 100% cottons, they shrunk more than 2 inches! That made my gowns a little shorter than I originally wanted but still workable.
This is not a tutorial for true beginners. You will need to have some experience with sewing and be familiar with terms and basic concepts. I don't go into great detail since I am assuming you have made basic sewing projects before. An experienced sewer could just follow the photos!
Let's get our materials together. You will need ...
1 yard of interlock knit fabric- go for mostly cotton blend or 100% cotton. (1 yard makes 2 gowns).
a package of pearl snaps or regular snaps- the kind you hammer on!
sewing machine with zig zag foot
Ball point needle
scissors (sewing and regular)
self healing cutting mat and roatry cutter
Long ruler/ yard stick
1. Begin by printing out the pattern pieces. There are 2 pieces- the gown/ body piece and the arm piece.
Cut out your pieces. The gown width is 14" so you need to have a folded piece that is 7" wide to cut with the pattern piece. You will notice that this is wider than the paper pattern piece but you are going to extend the piece to be a total of 24" long with a long ruler (like in the photo below) or a yard stick. The pattern piece is angled to be a-lined and you will need to just follow that line to the bottom of your fabric. See the photo below.
2. Cut a second body piece to match the first. On this one, trim the neckline to match the BLUE line on your pattern piece. My photos are of my original rough draft pattern so pay attention to your nice printed pattern pieces instead! This piece is the front of your gown.
3. Next, still working with the front piece, cut a 6" slit down the center of your neckline. See photos below. This will become your placket where the snaps will go.
4. Cut a 13.5" x 1.5" strip of matching knit that goes against the stretch. This means when you give it a pull long ways it does not strech out. Fold it in half (iron if you would like) longways and pin this strip to the right side of your front gown piece along both edges of that 6" slit. The strip should be a little longer than the 6" slit. See photos below.
5. Now using the ball point needle on your sewing machine, sew the strip and the front body together to create your placket with a 1/4 seam allowance. Then trim seam down to 1/8". See photos below.
Pin the placket closed and trim off the excess so your neckline is back looking like it's original shape. The top side of the placket should fold under and the bottom should extend. Imagine a button down/ polo shirt to give you and idea of how it is configured. See photo below.
6. Pin the shoulder seams together of your front and back body pieces. Sew together with a 1/4" seam allowance and trim down to 1/8". See photo below.
7. Now cut out your 2 sleeve pieces from the paper patterns. Pay attention to the direction of the stretch. Mark the top center of your sleeves with a pin. See the photo below.
Open up your body pieces and lay them open, right sides up. Pin the sleeve to the seam you sewed in the last step. See the photo below.
8. Now you can either pin the sleeve to the body pieces or just starting in the middle, sew a little, adjust, sew a little and adjust to attach your sleeves to the body piece. Then starting in the middle again, do the other side of the sleeves. I like this method since pinning with knits is kinda a pain! But either way works fine. Now repeat on the other sleeve. Trim your seams down to 1/8". See the photos below.
9. Next is the collar. Cut a strip of knit fabric that is 12" x 1.25" - this time the length is with the stretch. Switch your machine over to zig zag stitch and while gently pulling your strip of fabric, zig zag along the edge. This should give you a cute lettuce edge. See left picture below. Now attach to wrong side of gown neckline by with pins. Switch back to straight stitch and sew the collar on with a 1/4" seam allowance. Trim seam down to 1/8". If you have extra length on the collar, just trim it off to match up with the neckline- don't worry about fraying. See photo on right below.
10. Now turn the collar over the neckline and pin again. Stitch the collar down on the right side of the gown with a 1/8" seam allowance. TIP- I don't usually back stitch here- instead, i leave longer threads and double knot them together. This elimates messy backstitching in such a visual spot if you have an older and less precise machine like I do! See photo below.
11. Now that the collar is finished, you can sew up the sides of your gown! Lay your gown sides right sides together and line up the seams at the arm pit first. Pin there first and then down the sides to the bottom. Then pin down the sleeves. I start at the bottom and sew up the side to the arm, then lift up my foot to turn and go down the sleeve. This usually means the seam at the arm folds out toward the sleeve. It doesn't matter that much since it is trimmed down to 1/8" but it's a good habit! Repeat on the other side. See photo below. Trim seams down to 1/8".
12. Turn your gown right sides out. Doesn't it look cute? Turn under your little sleeve opening about 3/8". Iron flat if you would like. Sew down with a 1/4" seam allowance. I do this from the inside and just slowly make my way around. See photo below on the left. Another option is to lettuce edge the sleeve which would be cute too.
13. Follow the directions on the snaps- you get to use a hammer! Use your ruler to lightly mark where you will install the snaps. The first should be 1/2" (or a little more if needed) from the top of the neckline, the next down 3" and the final snap 5.5" down from neckline. That first snap goes under your collar. See photo on left below. Next, make the same marks on the inside of the placket. See photo below on right. Attach snaps again according to directions on snap packet. Snaps in place!
14. The bottom can be finished in several different ways. Like I mentioned in the beginning, the 100% cotton print that I pictured for the tutorial shrunk 2 inches in the prewashing so it is only 22" instead of the 24" I would have preferred. I should have bought the full yard! Instead of losing more length by making an elastic casing, I just did another pretty lettuce edge on the bottom. See photo below.
For me, with my other babies, I found an gown with an elastic casing on the bottom to be a little more practical. I was able to do this with the pink and white solid gowns I made. Do this by folding uder your bottom hem about 1/2" and sew closed around the hem, but leave an openning of about 1". Then cut a 14" length of 1/4" elastic and attach a safety pin to the end. Insert into the 1" opening and using the safety pin work your elastic around the hem. When you have it all the way around, sew the elastic ends together with your machine and then sew the hem opening closed.
Finished! I hope you were able to follow this tutorial successfully and will have a pretty gown for the newborn in your life. I can't wait to try the gowns on our baby coming in just a few weeks (or days? hopefully not!) Although this tutorial seemed like a bear for me to write (mostly becasue sitting in front of my computer at 38 and 1/2 weeks PG is getting uncomfortable!), making the gowns is pretty easy so I hope you will try it out. Using nice soft interlock knits is key! I tried making some with thrifted "mystery" knit and it didn't work out so well. Make sure you read the label for the cotton count if you try out thrifted shirts!
As always, you are welcome to make as many of these for gifts and for yourself as you would like. Please do not make for sale or claim this tutorial as your own. Thank you! I would love to see your gowns in my gingercake tutorial flickr group!
Remember when I made this pretty golden tunic for Anne? While I was at the beach a few weeks ago, I got some pictures of her wearing it. I love the color on her and she looked so pretty with all her sun kissed freckles (you wouldn't believe the sunscreen we go though with her!)
We had a lovely time in South Carolina. Lots of time in the pool and just exploring the beach. We went into Charleston once during the week but it was the rainy day and I didn't get much time to explore. The beach was much easier for the kids to play in than the Outer Banks, NC beaches we usually go to although not quite as pretty.
While on the beach we found some treasures...
How is your summer vacation? Hard to believe it is half way over!! Although I admit the adjustment to summer vacation is hard for me at first, at this point I love having all the kids home and just relaxing into our easy schedule. The pregnancy is making me less productive but we all seem to like our slow pace!
Before we left for our last trip, I made Anne another playsuit. I loved that one last year but it was now too small! This is loosely based on this tutorial by crafterhours. The fabric I used is from Amy's shop.
Making shorts is so fun and easy! Have you all seen this series happening? Lots of cut ideas there. To make a romper you just make shorts and then add the top. Super easy and she likes it (honestly, she likes everything!).
When I made my tunic that I wrote about in the last post, I first made a quick version in thrifted fabric to make sure that it would fit and I would like how it looked on me before I cut into my nice fabric. Last week I made this top for Anne without any trial runs and quickly regretted that hasty decision!
Hopefully you are thinking- what is she talking about?? It looks fine! And it did turn out fine but I had to think of Tim Gunn telling me "make it worrrk!" since I made some silly errors at first. I used the Dearmykids pattern that I used to make this shirt about 18 months ago. I knew the size 4T wouldn't be big enough for Anne now so I enlarged the top piece and added more width to the bottom. Well it turned out HUGE! Like she wouldn't be able to wear this for about 3 years. I should have printed out the correct pattern size and gone from there but I didn't want to bother with having to get new ink for my printer! The pattern is awesome but it prints on like 20 sheets of paper.
This beautiful AMH voile does not like to be seam ripped. Especially after you happily serged all the seams so proudly thinking you are making the cutest tunic for your daughter ever. After I put it aside for a few days and felt bad about ruining this expensive fabric, I had the idea to add ruching to the arm pits. Yeah!! This was a great- although not perfect, solution since the top parts still gapes open on her a bit.
In the picture of the back above, you can see the ruching a bit better. It looks nice her and hopefully I'll post a picture of her in it later this spring/ summer. Lessons learned: don't just wing it on expensive fabric AND if you ignore that first lesson, set it aside until you come up with a solution to fix up your errors of overconfidence! Maybe someday you will make a shirt way to big for your child and remember this trick and it will be a help! Do you have a fix it trick that has helped you out of a similar mistake? I need all the help I can get :)
I made this dress on Saturday morning. It was FREEZING here! I actually wore long underwear that afternoon to the girls soccer games and I was still cold! So this summery dress seemed a bit out of place, but yesterday afternoon it warmed up enough to take a few good outside pictures.
I basically followed the warhol dress pattern from MADE. Super dooper easy and a great way to build your confidence with knits. Just use your iron, ball point needle and beginners can easily accomplish this.
I bought this fabric to make a skirt for myself. It's from Joann's- in the back of the store red tag section. Not much of a deal at about $9 a yard but it was the nicest knit I could find there. The skirt for me may still happen but it will have to be a lot shorter now!
I knew my almost 8 year old would like the tie at the shoulder and it is a clever and easy way to finish the dress. I think maybe I made it a bit too long- any thoughts about that? She doesn't seem to mind and seems happy. She did not like this fabric at all untilI I made it into a dress and then suddenly she decided it was pretty and she could wear it. Sometimes we have to take risks to sew for our kids, right??
She had no serious modeling bones in her body for this photoshoot and that is why her face is cropped in the above pictures. Here is one where you can see how she really was acting as her sister danced around like crazy behind me.
A great FREE pattern to try if you want to attempt a cute summery knit dress!
My Father in Law gave my husband a bag full of XL undershirts. He said "just toss them if you don't need them!" I wanted to pass them on to the goodwill but my husband wanted to keep them "just in case". Hmmm. A year later the bag was still untouched and I finally looked at them- nice quality lands end white undershirts surely could have some use, right? I washed them and bleached them and finally dyed them tangerine orange and sunshine yellow. Now, THAT was something I could use.
Super soft peachy tee shirt material makes a pretty cute nightgown. I used the existing hems for the sleeves and bottom hem and since I haven't tried to make necklines with knits (yet!), I made an easy peasant dress collar. Finally, I cut out a heart for some other scrap knit and zig zag stiched it on to give some extra cuteness. I used my serger (thanks again Mom!) for the sewing up the sides. This was a fast project! Certainly under an hour.
We took these pictures this morning at about 7:30 AM. Isn't the light pretty? She slept in the nightgown last night and loved it. Here is one last shot for you of the nightgown in jumping on the bed action. My daughter wanted to make sure I included this one. This is how all our photo shoots end these day with requests for "action shots".
More about how to take jumping pictures here. Not the most exciting sewing project ever but I liked using some of the hand me down undershirts (and I have plenty more of this "fabric" now too!) and it was fun to experiment with using RIT and all that. Have you been making clothes for your kids this week? I am finding myself wanting to sew other things but I am trying to stay on task!
We'll see if I make it through the whole week but I did start off on the right foot! I started Sunday since it was rainy and cold here and the kids wanted to watch Harry Potter again. I couldn't pass up 2 unexpected hours to myslef- right? When making this, I was inspired by this dress and this dress. I love how you can make gingham and plaid prints play around when on the bias.
I decided to build on an existing pattern that I had. A simple peasant dress from ManiMina. It turned out to be pretty blousy for Anne- 2 of her could have fit in the size 5! So I did ruching around the waist (with 1/4" elastic) which made all the difference and was such an easy fix.
In order to use the fun diagonal pattern that is created by putting the gingham on the bias, I made bias tape binding for the sleeves and neckline. I also made ties at the sleeves for an extra detail and the pockets on the bias too. I used the extra neck bias tape as a loop for an oversized button in the back.
She put some leggings on after out pictures and I liked the outfit even better! Looking forward to seeing her wear this all summer. Are you doing Kids Clothing Week Challenge?
Anne has grown out of all her dresses. Growing like a little freckled weed! Yesterday I made her one to celebrate day light savings time! She loves it except all the trying on she had to do. "I have to put it on AGAIN??"
Last night when instead of making dinner I made this skirt for Anne. Yes, they got dinner- just kinda late! The lovely Kelle Boyd of AnnKelle sent me this pretty corduroy 1/2 yard back when I did the handmade holidays series with her. I realized that it is February and I needed to use the fabric before spring!
I used this website makeagif to make this GIF. Sorry if it is making you kinda ill to look at it but I thought it was fun and super duper easy if you want to try. The kids are crazy for it!
The pocket on Anne's skirt is a thrifted doily that I got for $.25. I sewed it on and left the top unsewn. It gaped naturally so I folded it down and tied a ribbon bow to finish it off. Cute I think.
This skirt is made the super simple way- take a 1/2 yard of fabric and make a tube. Hem the bottom, cut to the length you want on your girl plus 2" for the elastic casing. Make the casing and add elastic. Voila!
Thank you Kelle for such cute fabric!