Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pink Lacy Baby Dress

This dress was an exciting project for me! It is a reproduction of an early 20th century baby dress, in pink cotton batiste and a variety of cotton laces (both tea-dyed).

After I fell in love with Sew Beautiful Magazine, I had ordered all the back issues I could find. The instructions for this sweet baby dress are in the Easter 1996 issue (now out of print). The article is called "Grandmother's Teddies". The original baby dress was created from an Edwardian slip, part of a mother's trousseau.

The instructions were for a size 2 and I had absolutely NO experience resizing patterns/instructions, so I just had to wait until Lu was old enough I could make this for her!! The bodice is entirely made of lace. Strips of varying widths are zigzagged together to form the majority of the bodice, with a mitered section forming the square neckline.

Vertical strips are then zigzagged onto the right and left edges to form the little cap sleeves. The neckline also has a slightly gathered piece of lace edging adding a sweet ruffle. For those of you unfamiliar with sewing with "French" laces, the lace that does not have a scalloped edge, but is straight on each side is called "insertion". The lace with a scalloped edge is called "edging". (**Note: my laces are actually domestic, not French. I couldn't afford French laces! I found a great mail order catalog that had a cheaper alternative cotton lace in pretty patterns.)

The skirt portion is just 2 rectangles of fabric. The pink batiste was off the bargain table at my local Wal-Mart (which used to carry fabrics!) It was so sheer and pretty. The skirt has 3 folded tucks above a lace "fancy band". A fancy band is really just strips of lace, sometimes bordered by a lace or fabric ruffle, and sometimes just a strip of edging to finish it off.

My tucks aren't exactly evenlly spaced, which probably drove me crazy back then since I was so particular. But now, I love those uneven tucks. I think they are so sweet! And its a testament to my growing skill set.

Underneath the little lace dress is a matching pink slip. I drafted the slip using the neckline and armholes of another dress pattern, and then just a-lining the skirt piece out (measuring the length of the finished lace dress first.) The hem is just a single piece of lace edging. This is just a quick easy way to hem things! I still like to hem with lace, because its so fast and pretty. Maybe I'll do a French sewing with lace tutorial if there's interest!

The neck and armholes are finished with a machine shell-hem. I had a basic machine back then, no bells and whistles, so I used the "blind hem" stitch to cheat this. Looks so dainty! Of course, as tiny as this dress is, it wouldn't have taken long to do by hand. But I was learning how to do all of these techniques and I was always excited to see something actually work out!

I know I am repeating myself, but this is one of my very favorites. I love, love, love this little dress. The original dress in the article was passed down from generation to generation, each baby girl being photographed in the lace dress. I hope that some day I will have future babies in the family to pass on this adorable dress.


  1. So cute!! I started out looking at those rotten Sew Beautiful magazines too, but I just never have been able to sit down and learn how to do all that. Since my kids never had any cause to wear "good" clothes either, there wasn't much motivation. Yours is so pretty!! I wouldn't mind a french sewing tutorial, I just can't seem to get the hang of it.

  2. What treasures you have! I've never made a garment with heirloom sewing techniques, but did make a pillow. That is a beautiful dress. And, a big undertaking for a beginning sewer.

  3. So sweet. Thank you for letting all the beginning sew-ers know that we all start somewhere.

  4. I love this little dress!! I also love SB magazine!

  5. This little dress is beautiful.
    You did a wonderful job!

  6. How sweet! What a treasure - do you have a picture of Lu wearing it?

  7. Absolutely beautiful!

  8. WOW...
    Prayers, Bo

  9. Fantastic. My grandmother sewed and I was taught the rules. So now - not knowing what the rules are scares me instead of freeing me. Silly, no? g

  10. That's absolutely darling. I would certainly be interested in a French lace sewing tutorial, should you do one

  11. Anonymous10:35 PM

    Hey, I just went through some magazines I'm planning to give away and found issues 93 and 94 of Sew Beautiful. Do you want them? I'll be glad to give them to you. They look like they've never been used. I know I didn't!


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