Thursday, March 31, 2016

Infant Bibs

The last item of the layet that I needed to complete before the baby is born are some bibs. These will be important to protect both the antique items as well as the clothing items I have made so far. There are a few designs available to choose from in both fashion magazines  and from housekeeping books of the period. There are also a small number of extant examples available through Google Images searches. I decided on making one fancy bib and a few serviceable bibs.

I am well aware of my limitations when it comes to sewing and embroidery. Due to this I was very excited when I came across this quilted infants bib from Quilt I love how simple it is, how the stitches are uneven and how effective the design is. It was also an achievable design. I did also decide to only use some of the design, so that I could then personalise it. The diamond in the Center was the perfect location for a 'G' monogram.

I used a bib that I was given as a template. As a first time mother I'm still struggling to understand infant sizing. I traced the bib onto cm2 grid paper. I then drew the desired shape over the traced shape. I also then sketched out a rough design idea onto the pattern. I did change the design as I went with the quilting. 

The bib pattern on 1cm square grid paper

I cut out 2 pieces in cotton and 1 in flannel. To ensure my stitching was neat I decided to draw out my design and the sew along the markings to ensure I had straight lines. I only stitched through one piece of cotton and the flannel. 

The first two layers pinned and marked for hand stitching.
The completed design.
Once the quilting was finished I then hand sewed the second piece of cotton on, trimmed the edges and the turned the fabric right side out. With the neck closure there were multiple options including loops that attach to the button or lace on the back of the dress, buttons  or hook and thread bar. I really do not want hooks near an infant, so I chose to use a button for the quilted bib. I love how this bib has turned out. 

The completed bib.
I  also beginning to realise that infants need multiple of most items. I have a number of bibs that I plan to make, but the second I decided to copy was this bib from Wisconsin History. As it will be an everyday bib I made it as simply as I could. 

As with the other bib, I used the modern bib as a grid base and then scratched over it to get the shape.

The pattern and fabric cut out and ready for sewing.
I followed the construction instructions in Cassell's '69 and Godey's January 1864. These indicate that with thicker Marseilles fabric the bib can be finished by being tatted, taped or piped and taped. As I was using a thick woven cotton (the closest substitute I could find) I chose to pipe and tape. 

Back of the bib when piped and ready for the tape to be hand stitched down.
The finished bib is not perfect, but I did learn a lot from its construction. The ties are made from a single embroidery floss that I made tassels out of.

Finished bib front
Finished bib back
When I get some time I would also like to create this bib from MFA. It has a flap that can be tucked into the gown to protect it. I have already made a pattern and will start work on it after I finish making some new winter flannels for my husband. I will probably just add my construction notes and photos here once I find the time to make it.

Update - Third Bib is now complete 14/4

Using 1cm square graph paper I sketched out this pattern to recreate the above bib.

I cut out one layer of woven cotton canvas and one of cotton calico. I sewed both layers together, leaving a gap to turn it correct side out when stitched. I then whip stitched the opening closed. Once complete I then lined the outside of the bib with tracing braid. To finish I hand stitched button holes and used antique porcelain buttons.

I love how this bib turned out. I think it is my favourite of the three. I hope to make more using this design once I have more time. I still have the wool cape to make and two petticoats to finish the layet for this time period. I then have a number of other projects to complete before my little one arrives in 6 weeks.

Challenge #3 2016: Protection

What the item is: Mid Victorian Infant Bibs
The Challenge: Protection
Fabric/Materials: Cotton, Flannelette, Woven Cotton
Pattern: Self drafted and adapted using a combination of  Cassell's Household Guide 1869 as well as extant examples available online.
Year: 1850s-1860s
Notions: Cotton Thread, Cotton Cord (piping), Cotton Embroidery Floss, Porcelain Button,
How historically accurate is it? Quilted Bib is about 80% and the Woven about 60% due to fabric
Hours to complete: Approximately 6 hours total
First worn: They will be worn when the baby arrives in May
Total cost: $0, it is all small scraps and notions from my stash

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fancy Infant Gown

Close up of completed gown front
Next on my sewing list for preparing for baby's arrival is infant gowns. After looking at all the amazing designs in the fashion magazines and extant examples available on Google, I decided to try my hand at a very over the top gown. A few years ago, a friend of my husband gave me some panels of antique embroidered voile that used to belong to his grandmother. It has been waiting for the perfect project. I also had some similar design thinner voile tape that complimented it beautifully. As I was going over the top on this gown it also needed lots of pin tucks. 

To begin with I wrote down the gown measurements and construction notes from Cassell's Guide 1869. It was interesting as the paragraph on gowns begins with a warning on the absurd lengths that gowns had been previously made. It also instructs that gowns should not exceed a yard in length, and that the yard should include the bodice. 

I began by laying out my cotton voile fabric and insertions to settle on a design. I chose to use a voile fabric as it was the closest match to the insert panels. Once I was happy with a design, I worked out the maths for the front panel lengths to cut it as a single piece before adding the pin tucks. I find that folding paper helps to get an idea of pin tuck width and separation. Once the panel had been completed by machine, I cut the panel down the center to make two sections.

Machine sewing the pin tucks
I then attached these on either side of the center embroidered panel. I hand sewed the seams into a flat fell. One frustration was that the panel had stretched/warped with age, making it a little tricky. 

The completed front skirt panel and a close up of the hand whip stitching to fell the seams
I wanted the front panel to be wider at the bottom. From extant examples I had seen the panels both gathered and cut to angle out. After laying it out, I loved the fullness of the gather more. I also repeated the process from the skirt to make the bodice, but I did shape the pin tuck panel to remove the fullness from the bodice.
Experimenting with gathering or shaping the panel
The front top was shaped to remove bulk

The rest of the construction followed the instructions in Cassell's. The back panel is a single piece of fabric cat to the same measurements as the front (1 yard by 1yard). As instructed in Cassell's, I put a slit down the center back and narrow hemmed it by hand.
Narrow hemmed slit down the back panel for the back opening
The neckline was gathered onto a a strip of bias tape. This tape also has a drawstring inside of it to adjust the neckline to the infant. The sleeve was drafted using the sketch in Cassell's and the measurements provided. I also played around with different design ideas for the sleeves. In the end I decided that less was more and to leave the sleeves as plain fabric.

Close up of neckline and sleeve design ideas
The completed sleeve
I am very happy with how the gown turned out and I cannot wait to try it on my little on in two months time. On a funny note a friend recently asked me what I will do if my baby is a boy. After I stifled my giggles I explained that all infants wore the same clothing until about 3 months of age when slight differences in trim occur and that boys did not often wear pants until after they had been toilet trained. My husband also added that I can run some gender specific ribbon through some of the lace if it makes people feel more comfortable, at a later date.
The front of the gown completed
The completed back of the gown

Close up of completed front of the infant gown

Monday, March 7, 2016

Infant Flannels

With my baby being due in the middle of winter, it was essential to make some flannel petticoats. I wish that wool flannel was available in Australia, but it is not (to my knowledge) and the postage costs are higher than the cost of the fabric to order it from overseas. So, as much as I hate to, I had to compromise and use cotton flannel (whinge over).

For the construction, I used the pattern in the 1840s Work Women's Guide as the bodice is lined in cotton.  The similar pattern in the 1869 Cassell's Guide is unlined and the edges are bound. I prefer the look and extra warmth provided by the lined version. Both styles were still in use in the 1850s and 1860s, as seen in extant examples. The pattern is very simple and goes together very easily. I did change the construction of the shoulder straps and waist tapes in inserting them into the lining, whereas the pattern instructs them to be attached to the outside. Some of the extant examples do have the straps inserted into the lining and it looked more finished. I made it in two sizes (using modern infant sizing) to hopefully fit the baby from newborn to about 6 months of age. I also plan to make a cotton calico 'flannel'/petticoat later, as even in winter it can get very hot in Australia during the day time.

Completed flannel lying open
Outside closeup of side and wrap overlay closure
Inside lining closeup of side and wrap overlay closure