Sunday, February 28, 2016

Preparing for Our New Arrival

Now that I am entering my third trimester, I am busily preparing for the arrival of my little one. I have loved looking at lots of pictures of Victorian babies and extant garments. I have decided against a full living history clothing approach for the child. I will make all the correct clothing and outerwear, but I will not be putting the baby in period correct pilches/nappies. Instead, I have decided that I will use modern re-usable nappies under the baby's clothing (very farby I know :-P).
I have already purchased an original infant dress from an antique store. I will try to make further garments at a later date, but as these are more complicated and fancy (the ones I like) its nice to not have the pressure of making the gown straight away.

Close up of Bodice of Original Infant Gown
Full Size Image of Original Infant Gown
Unfortunately, the best infant patterns by the Sewing Academy do not ship to Australia. The postage is also astronomical and costs more than the cost of the pattern if I purchased from other online sources. Thankfully, I was able to use two original pattern books available online for free.

Cassells Household Guide 4th Edition ca 1880 (the first edition dates to 1869).

There are also numerous original extant infant garments available to view online. I found that in the 1850-1860s there seems to be a combination of both the earlier and later designs of infant undergarments.This meant that I should be able to select instructions and diagrams from both books.

Infants undergarments are very simple, but also complicated in the tiny nature of the sewing. I will never complain about sewing gussets again since sewing one that is 1.5" square. I cheated a lot on the bonnet as I decided to machine sew the majority of the cap. I also found that extant examples from the 1850s were a lot simpler than the earlier bonnets in the Workwoman's Guide. I am very happy with how it turned out. I also added 3 pin tucks to match my nightcap and trimmed the brim with some vintage net lace. It is very cute and I already have plans to make some more caps in different designs. I just hope the baby will keep them on its head.
Infant Cap

The second item that I have made is an infant shirt. From my understanding, these function as a chemise for small infants. I like that they are short waist-ed, so they should not add to much extra bulk on top of the nappy. I used the measurements and design from Cassell's, but I did have to make the shirt smaller as I found the original measurements to be way to large for a newborn infant. For the sleeves I added the three pin tucks to match the cap and a trim of vintage eyelet lace from my stash. This was completely hand sewn. I found it very quick and calming to make and the narrow hemming is a lot softer than the machine hems on the bonnet.
Infant Shirt

Infant Shirt

Close Up of Sleeve and Gusset

On a side note, Nic and I found the most adorable 1850s infant plate in an antique shop. It has the alphabet around the rim and a transfer of a girl and boy playing hide and seek. We have hung it on the wall of the nursery, as it is too precious for our baby to actually use. 

I am having a fantastic time so far planning for our baby. I have also been busy working on the nursery. It is not perfect and I still need a crib and a change table (a friend has one for me that she is planning to sand and stain to match the room). I have also used my wedding veil for the bassinet. I love personal touches like that.

 Challenge #2 2016: Tucks and Pleats

What the item is: Mid Victorian Infant Shirt and Cap
The Challenge: Tucks and Pleats
Fabric/Materials: Cotton Voile
Pattern: Self drafted and adapted using a combination of The Workwoman's Guide (1840) and Cassells Household Guide (4th edition ca1880) as well as extant examples available online.
Year: 1850s-1860s
Notions: Cotton Thread, Vintage net lace, Vintage Eyelet lace
How historically accurate is it? Cap is about 60% as it is machine sewn, the Shirt about 90% as I had to adapt the measurements given.
Hours to complete: Approximately 3hours
First worn: It will be worn when the baby arrives in May
Total cost: $0, it is all small scraps from my stash.

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