Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cassell's 1869 Infant Shirt

In making a spare infant shirt I decided to try the earlier 1869 Cassell's infant shirt pattern. The measurements were a lot easier to follow than the later 1880's pattern. There are three sleeve options provided. In the shirt instructions it has a sleeveless option and then later in the book it has an option for a one piece sleeve or a gusseted sleeve. The one piece sleeves were a lot easier as they are a single strip of fabric which is folded over itself to create an inbuilt gusset. All sleeves this small are fiddly, but it is an excellent option and fairly straightforward.

The only negative that I found was in the flaps being cut on an angle. This puts the seam on the bias, encouraging the fabric to twist. It also includes the added task of buttonhole stitch bars to prevent stress tearing on the flap seams. The points on the shoulders were also a bit awkward and clumsy in comparison to the clean 90degree straight lines on the later pattern. 

In future, I plan to use the fabric measurements from the '69 pattern, the flap measurements from the '80s pattern and either sleeve pattern. All of these options are seen in extant examples online. 

It is still a very cute little shirt.

**Update - since having my daughter and having tried these on her I have changed my opinion. Amelia May was born at 3.64kgs and 50cms tall, so she is an average sized modern baby and yet these shirts were very large on her. The pointed shoulders on the shirt made it sit better on her than the straight cut sleeves of the later shirt. I assume they were sized larger for the infant to grow into and for them to have a longer usage period. While the shirts are large, they do get pulled in by the adjustability of the flannel and petticoat.


  1. Oh this is so sweet. I've been browsing through your infant clothes. How lovely they are! But can you tell me, why infant shirts of this period have these flaps? I've been wondering for a while now.

    1. Thank you for your compliment. From my experience the flap holds the shirt in place as these patterns are very large for a newborn infant. They also provided protection for the flannel and petticoat when your baby dribbles or vomits, which is very helpful in reducing your washing and ironing.