View Full Version : Not the most authentic, but making do

09-13-2007, 02:03 PM
Bought a cheap-o pattern for a little girls day dress, and undergarments. Started working on undergarments. This is the first "draft" if you will. Any suggestions on how to make them more authentic? Or just any ideas in general? I have my little girls twin sister to make another set for. I have the pantalettes done but not the top yet. I know that these pieces look huge on her. I made them that way on purpose. She's 2 1/2 but she won't be wearing them until next fall so I made them a size 4 so that I wouldn't have to re-make them next year. She LOVES to run around the house in the pants. The minute the girls saw them they both said "ooooh pwitty mommy".


As for the dresses I'm not going to be making them exactly as noted on the pattern, I'm re-designing the outside and the sleeves as well as the decoration but keeping the same basic shape of the dress.

09-13-2007, 03:02 PM
which pattern are you using for the dress?

as for the drawers and chemise--skip the ribbon and lace. since i cant see what type of lace it is, if its the stuff you get from walmart, then most likely its polyester, which is not period correct. same with the ribbon (ill be honest with you... my chemise and drawers are almost like that, didnt know better... but im making new also).

my girls prefer their chemise to be long, i like it that way too.

09-13-2007, 03:32 PM
First thing to keep in mind: you're not using a historic pattern, so you're not going to get things that really look like the originals.

There are things you can do to extend the wearing time--tucks are one. There's always a certain amount of remaking needed to resize as time goes by, and tucks are easy to install, and easy to remove.

Use tucks to shorten the drawers to between just below the knee, and mid-calf. The width is a bit much, but not so bad as to need recutting. Elastic is a totally modern thing, but does give a bit more personal autonomy for this age group, which can be good. Go ahead and remove the pink ribbon from the legs, leaving the beading eyelet if you like. To keep the girls' clothes separate, use a tab of ribbon in the back waist of each, one color for one girl.

The "chemise" isn't a historic cut, but the length is fine, or it could be cut longer without a problem. One issue you'll run into is bulk--because the neckline is simply gathered up on the ribbon, it's a LOT bulkier than if you made a semi-fitted neckline band, and gathered the chemise to the band. You'll still have a slight adjustability, but you won't have the extreme bulk the pattern's modern construction method gives. Under most dresses, this bulk is going to be very visible and "scrunchy" to the child.

Each girl will need at *least* two full-cut petticoats, hemmed to mid-calf, same as their dresses. They won't need a new set of pettis for each day, just one set, nicely starched, for several days running.

If it's the pattern I think it is, use the dress pattern carefully--it's cut VERY short in the body for mid-century. The waist should reach their actual waist--not far above the navel. Any use of elastic in the dress bodice is modern Halloween costume, not suited for living history use. The dress bodice should fit smoothly, not baggy; don't make it more than about 2" bigger than her actual body measurements. The skirts need to be about 70" around, minimum... for toddler sizes, that width can be anywhere from about 70" to close to 90"--it's full gathering, same as with petticoats. It will work best if you do hand gathering, as machined work will get too bulky.

You have a beautiful bitty girl!

09-13-2007, 03:48 PM

That's the pattern I picked up.

I agree about the neckline (of course it is a size four at this point so I had to really cinch it in to get it to not slip off of her.

I like the suggestion about making them longer (I was contemplating cutting it longer because it seems like it would work well that way.

Should I make the next set with sleeves or without? The one with the more fitted neck?

The lace that is on the top and bottoms including the beading is cotton eyelet. And the ribbon is satin.

One question on the eyelet on the ankles (the pants are way too baggy for my taste, I was thinking of cutting them a bit smaller) could I replace the pink ribbon with white? Or should I just eliminate the eyelet beading all together around the ankles?

Also... are hoops neccessary at this age? And should the dress be one or two pieces?

Oh... and thank you for the compliment on my little girl. Her sister looks almost exactly like her and I think they are wonderful and sweet. I can't wait to play momma duck and have them tromping along behind me in their little dresses.

09-13-2007, 04:25 PM
Elizabeth is just so modest...

Get thee to her website. (http://www.elizabethstewartclark.com/main.htm)

Purchase her patterns. I would recommend the set of underpinnings, and the set of girls dresses. They come on wonderfully heavy paper, have an entire booklet of instructions and hints on extending the dress for several years, are very easy to assemble, and are just beautiful. Here's mine, in her dress (if I can get this to work).

Pam Kingsley-Bryda

09-13-2007, 07:11 PM
Oh, I love that dress Pam! So pretty :)

As for the undergarments, Mrs. Clark also has some free patterns on her main website ( http://www.elizabethstewartclark.com/GAMC/FP/index.htm )

Though they are women's patterns, I think they can be scaled down pretty easily.

Her dress patterns are so easy and very pretty! I've made two with the yoked bodice. One can be viewed here: http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t36/HomespunPictures/City%20Point/cp1.jpg

Also, you might want to check out Mrs. Clark's forum: www.thesewingacademy.org

Good luck!

09-13-2007, 07:35 PM
Yup, that's the same one we used. One package is making up dresses for both a four year old and a twelve year old. How's that for economical? :)

09-13-2007, 08:26 PM
Ah.. twins :D If you do decide to go ahead with the Mccalls, be sure the skirt pieces are rectangles, not "A" shaped, or it won't have the fullness you want. It is a cute pattern, but you will find that Elizabeth's will be easier to construct and you will be happier with the finished dress, if you are looking for accurate.

Also, her free patterns for ladies drawers are wonderful!!!! The fit because they are made to your measurements.


edit: you will also want the petticoats gathered to the waistband to help with poof

09-13-2007, 09:35 PM
I've made enough skirts for myself that I'd do theirs as a scaled down version of mine.
I am loving the yoked dress. And I totally love the colors that you chose Belle. Beautiful!

09-14-2007, 05:00 AM
skip the hoops... especially at that age. my 11 yo still doesnt have any hoops. i think we may start training hoops next yr (she does have a corded petticoat), but depends on how active she is going to be. 5yo is not going to see hoops for a long long time!

that dress screams costume to me. i also have elizabeths pattern for girls and use it for both my 5yo and 11yo. after making my 11yo a dress, i found an actual one on ebay that looked exactly like it... that makes you feel good, and you know that its a good pattern. there are so many options in it that you can make several dresses and not repeat! also on that dress... those sleeves would completely drive my girls crazy as they would get in the way. for everyday wear go with something simple(ie... lizs pattern!) and it will also last longer as it will hold up to their normal and active playing.

girls get dresses that button in the back also. adults dresses button in the front.

09-14-2007, 08:27 AM
(I'm glad you all have had good use of the girl's patterns! :) It's always fun to see what individual families do with them. I figured out one time that a mom can sew over 60 different dresses in any size before duplicating the combinations. Ha! My math teacher was right! I DO use equations in daily life! LOL)

If you purchased the eyelet in a regular chain fabric store, chances are it is not 100% cotton; it's not a big deal for the first go-round, since it's already in place, but the poly content in chain store "eyelet" can be a fire hazard. Most of it is done with fuzzy nylon on the back, and rayon or poly for the top threads, and the nylon/poly melts with exposure to heat... not something you want dripping down her shins. Satin is a weave, rather than a textile fiber--again, if it's purchased in a chain store, it's not going to be silk satin, but a man-made fiber.

I'd skip trim on girl's drawers entirely, for the most part. A simple turned hem, and several tucks above the hem are useful for decoration and for growth-friendly time spans. Plain hems and tucks are also very, very common on girl's drawers mid-century.

The McCalls pattern gets to the Halloween Costume stage, but doesn't go beyond it into historic shapes, techniques, or styles.

Girl's dresses are most often one-piece, with skirts attached directly to the waist in gathers or pleats, and buttoning or hooking in the back. While longer, open sleeves are used in some children's dresses, most often they are used on fine silk dresses (and how many of us dress our little girls in silks at field events? :) ) Another challenge is that when white collars are used on girl's dresses, they are separate, baste-in collars, not sewn directly and permanently to the dress itself. The collar on the McCall's Halloween costume pattern is also far too wide for mid-century styles. The net-enhanced slip will not function as a mid-century petticoat. Your best bet there is tossing the pattern and making mini-duplicates of regular mid-century petticoats, sized comfortably in a fitted band for her waist now, with growth tucks to shorten it to mid/upper calf. As she grows, you can replace the waistband easily, let out a tuck at a time, and keep going with the same base set of petticoats.

Hoops are seen on children as young as two (in original photographs and engravings), but they do not seem to have been regularly (daily) used by working class children; plain petticoats, two of them, will serve better for those in the somersault stages.

Hope that helps a bit! You'll find some free patterns for pinafores for girls in the Free Patterns section of the Compendium on my site, which you're welcome to use for the girls. If you make multiple sets of chemise/drawers, and multiple pinafores, it's normal to do a 3-day event with just one dress. The undies and pinafores take up a lot of abuse and grime. :) Don't forget sunbonnets for the girls! Our whole family is made up of pasty white people, and we do sunbonnets AND sunblock, every time. (My son uses a billed cap and sunblock.) The sunbonnet should be made of very light, nearly sheer fabric, with a deep brim and long curtain or bavolet. If you want a pre-drawn pattern, look at http://www.bonnets.com --Lynette Miller has nice millinery patterns. If you want something fast and VERY simplified, there's a free draw-able pattern in the Pioneer Pack section at http://www.mormontrek.net .