Kids Clothes Week (KCW) Day 3

Today’s KCW make for day 3 is Enid Gilchrist’s well known feeder which featured in most of her pattern books involving babies or layettes. I am sure it has been round since the late 1940s/ early 1950s…. a necessary garment!

A fairly simple design, I used quilting cotton for the body ( a little bit sturdier for the inevitable spills) and leftover Liberty lawn for the sleeves (well… why not)?? As I said in the last post, I just looove this Liberty fabric pattern… and I love red! 

Note: I first made this pattern a couple of years ago for my son in oil cloth- found it difficult to work with and challenging to clean the bias binding without laundering… stick to cotton- thats my two cents!

Enid Gilchrist's "feeder"- an enduring pattern

Enid Gilchrist’s “feeder”- an enduring pattern

The Beachcomber halter and the red Liberty dress- Day 2 of KCW

Today, I present two completed projects for Day 2 of KCW.

(1) The (completed) halter dress. A great Enid Gilchrist pattern, I would sew this again in a heart beat.

The Enid Gilchrist halter dress- perfect for beach combing- my son provided the bucket prop! He had been carrying it around the house full of toys... (as you do)

The Enid Gilchrist halter dress- perfect for beach combing- my son provided the bucket prop! He had been carrying it around the house full of toys… (as you do)

The back... you can see the elastic sewn in for stretch

The back… you can see the elastic sewn in for stretch. Easy peasy. Quick and easy to make… yes please!

(2) The Red Liberty Dress

There are several of these dresses published in different Enid Gilchrist pattern books... essentially a smock dress with a yoke.

There are several of these dresses published in different Enid Gilchrist pattern books… essentially a smock dress with a yoke. This was made for a two year old.

I hate and love this dress. Oh the pain. The pain I tell you…! I think we have all been there. The point at which we realise we have made a mistake that is going to cost an additional time… the subsequent temptation to ignore said mistake (“who will know it’s there but me, really?” “Its a busy design, no’one will see it or care” “She’ll grow so fast the dress will be worn for 5 seconds”) followed by the dim realisation… Its Liberty fabric…  I had visions of myself pulling the dress from the closet and without feeling proud of the time invested or delight at a pretty dress for my daughter would wear, all I would see is the mistake which would grow disproportionately huge before my eyes. And worst of all, the dress might be left on the hanger or worn but quickly covered with a cardigan…. (NOOOO) !

So my friends, I took out the seam ripper and faced my demons. I unpicked those pesky stitches. And what you may ask caused this agony and angst? A wonky, uneven looking bias binding on an armhole on the front of the dress. Okay, we are talking a couple of mm probably. It may sound small but I could just see my daughter wearing the dress somewhere and the look of confusion as other mothers tried to figure out why the dress didn’t look quite right…. (No, no, no)… For me, when I sew, I know I am sewing for my girl and no matter what curve balls life may throw her, she is going to know she is a princess to me. Always. And worth the extra effort.

The original Enid Gilchrist dress illustration

The original Enid Gilchrist dress illustration from “Toddler’s Wardrobe”

Variations to the original Enid Gilchrist pattern: I found the instructions for this wanting: “Most mothers will have no trouble making the play frock, so these sketches deal with the frilled frock…” (EG’s Toddlers Wardobe, “Economical Frock for daughter”). Basically the instructions skipped the version I was making altogether except to say the shoulders were bound with french seams! I omitted the pocket, lined the bodice, I added a slit down the back beneath the closure, bound with self-bias. The last thing I wanted was problems getting the dress on and off. I also used snaps as a closure. Honestly, while I thought they were the best option, I hated putting them on- found it very time consuming and they were hard to line up (anyone with me on that)?! I spent significantly more time making this than I thought I would need.

In terms of fabric, I loved this Liberty lawn and thought it fit in well with the KCW theme of Kids art- the print has a naive beauty… who wouldn’t want to draw endless, bright, colourful flowers…??? Or WEAR them?? I think this is one of my fav Liberty prints.

How are you projects going???

Enid Gilchrist's Toddler's Wardrobe pattern book cover...

Enid Gilchrist’s Toddler’s Wardrobe pattern book cover…

Kids Clothes Week (KCW)- day 1- little girls halter dress

So my first hour of sewing for KCW was primarily spent cutting and I started sewing one of the patterns I thought I would probably get around to doing later. But the pattern is ONE pattern piece and promised to be quick and easy so I couldn’t resist starting with it. I chose a retro inspired cotton I thought would have a  very Summery feel. It also reminded me a lot of the popular Scandi type prints you can find and of Marimekko’s fabric prints… My only concern was that the dress itself might be a bit short, based on the picture- I guess that as the fashion in the 1970s. I decided not to worry about it… if push came to shove I could always lengthen it with some cool lace in the future. The pattern can be found in Enid Gilchrist’s “Under 5 Fashions”.

I was going to use purchased bias binding but in the end thought self-bias was going to look prettier. A contrast blue would have worked if I had had any on hand. Hopefully I will finish this tomorrow.

Would I recommend this? Absolutely. A good quick dress to make. I might try it in Liberty tana lawn next time! Its the sort of style that really lets the fabric “lead”.

Enid Gilchrist's halter dress for a 3-4 year old

Enid Gilchrist’s halter dress for a 3-4 year old… you can see the self bias attached to the back of the ready made dress on the right. Not finished yet though…

 

The back of the halter sun dress as featured in the pattern book

The back of the halter sun dress as featured in the pattern book

For the elna SU converts out here, here is an advert from the back of Enid Gilchrist's Baby Book... from the days when my treasured elna was cutting edge and all the rage! I also like the little spell on the advert... dreaming of making kids clothes, yep, that's right...! ;)

For the elna SU converts out here, here is an advert from the back of Enid Gilchrist’s Baby Book… from the days when my treasured elna was cutting edge and all the rage! I also like the little spell on the advert… dreaming of making kids clothes, yep, that’s right…! ;)

For the elna lovers out there, here is a vintage advert on the back of one of my pattern books….

 

Kids Clothes Week- an homage to Enid Gilchrist

 

Kids Clothes Week this week... this is an image from Dick Bruna's book, "My Vest iS White"... Love his illustrations, so does my son!

Kids Clothes Week this week… this is an image from Dick Bruna’s book, “My Vest is White”… Love his illustrations, so does my son! we have a little collection of his books at our house…!

So the Kids Clothes Week challenge starts tomorrow and I have been thinking about what I wanted to make. I know I recently mentioned Enid Gilchrist, whose pattern books were extremely popular in Australia in the late 1940s through to the 1970s. I have quite  a collection of her pattern books and this does seem like a great opportunity to ensure that some of her legacy makes its away into my Little Girl’s wardrobe. Most of the garments I make in Kids Clothes Week will be her designs. Having had a browse this morning I have picked a few styles I like that I think will look cute and not too retro. Don’t get me wrong, I love retro, but not all retro fashion was awesome! Enid Gilchrist’s Baby book has the most garments that interest me so far, though there are some little tops for older kids in the some of the other pattern books I like too.

Enid Gilchrist... so many Australian women dressed their kids in her designs! The pattern books provide instructions on pattern drafting.

Enid Gilchrist… so many Australian women dressed their kids in her designs! The pattern books provide instructions on pattern drafting.

If you are looking for Enid Gilchrist’s pattern books, you can usually find them on ebay and if you are lucky at Book Fairs. Be weary of people selling her books on pdf format online from places such as etsy or ebay- if it looks like the pattern book post dates 1955, the rights for reproduction are not in the public domain and belong to the Gilchrist family. Unless a seller states they have their permission or reasonably believe the pattern book predates 1955, it is piracy. Just something to be aware of. There are quite a few floating around, so get your hands on a hard copy… the great thing is, sometimes the original owner has left their drafted patterns inside… sometimes, just sometimes… saves you bit of extra work.

Are you joint the Kids Clothes Week challenge? What are your sewing plans?

This was one of the easiest of Gilchrist's patterns- a little bib which I made in oil cloth for my son a couple of years ago...

This was one of the easiest of Gilchrist’s patterns- a little bib which I made in oil cloth for my son a couple of years ago when we went through the early self feeding, mega mess stage…!

A morning undisturbed… Sew Chic Kids Tiered Blouse

I confess, sewing felt a bit like work this morning because I turned to some of those projects sitting around that needed to be completed… My husband took my son out for the morning to Questacon here in Canberra. He had been unwell and a morning with Dad (and a big long sleep last night) was just what was in order… no toddler at my knees, I ploughed ahead with some of the things I had really been wanting to get done and finished.

One of those projects was the Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids Tiered Blouse (pattern G). I made a size 2 (the smallest size offered in the pattern book).

As fetaured in Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids by Tuttle Publishing- available in English

As fetaured in Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids by Tuttle Publishing- available in English

My version was made using a solid colour Liberty lawn (vintage) and some leftover blossom print lawn that you might recognise from some of my other projects. I liked the idea of stylng it a little more so I added some lace down the centre front. I am big into trim at the moment… I think it can really add something unique and special to a garment…

The front with the lace detail

The front with the lace detail..

The back

The back… this photo is better in terms of showing the true colours of the fabric which I think married well.

The style is loose and billowy and perfect for a hot Summers day with some shorts or jeans. It could also be worn over some swimmers.

All I had to do was finish making the bias tie… Now this one is ready for the closet!

A simple gathered skirt for a fabulous frolic in the fields… we all need one of those!

There’s a painting I once saw at MOMA in New York by Andrew Wyeth- of a woman with her back turned to the viewer in a  treeless field. It was an enticing painting, it evoked a mood and provoked thought about who she was and what she was doing there…. in my own mind, there could be no question that where she sat looked like a great place to be, (though perhaps not where her mind was at).. open space versus the confines of a house. Despite the dark colours I always thought of it as a relatively pleasant painting… dreamy… poignant… What does one wear in such a casual but dreamy moment?

A skirt in seersucker to match the seersucker blouse. The white broderie anglaise bow was purchased... but what a cute compliment to the whole outfit... wonder if I will have a tom boy after all (!)

A skirt in seersucker to match the seersucker blouse. The white broderie anglaise bow was purchased… but what a cute compliment to the whole outfit… wonder if I will have a tom boy after all (!) Elastic will be inserted and sewn in once I can measure her up…!

So here is a skirt in seersucker to match the seersucker blouse of my last post ( a bit dark… sorry… the joy of night time interior photography). Fabulous for field frolics I am sure. I have used the same pattern book (A Sunny Spot), but honestly, I wasn’t very rigid in my method as I couldn’t translate as many of the instructions! Essentially, it looked very simple anyway, a rectangle of fabric gathered into a waistband- the waistband is fed with 1.5cm elastic. Yep, simple. Uber simple. Any simpler and you’d be wearing a sarong. But as I said in my last post, a Sunny Spot is beautifully photographed… I couldn’t resist making it up and it was another fast option for the busy people out there looking for quick sewing options.

The gathered skirt from A Sunny Spot

The gathered skirt from A Sunny Spot

The primary modifications were I didn’t line the skirt (I don’t think that will be a problem since it is so gathered) and made the hem allowance huge and also did a massive seam up the back… why? When little girl grows out of it, I don’t see the point of making a brand new skirt, I’ll just create a new seam and let the hem down and thread through a larger piece of elastic… I love the seersucker so much (why does it make me think of Provinicial France)??? that I am sure it will be a favourite. And I am not so much lazy as time poor at the best of times! What I did think other “sew-istas”out there would find interesting was that this was my first attempt to do a blind hem with my elna SU. I think it actually turned out pretty well, though I was worried about the machine tension… the iron was a good friend at this point in the project. It certainly beat doing it by hand, as would have been my normal modus operandum. For anyone who is interested in trying blind hemming, or specifically blind hemming with the elna, here are a couple of images that might help you figure it out, including one from my elna SU manual. I machine stitched after pressing a double fold at the bottom. If anyone has any ideas on how to completely eliminate the show through of the hem after pressing, (without the hurdle of an underlining), do let me know… Maybe a slim strip of organza???

The front and back hem of the skirt. The lower hem shows what the under stitches look like from the inside, the hem at the top shows how it appears on the outside... pretty neat I thought, for a first effort..!

The front and back hem of the skirt. The lower hem shows what the under stitches look like from the inside, the hem at the top shows how it appears on the outside… pretty neat I thought, for a first effort..!

As seen in my elna SU manual... this image was particularly helpful... The elna SU has inbuilt blind hem stitch (so a separate cam isn't necessary).

As seen in my elna SU manual… this image was particularly helpful… The elna SU has inbuilt blind hem stitch (so a separate cam/ disc isn’t necessary).

Nothing says Summer like seersucker… Another Sunny Spot pattern

I am beginning to wonder if I might be able to make most of the patterns in A Sunny Spot pattern book. I am totally in love with about 90% of the designs which are beautifully photographed.

What's not to love? Mega sweet....!

What’s not to love? Mega sweet….! But I bet that kid isn’t going to eat all those doughnuts!

I am calling this one the “Rush Hour” blouse because I literally got most of the prep done in an hour. I am a member of a once monthly sewing circle… really an opportunity to get together with a bunch of women, chat, eat sweets and fruit, drink tea and work on whatever craft project we have going. And sometimes not much craft happens and we indulge in everything else! For last night’s sewing circle, I wanted to work on basting the bias binding so the minute I got home from picking my mother up from the airport and hubbie up from work, I was running around like a mad chicken….

I managed to finish it this morning. It can be done in an hour, uninterrupted in HASTE, but probably two at leisure. Admittedly I did skip a few things I might do.. (like making one long piece of bias binding rather than connecting them ON the garment as I worked) but I haven’t needed to repent yet (as the old saying goes)!

Liberty bias binding... I thought this made for a very fresh, Summery, girly look...!

Liberty bias binding… I thought this made for a very fresh, Summery, girly look…! Made is size 110 (about 3-4 year old size based on chest measurement).

Modifications: obviously my version is shorter, I want to team it with a matching seersucker skirt. Also, I extended two bars of bias binding down the open slit at the back for (1) aesthetics, thought it looked better; and (2) to reinforce the seam, which I had also zig zagged…

The back...

The back…

I am planning to do Kids Clothes week. I keep telling myself I have time. But my anxiety about our baby girl potentially arriving early is increasing… there is never a moment to waste! :) Guess I better start thinking about the matching skirt…!

Another Liberty lawn Summer blouse- made from A Sunny Spot Japanese Pattern book

Unfortunately the weather is awful today (being the middle of Winter) and the lighting isn’t the most wonderful for taking quality photos.

The bias tie Summer blouse

The bias tie Summer blouse

Here is a quick to make project from A Sunny Spot- I made blouse pattern F (A4 on the pattern sheets) to make up this pretty Summer top with bias ties. The modifications were the ties rather than straps and no elastic at the bottom. My reasons were, I thought it would be a great top for layering, I didn’t like the overly bouffant look in the pattern book photos and I thought ties would actually make this a top that might see a couple of seasons wear as our little girl grows. The fabric is pink Katie and Millie design in Liberty lawn (purchased from Purl Soho in New York). A Sunny Spot is quickly becoming a favourite pattern book. But I suppose it helps that it favours Liberty lawn which I am increasingly in love with because it is so wonderful to work with.

The bodice with bias ties... how I do love gathers!

The bodice with bias ties… how I do love gathers!

A pretty peasant blouse in Pink Danjo Liberty lawn

A Sunny Spot Japanese pattern book.. lovely designs for little girls if you like gathers...

A Sunny Spot Japanese pattern book.. lovely designs for little girls if you like gathers…

So I recently bought a Japanese pattern book called “A Sunny Spot” and after spending some time trying to translate the instructions using the following website’s helpful Japanese sewing dictionary, I was able to make this up fairly quickly. I made “size 90″ (about a size 1, based on chest measurement) in Liberty lawn, (pink danjo). I added the little bows as a girly design element… thought it worked with the relatively simple garment…

Little pink bows... very girly... I used light as air nylon taffeta to make the bows.

Little pink bows… very girly… I used light as air nylon taffeta.

A pretty peasant blouse, made up using pattern C12 in "A Sunny Spot"

A pretty peasant blouse, made up using pattern C12 in “A Sunny Spot”

I liked this peasant blouse pattern better than some of the others I had worked with, the front and back bodice sections do not have elastic under the bias binding, only the top of the sleeve cap has elastic allowing the neckline to retain a square shape. The pattern was simple enough that once the main pieces were identified, and some of the instructions, it was fairly easy for someone who had worked with bias binding before to understand what was required by the diagrams.

 

Note: the pink banjo Liberty lawn was purchased from PurlSoho in New York.

Looking back for inspiration… party dresses and the like

So the sew-a-thon for our little girl continues, I think I have about 6-8 dresses in various sizes that I have in train and am finalising. I sew most days and on the days when I am tired, my little boy is a sleep and I don’t feel like sewing, I think “what if the baby came early???” This is enough to motivate me to get things progressed as far as possible and to sit a while at the machine. Let there be no unfinished object for those early dresses.

A girl's smock dress from 1965... Liberty "meadow" tana lawn fabric

A girl’s smock dress, the pattern, STYLE 4560 was from 1975… made here in a size 2 in Liberty “meadow” tana lawn fabric

STYLE 4560- love the girl's smock dress pattern... decided to omit the puff sleeves and stuck with a pretty flutter...

STYLE 4560- love the girl’s smock dress pattern… decided to omit the puff sleeves and stuck with a pretty flutter…

There are a couple that remain unfinished purely because I am waiting for some custom buttons- I have just put in an order with Pat Mahoney of Pat’s Custom Buttons and Belts… you just can’t beat the beauty of a handmade, wholly custom garment… I decided that it would be a shame to stop at the buttons. After all, the dresses will be treasured long after they cease to be worn.

So where do you find your inspiration? A pattern is a pattern, but from my perspective its how the pattern is made- fabric selection, trims etc that can really make it something special. I have been drawing quite a lot of inspiration from vintage children’s books… I love this Ladybird book “The Party (from the days when kids really dressed up and played party games like “hunt the thimble”)!

 

The Party- a Ladybird book full of gorgeous illustrations, girls dresses beautifully rendered and nostalgia...

The Party- a Ladybird book full of gorgeous illustrations, girls dresses beautifully rendered and nostalgia…

photo-10

 And on the “rest of life” front our roses are due to arrive from Treloar Roses today for planting this weekend… all David Austin blooms…another little side project that I want in place before little girl gets here. I certainly won’t have time to plant or do much more than a bit of pruning in the first couple of years!