Thursday, 24 May 2012

Titanic #6 A dress for a ittle girl

The fascination for vintage children's clothes is a little like the interest in vintage underwear.  While there is so much information about what the grander people in society wore less is known about what they wore underneath, much less what the children wore.  Although you can see from portraits that for much of history children wore a cut down version of what was worn by their parents, I often wonder how the little infanta could play when wearing all that stuff, very beautiful but oh so restricting.

But by the beginning of the 20th century still the clothing was nothing like as free and comfortable as it is today it was certainly more relaxed.

So this dress from the Vintage Pattern Library 1912 project was a perfect chance for me to learn a little about how children's clothes were made a hundred years ago.  I chose a soft cotton gingham with plain lawn for the contrast and, as an extra, some multicoloured polka dot from my quilting stash for the piping (I found some spotty buttons too!).

Making it to fit my Little Model I needed to reduce the chest size from 24" to 20".

So many pattern pieces! Slashed and lapped at two points on each piece to avoid the bodice becoming disproportionate.  When I made pretty much all my children's clothes quite a few years ago, I wanted to make them smart and attractive but also FAST - after all no point spending weeks making something if the child grew faster than I could sew.  This pattern is not a fast make, there are so many small details.  I decided to bind as many of the edges as possible.

The yoke with a bias trim and a second piece called a chemisette set above the main bodice up to the bias bound neck did not work out right first time around.

No matter how much I steamed and pulled and pressed it would not lie down flat. I cut it apart, remade the chemisette and this time stretched the lower seam as I sewed and things went a little smoother.  I chose not to use lace for the chemisette and under sleeve.

I closed the back with press studs and a hook at the waist sewn to a placket made with more of the bias trim

I loved making the little button and loop trim (bias strips again, folded into a mitre and fixed on with the button)  despite there being so many of them!

Of all the pieces that I had to fit together, the sleeves were the most tricky.  If I found the crown of the sleeve and matched it to the shoulder seam I was left with just too much fullness on one side of the shoulder seam and nothing on the other.  And were the underarm seams on the sleeves supposed to match the side seams on the bodice?  I  needed a balance point on the sleeve pattern to correspond with the shoulder seam and another to indicate where to match the underarms.  What I should really have done is make a muslin!

On reflection I should have done this *
  • Calculate the balance point on the crown of the sleeve as exactly half way between the small circles which denoted the limits of the sleeve head gathering. 
  • Taken a long look at the bodice and decide where to put the under arm sleeve seam (point #96) I now think it should be somewhere towards the front about 1" up the curve of the arm hole on the front yoke match point 89.
 The instructions were clear but I would suggest the following modifications**
  • Cuff Bands - the instructions are to cut 2 pieces 10" x 2" this is just too short I cut mine 11" but you would get away with 10 1/2
  • At Point 4 I would suggest the bias trim needs to be stretched and eased in to prevent little pleats forming at the neck
If anyone is redrafting the pattern I would suggest numbering a sleeve crown balance point 81 to correspond with the same numbers on the shoulder seams of the yoke and marking a new balance point about 1" up from point 89 on the curve of  armhole on the front yoke

I also felt that the upper bodice was too long, it had to be  gathered on to the lower edge of the bodice lining, together with the skirt.  But this achieved too flouncy an overhang, not like the illustration at all.  I realised (too late!) that I had not reduced the width of the skirt to match the reduction in the bodice which accounted for the extra flounciness but that still did not explain how instead of gently falling to the belt it covered the belt completely. ***I suggest that if the lower bodice is cut 1 1/2" only longer than the bodice lining it will look more like the illustration.

But the Little Model loved it and posed very cutely on a rocking horse to show it off

Then I had an idea how I might make a modern version for wearing today.  I dispensed with the bodice lining and the skirt section.  I cut two each of the front and back yoke to sandwich and cover the gathers from the lower bodice and fixed the skirt flounce with the contrast band trim directly to the lower bodice.  I made little cap sleeves from an ellipse shaped piece of fabric folded in two sandwiching the raw edges around the arm holes and between the two layers of the front yoke.

It looks so different but apart from the sleeves the only difference is the loss of one tier in the skirt (no need for a belt either).  In fact I think the original will be very wearable if I just remove that layer in it too.

And here's the science bit

VPLL Checklist
  1. Pattern Name - #0501 Girls Dress March 10, 1912
  2. Sewer’s Skill Level: Advance
  3. Pattern Rating:  3 – Good/Average, to score a 4 it needed the balance points mentioned at * above and for a 5 the lower bodice length needs sorting out
  4. What skill level would someone need to sew this pattern and why? Advance - the sleeves were tricky and the neckline only for the brave
  5. Were the instructions easy to follow? yes  but see ** above for my suggestions for some small improvements
  6. How was the fit/sizing? Did it correspond to what you thought? Yes - my model is very slim and not yet 3, but this size would be fine for an average 3-4 year old.  The big problem on fit/sizing is the excessive overhang on teh lower bodice, I suggest a modification at *** above
  7. Did you make any pattern alterations? If so, what alterations did you make? Where they fit or design alterations? - I made fit alterations as mentioned above
  8. Other notes: I was very pleased with the modern take on the pattern



only two button loop trims on the modern version


Jee said...

Both dresses are lovely - I especially like the button trim. The little model looks very stylish. I have a photo taken in 1914 of my father aged 2 wearing a velvet suit with an enormous belt and lace collar - breeches to the knee, long black socks and boots. Must have been very hot, he looks as if he might just cry any minute!

Scrapiana said...

They're lovely! Amazing how differently the two turned out. I do like the little button loops.