Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Undies for Malachi

Batteries did the trick. Our camera works again.

It was with great terror, at first, I realized over the weekend that I have only four weeks left until our next Civil War event. This might seem like quite a bit of time but I have so much left to sew for all of us that I felt overwhelmed. It is my own fault. If I had sewn a little bit each week over the summer I would not have this problem now, would I? So I have waited until almost the last minute to get to work on our things. Since there are four weeks I divided my time up weekly. Week 1 - Malachi's items. Week 2 - David and Judah's items. Week 3 - Husbands items. Week 4 - My own items.

This week I am working on Malachi's fall wardrobe. I am pretty well on track with what I've planned. By tonight I wanted all of his undergarments finished and they are, except for buttons/buttonholes which I can do this evening after supper. Tomorrow I can make his gowns - 2 long sleeve cotton ones - and Friday I can make his pinafores and a little wool coat. He can use Judah's hood from last year and I will make a few more caps for him over the weekend and his things should all be done on schedule.

I could technically have shortened the rest of his strapped petticoats and gowns from earlier this spring but I am disillusioned with the cotton muslin I used for them. It just does not hold up like I want it to. I've used muslin in the past because it is very inexpensive but is it really worth it when I have to make new undergarments each season?

A few days ago we went to the thrift shop and I was thrilled to find a king size white cotton sheet, 350 thread count, for $2. There was plenty of fabric there for all of Malachi's undergarments and then some. I was further thrilled to discover at the register that all linens were on sale so the sheet ended up being only $1. So all of Malachi's undergarments cost less than $1 to make. You can't beat that! And the fabric is wonderful. I think it will wear very well and last me through many more babies.

I made his things in a larger size, about a size 18 months. Currently he fits well into 12 month clothing but I want these to last him through next season. By the season after that he will be two years old and into tunics anyway. The waist on these things still fall at his natural waist though. My pet peeve in reenacting is seeing children wear clothing with the waists hanging around their hips. I know it is very practical to buy or make your children larger sized items so they can get more wear out of them but I like the waists where they should be. It looks so much neater. Let the sleeves be long, let the skirts be long - but keep the natural waist, please! :) Extra bodice length can be hidden in waist seams and I plan on lengthening the stays with longer straps if needed.

First are the shirt and drawers. He has two apiece. I would have really liked to have had three of each but I didn't have the time to make an extra of each one. He is not a messy baby anyway and I think one shirt and set of drawers should last him fine throughout each day of the weekend. The shirt is copied in style from one from the Wisconsin Historical Society. Mrs. G. posted about her baby chemises on the Sewing Academy recently and the shirt I was inspired by was one she also took inspiration from. They are very simple. There is a front and back, indentical, and they are sewn together at the side seams. The top is left open and I bound Malachi's shirts with bias binding. The original had lace around the top but I am not sure if I want to add that or not since I'm afraid that would be irritating to Malachi's skin. Later, (this evening) I will add a button and buttonhole at each shoulder to close the shirts. The drawers are full cut and have three 1/4" tucks at the hem. Another 1" of fabric can potentially be let down from the top casing. (I use elastic in the tops of my baby drawers).
Next are the stays and the petticoat. Malachi has just one soft stay but I did make him two petticoats. The stays are corded with cotton crochet thread and they are not tight fitting. This is the first time I've made baby stays and I really like how easy they were to make and how they will hold up the petticoats. Honestly, making a petti-chemise is easier and faster but I wanted to try out the other options since I don't know when we'll have another baby to make clothes for! The petticoats are very full and have three 1" tucks so they can be let down quite a bit. They will close with ties and then will button to the bottom of the corded stays.
Here is a close up picture of the corded stays. The outer layer is a soft striped white cotton I had in my stash (the stripes are woven in) and they are lined with the plain white cotton sheet I used for the rest of Malachi's underwear. There are side seams but the rest of the stays are bound with bias binding and the back opening is self-faced and will have a buttoned overlap. I'd like to add some embroidery to them eventually. If I have time tonight after the buttonhole marathon I might add a tiny bit to the side fronts. In between sewing bursts I did get Judah's cap finished. It came out a bit differently than I wanted it to but I had to make an emergent shaping detour while shaping the back seam since I was running out of yarn! I tried it on him while he was sleeping last night and it fits well, although it is a bit large. It should fit him for a while. I now have technically no yarn in the house and I feel a bit freakish because of that. I need to get some more! I want to make Malachi some leg warmers and I want to knit little David a hat as well.
This post is quite long enough, don't you think? :) I should be working on marking those buttonholes! Have a lovely afternoon!




  1. Wow...four weeks isn't a lot when you are a mom to 3 busy boys, a wife and homemaker. You have had an incredibly beyond busy summer, so don't feel bad about not getting enough sewing in...I don't know how you do all that you do!

    Doesn't it feel great to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear? Wow...a $2 sheet is now a work of art! Can't wait to see your little one all dressed up!

  2. I was hoping someone had posted something inspiring tonight and my wish was granted! Beautiful, beautiful, *beautiful* undergarments. They look so adorable and authentic. I've never made stays, I should but haven't so far. I love the knitted cap, I'm so jealous of your knitting ability! I can spin but can't knit very well at all. :-/ I can't wait to see the rest of your creations, thanks for the inspiration!


  3. You are so inspiring and talented.
    God bless,

  4. Those are so lovely. And that hat is adorable! I love visiting your blog, it's a bright point in my day.

  5. You have such a lovely, inspiring blog. I was also going to write that I don't know how you accomplish so much with three little boys to care for. Your sewing is exquisite.

  6. Wow! I'm impressed by your progress so far. You get more sewing done in a week than I do in a year! :) I can't wait until I have a house where I can leave my sewing machine set up all the time.

    Great deal on the fabric too! I have found a few good sheets at our local discount store as well but lately there hasn't been anything that is 100% cotton - all polyesters or blends. Blech!

    I look forward to seeing the rest of your work!

  7. Malachi's underpinnings are lovely, Sarah. I too should have been working on Civil War items steadily throughout the summer, and haven't been. I only have about 3 weeks until our next event. Judah's hat is adorable, too. I am sure he will love it!

  8. Greetings Sarah!

    Thank you for your continued posts of your projects! You are truly an inspiration. I so enjoy all the pictures.
    Question... Why were stays made for infants during the CW era? What were their purpose?


  9. Oh yes, it's great to come across nice, inexpensive materials when making stuff. . .the sheet was even much cheaper than muslin. . .I'll need to keep an eye out at that thrift store from now on for more cotton sheets. :)

    Mrs. G., thank you! You are such an inspiration to me, especially with your recent posts about your sweet baby clothing. It really helped me get back into the mood for sewing these kinds of garments again! BTW I just received your note with the patterns for the chemise and cap today - thank you so much!! I can't wait to make Malachi some caps once I get these gowns and pinafores out of the way and I also am looking forward to trying out the chemise pattern as well.

    Tracy, I think the reason stays were used was to provide a bit of soft support and to also provide a place from which to attach petticoats and such. With a pettichemise the skirts are just sewn onto the bottom of the shirt portion but when the shirt is serepate, the stays provide an "anchoring place" to keep the petticoats from slipping down the baby's hips. I think. :) That's what I've gathered from reading, anyway.

  10. Oh so lovely! I can't wait to see your other finished pieces! :)

    Thank you so much for your kind comment today on my blog. I am so thankful and feel so blessed to know so many ladies who feel the same way I do! I also posted a post about letter pen friends. I would love to hear from you if you are interested. I adore writing letters and am looking for more kindred spirits to write to. You can email me at: if you are interested and we can exchange addresses. :) If not, that's ok too. :)

    Have a glorious day dear friend!

  11. Those are just gorgeous! The stays remind me of late 18th century stays. I love it. I'm so glad your camera is back in working order. God Bless you my friend :-)


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!