Friday, March 19, 2010

A Gown and Jacket

After last months mad rush to get projects done, I have been rather indolent this month. I still have things to get done but I don’t really want to work on them. I have been having sewing burn out. The two projects I’ve managed to get done this week have taken me far longer than they should. I sew a seam one day, cut out a sleeve the next. My passion has been removed to Spring Cleaning. So the sewing machine stands quiet most of the time. I did joyfully scrub the basement floor in the laundry room today with soap and gleefully rinsed it with bucketfuls of bleach water. It smells so clean now. It made me happy.

Anyway, let me introduce you to. . .Malachi’s Leftover Outfit.

This little outfit was made using up the leftover fabric from the older boys’ tunics. The little jacket is made from scraps of the green linen, and the gathered dress is made from the (great quantity of) leftover blue and white cotton.
Not that Malachi needed a new outfit. He is already well outfitted from what Judah had last year and from the things that he himself wore last year and still fit this year. But still, who can resist making a baby dress? Especially when I stop to consider that this may well be the last year I will have a baby in dresses for a while. We currently have no new babies on the way and next year Malachi will be old enough for tunics.
I sewed him up a few new undershirts over the past week or two. His undershirts from last fall were a bit tight in the arms so these new ones were made nice and roomy. They go down to below his knees in length and I think they will last him a very long time! With his undershirt and drawers (which you can’t see, due to the length of the skirt) he is wearing a strapped petticoat I made last year for Judah. It’s a little big. I need to shorten the length of the shoulder straps but that is an easy fix. The wide waistband is roomy, and there is a lot of overlap on the back buttoned opening, so it can be made even bigger if necessary. Malachi seemed to like skirts. Floofery! Frillies! Handfuls of crisp clean cloth to grab onto and wave around! He has a separate button on petticoat that goes with this strapped petticoat. I also made that last year for Judah but honestly, we ended up hardly using it. It kept wanting to come unbuttoned from the strapped petticoat and the strapped petti gives a nice amount of “pouf” even without the extra petticoat buttoned on. The dress is a basic gathered style. I love these little dresses but feel like I’m cheating somehow when I make this style, since they are just SO easy to sew up and very quick, too. The short sleeves were cut with a curved hem and then drawn up at the shoulder. You can see his undershirt sleeve peeking out from beneath but oh well, that is a period look. :P The skirt has a 75” sweep and is gathered tightly to a 1” wide waistband that is piped on both sides. Inside the waistband is faced with white cotton. The neckline is also piped. To close the dress, there is a cloth covered button at the waist and at the neck in the back. The dress really is a bit too big, all around. But I made it that way on purpose. After three children, I have learned to make things Big. When little David was a baby I made his dresses to fit him exactly as he was a the time I was making them. He only got to wear each gown a time or two before he outgrew them, but since I didn’t have any other children to clothe I enjoyed making him new dresses before each event. When Judah came along, I began to make things a little bit big, but not too much. If they got a few months worth of wear out of them I was happy. Now with Malachi, I’ve learned. It’s Got To Be Big. The clothes I am making this spring are intended to last at least until next spring, if not longer. Hopefully.The little jacket took me the longest time to make. It is a simple style and is unlined yet it took me three weeks before I finished it. Why? I don’t know. I had just enough linen left to cut a small coat. I originally made three quarter length bell sleeves to go with it. For some reason though, the sleeve head came out too small to be set nicely into the armscye. I don’t know why this happened. But it did happen. I despaired. I went through four sleeve evolutions before I came across the KayFig pattern for a toddler dress and coat, and the little coat on the pattern cover has short ruffly sleeves! I decided that it was fate, and so I put a short ruffled sleeve on the coat.The coat was meant to almost meet in front, and it does, when laid flat, but on Malachi there was more of a gap across the chest than I had intended. I might put a concealed hook and eye at chest level, to bring the edges of the coat together in the front at that point. We’ll see. Some may think me strange, but I think I will have Malachi use this for his Easter outfit. I think it will be adorable. The boys will wear their green tunics and if I get my bum in gear I want to finish my sheer dress to wear for Easter Sunday and we can all go to church a la 1860's. I originally wanted to make a 1790’s style round gown but I just lack the motivation. I don’t have all the undies I’d need (I have the linen for my shift but haven’t even cut it out yet!) and it would just be too much, all at once. Plus if I make my sheer dress I’ll have lots of use for it after Easter is over with.
So that is the news from me to you this fine and brisk Friday afternoon. How is your day faring in your neck of the woods? (though there is a shocking lack of woods hereabouts, to be sure). Clam chowder and johnny cake for supper with homemade rhubarb pie and (not homemade) :) ice cream for dessert, to be eaten with David after the boy-O’s go to bed, while watching part 2 of Gone With the Wind. Ah. . .isn’t it pleasant to have such things to look forward to? I didn’t like Rhett Butler the first few times I saw GWTW, but he is growing on me. He is a bad man, but at least he doesn’t pretend to be otherwise! I can't stand Ashley. Poor Melanie. :(



  1. Dear Sarah,
    Malachi is so cute in his outfit that I want to scoop him up and hug him!

    Thin you are wise not to try a 1790s gown right away; would take work and Easter is so close! My favorite holiday, the most joyful time of the year.

    Our neck of the woods? Much yard wirk to do and I try to sew boning channels on the transition stays daily, and the daffodils are in bloom!
    Natalie in KY

  2. Wow, I can't believe how much he's grown! Now that's a face that lights up a room! Such a lovely, lovely little young man.

  3. Hello Sarah!
    The outfit is adorable - I really love those ruffly sleeves. He is growing up isn't he? :) Sigh... What a sweetie! Looks like he's a charmer.

    Glad you got some Spring Cleaning done! Nothing like a clean-smelling basement. :)


  4. Malachi is such a doll Sarah :-) I think he will be adored on Easter! His little dress and jacket are so sweet. He and Rowan ought to meet...they both are such jolly little babes :-)

    And, I totally agree with you about Rhett and Ashley! My favorite characters in GWTW are Rhett and Melanie.

    Hope you enjoyed your time with David. Sounds like a lovely evening.

    Lots of love,

  5. Hi Sarah,
    I always admire your sewing skills.You are truly talented, your historical dresses are beautiful. Please forgive my ignorance but may I ask you why Malachi wears dresses? Was that the style of the nineteenth century? Thanks, I was curious to know.
    Keep on sewing!
    Love Irene

  6. Natalie, Easter is a close second favorite holiday for me (with Thanksgiving coming just a teeeeennnnnyy bit ahead!) :) I love this time of year! As you said, it is so joyful.

    I am so excited to see the progress on your 1790's ensemble. You have been a huge inspiration to me in this area! I do *want* to eventually make the dress I had in mind, but I want to have a firm grasp on the sewing concepts and construction of it beforehand, and all the undies made and ready before I dive into the gown.

    Robin, thank you! I think he is a beautiful little child but I am partial since I am his mummy. :) It gives me such happiness to hear that others get happiness from his smile!

    Amy, yes, a clean smelling basement is lovely. :) I really HAD to clean it though since we had a pipe leakage issue (now resolved) and the stagnant water was turning . . .nasty. The task was disagreeable in thought but so wonderful in action! And the end result perfectly satisfactory! Still need to finish up those blinds though. . .lol

    Sommer, I agree that Rowan and Malachi should meet! I think they would be thrilled! (I know Malachi would be!) They both seem to have that same cheery disposition! I also like Melanie in GWTW. She is such a role model of feminine sweetness and grace! Alas, we ended up not watching it last night since by the time the children were in bed, we were so tired we wanted to go to bed too. But we plan to watch it this afternoon if all goes well!

    Irene, yes, you are exactly right! Boys wore dresses in the 19th century (and into the 20th century too!) when they were infants and young toddlers. Between appx. ages 2-5 (or so) they began to transition out of dresses and wore more boyish styles like tunics or button suits, where the shirt buttoned into the trousers. By the time a boy was an older boy he would transition from those styles into a small version of adult male clothing. Reenacting the 1860's and having boy babies was quite an eye opener for me. I had no idea before I had boys to clothe that they wore such styles. It has been an interesting learning experience!

  7. I love Malachi's new outfit! And he looks so happy in it.

    I thought of you yesterday... my friend and I took our jewelry business to a local arts festival, and there were several families there who dressed in older-fashioned clothes (they're not Amish or Mennonite, they just like the plain, serviceable clothing!) Seeing their boys running around in homemade shirts, trousers that weren't jeans, and suspenders, reminded me of your boys :)

    I agree about Ashley, too. People tend to put all the blame on Scarlet - and she certainly isn't innocent! - but really, Ashley led her on scandalously. I always want to slap him.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!