Emerson is quickly growing out of the closet full of vintage baby dresses I collected before her birth, and which were saved from my own childhood. I haven't been able to bring myself to pack them away yet. I've been searching op-shops, eBay and even antique stores for vintage dresses in toddler sizes to replace them, generally to no avail. Baby clothes get outgrown before they are worn out. While for toddler clothes the reverse is true, making them scarcer.
Tuesday, when Emerson woke up from her nap, I impulsively decided to sew her a dress. It's been a long time since I did any sewing, and I have never stitched a toddler dress before, but I was undeterred. There is no arguing with these impulsive rushes of inspiration, I tell you. We hunted through my stash of fabric and vintage patterns and found a sweet Japanese nautical print fabric (that I think I won in a giveaway, a long time ago) and a size two vintage dress pattern that had been gifted to me. Upon laying out the pattern pieces I realised there wouldn't be enough of the print for the bodice, but found some left over thrifted gingham instead. The red zip and embroidery thread were also thrifted finds residing in my stash. Sum total of the finished dress was probably $2.
I cut, pinned and stitched between scooting up and down the street with the children, helping with baths and making dinner. I continued once the rest of the house was sleeping, determined to finish what I had started. And I did, at eleven at night. Oh, the thrill of a finished sewing project! The fun of adding a little cross stitch to match the sail boats in the fabric! (Something I have not attempted since my mother taught me how to cross stitch placemats one Summer holiday as a child.) The satisfaction of trying it on my little darling and knowing it should fit perfectly by Spring!
I'm so pleased with how it turned out. The only thing I will change is to add a bit of elastic around the hem of the sleeve, to give that vintage puffy sleeve look that only children can get away with (view 1 on the pattern packet.) I love this pattern. Despite having a zip, gathering, bias neckline and gathered sleeves, I found it quite simple. I didn't realise how much I had picked up during all those years watching my Mother sew. There were things I knew how to do, without knowing how I knew.
I already have the next dress cut out.