Sometimes I don’t know what a project will be when I start. Some days I start with a pattern in mind, a project I want to do with specific goals (like pants, ahem), or a fabric from my stash. But some days it’s more about a feeling. On those days I take a few measurements, take out a pencil and a scissors and just start going.
This was one of those projects. It started as I was looking through my grandmother’s vintage patterns that she sewed for my mother in the early 1950’s, and browsing through heirloom techniques. I knew I wanted to make Miss Cakes something reminiscent of this collection of pinafore patterns and embroidery transfers, something that only little girls can wear, as I’m ever aware of how she’s growing up so fast. And I knew I wanted to make her something out of gingham and eyelet.
Above: How the original pieces looked, and the bib piece traced off onto new paper.
I ended up using a pattern from the 1940’s to use as a reference, Advance 6963. Patterns this age didn’t come with all the lines and marks we’re used to today, they were simple tissue with different holes and markings punched right onto the tissue. This pattern was in such good condition, there weren’t even pinholes in the tissue from use. I ended up tracing off all the pieces I wanted to use onto fresh paper and kept the integrity of the original pattern.
One of the sweet things about gingham is how you can use it so many ways. Straight, on the bias, even in tiny pleats that form on every square. I cut the skirt and added a ruffle on the straight of grain, the bib on the straight, and the straps and waistband on the bias. I added a bit of bias to edge the top of the bib, as I was keenly aware once I cut that it was starting to look like a certain famous costume, and I could get double duty with it at Halloween. I cut a full lining for the skirt as the gingham was quite thin, and attached the eyelet to this. I also flatlined all the pieces with a white cotton batiste to give it more structure and to prevent the gingham from showing through from front to back.
The skirt pieces were just cut as fabric widths instead of following the original pattern; two widths for the skirt and the lining, and four widths for the ruffle. I fed the ruffle through the pleating attachment on my featherweight machine, which I hadn’t taken out in a long time, and this felt like the perfect project for it. The skirt and lining were gathered separately, as the layers have more body that way than if they had been gathered together. I cut a continuous lap placket on the bias and bound them together to avoid a center back seam.
I followed the original pattern’s instruction for the bib, straps, eyelet, and waistband. The construction on the waistband was a bit different and quite difficult to describe, I couldn’t understand it until I was actually doing it. But all came out well in the end. I love that the lower edge of the straps is angled, so when the straps are worn crossed in the back they end perfectly level with the waistband instead of square to the strap.
I made a matching bloomer from the Oliver + S Tea Party Sundress pattern. When we were dancing around taking pictures I realized she could use just a little bit of extra modesty with such a full skirt. All the casings are done with mini bias, which so perfectly complements the bias on the pinafore.
While I was sewing, I kept hoping she wouldn’t look like she’s: A. About to go square dancing, B. Starring in Oklahoma, or C. Off to see the Wizard. But in the end, it’s really an enchanting dress to twirl in. Somehow with all the planting we’ve been doing, she’s gotten it in her head that it’s her “gardening outfit.” She is her mother’s daughter after all, with a costume for any occasion.
Love from Wisco,
Rebekah and Miss Cakes