evolution of a baby dress

Our friends Naomi and Mike just had their first baby. Mike taught my kids music for years. I decided to make their baby girl a dress. Some of my old sewing books have thrifty sewing projects that include making little girl dresses out of a man's shirt. you can see modern takes on the same idea on some of the many crafty sites on the web. One of the nice thing about making a little girl dress out of a man's shirt is by using the button front as the back of the dress, you save yourself the tedious job of making button holes and sewing on buttons.

A visit to my favorite thrift store yielded a lovely blue floral Tommy Hilfiger shirt. None of the guys in my family would wear such a thing, but it was perfect for a baby dress.

When folks see my work, they will often say " Oh, you are so talented. Sewing must come so naturally to you." In fact, the opposite is true. it is not easy for me to learn the things that I do and some things have taken years to learn. I have been reading instructions on how to do smocking probably for the past 15 years. I have made several botched attempts to smock during that time. despite my failures, I decided that I would smock a dress for Naomi and Mike's baby.

I grew up wearing smocked dresses. I remember that when I was abut 5 or so seeing my friend's mother, Mrs. O'Hare smocking in her living room. The O'Hares like most of the other families in my neighborhood were a large Catholic family. My family with three kids was teeny in comparison with most of the families on the block. The O' Hares had nine kids. The O'Donnell's next door to them won the big family prize on the street with eleven kids.

Mrs. O'Hare smocked one dress for each of her kids as a Christmas present. That year it was my friend Meggie's turn to get a dress smocked for her. I didn't know that either smocking, or even dressmaking was something that an actual person could do.

After I visited my OB-Gyn to take the pregnancy test that confirmed that I was pregnant with my second, I stopped by the Madison Avenue boutique, Magic Windows that specializes in smocked garments for Park Avenue children. On the clearance rack I found a smocked romper for a baby boy. It is the sort of idiotic garment that one can not put on a baby boy outside of New England or outside of Park Avenue.To eyes not used to that sort of a thing...it looks like girl clothes.

I was indeed pregnant with a boy. And yes, I did have him wear it on his first Rosh Ha Shanah. OK, so everyone in my synagogue all thought that I had lost my head and put my son in girl's clothing, but I knew I was upholding goofy New England traditions.

So all of this by long way of introduction to the importance of putting babies in smocked garments.
For the technical end of things, I marked a series of dots on the reverse of the fabric a centimeter apart. I took a teeny stitch under pairs of those dotted markings and gathered them together two dots at a time and secured with a back stitch. After five rows of gathered markings, i embroidered over the front The entire process was much less time consuming than I had anticipated.. Now I have to construct the dress, sewing front to back and edging the hems.


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