A Second Chance

Although I did quite a lot of sewing for my two children when they were young, there were a few particular dresses I had always wanted to make for our daughter. Somehow by the time I had the time to think about making them, she had grown just a bit too old for these dresses better suited for a two, three, or four-year-old. But now I have a second chance to make them, this time for granddaughters. (Lucky me!)

With our oldest granddaughter’s third birthday approaching, I picked one of my favorite “sewing-for-children” books off of my shelf, and went right to the section on what has to be my favorite little girl’s dress of all time.

This beautiful book by Kitty Benton was published in 1981, by Hearst Book, New York. It is extensively illustrated, with explicit instructions for every project. It also has a complete section on Sewing Techniques, including smocking, embroidery stitches, hems, sewing on buttons, etc., etc. The book is an invaluable guide for heirloom sewing. Copies of it are available on Amazon and through a few Etsy shops.

This beautiful book by Kitty Benton was published in 1981, by Hearst Books, New York. It is extensively illustrated, with explicit instructions for every project. It also has a complete section on Sewing Techniques, including smocking, embroidery stitches, hems, sewing on buttons, etc., etc. The book is an invaluable guide for heirloom sewing. Copies of it are available on Amazon and through a few Etsy shops.

And here is the dress I love so much!

And here is the dress I have always loved so much!

The dress in the book is geared towards a two-year-old, so I decided to lengthen the bodice to fall at the waist, better suited for a young lady of three. I actually used this New Look pattern, version C (in lavender), for my pattern.

Obviously, I intended for the sash to tie in the back.

Obviously, I intended for the sash to tie in the back.

I lengthened the sleeves as well, in keeping with the intention of Kitty Benton’s design.

To transfer the embroidery design onto the bodice, I photo-copied it and enhanced the stitching lines with a fine-tipped black marker. Then I held it up to a window, with the blue gingham bodice piece centered on top, and I traced the design lightly with a sharp pencil.

A Second Chance embroidery pattern

A simple and sweet flower bouquet.

I used purchased yellow piping, being fortunate enough to find the perfect color. No need to make more work for myself when what I needed was readily available.

The embroidery on the dress took me longer than I anticipated, but I was able to finish the dress in the nick of time (except for a hook and eye at the back neck; I actually finished much of the hand sewing on it while spending the past 9 days with my daughter and granddaughters while our son-in-law was away on business; I forgot to bring hooks and eyes with me, so on my next visit, I’ll be doing that little addition!)

A Second Chance

I actually hand-picked the zipper! I'll be happy when I can get that neck properly finished with hook and eye.

I actually hand-picked the zipper. I’ll be happy when I can get that neck properly finished with hook and eye.

And a close-up look at what makes this little dress so endearing, besides the little person who will wear it!

And a close-up look at what makes this little dress so endearing, besides the little person who will wear it!

All I had to do was hope that the dress would fit little Aida well, and most importantly, that she would like it! Fortunately, both concerns were quickly dismissed, as she seemed to love the dress from first glance in the box and immediately wanted to put it on.

DSC_1147

A Second Chance

Her birthday party was held on the first day of Spring, and although it felt more like Winter, Aida happily wore her new dress for that special day.

The birthday girl!

The birthday girl!

Aida has already given me more joy than she will ever know – and also a second chance for some “little” sewing!

27 Comments

Filed under Heirloom sewing for children, Sewing for children, Uncategorized

27 responses to “A Second Chance

  1. Beautiful dress for a beautiful GD.

  2. 3-8 is such a great time for sewing for little girls…they love everything you make for them!

  3. So sweet! Making girls’ dresses is such rewarding fun.

  4. What a gorgeous dress! You always do such beautiful work, and this dress is no exception.

    I have that book too!

  5. Donna

    How absolutely delightful! The dress, the child and the fact that there are still those who feel that little girls can dress as little girls; not in miniature adult clothing. Beautiful. Your love shines through the project.

  6. Absolutely lovely dress on a beautiful little girl! No girl sewing for my three sons but now I have two granddaughters and am looking forward to some “second chance sewing.” Little Aida will join you at the sewing machine soon.

  7. Jenny

    Just the sort of dress I love making for my 2 little granddaughters. I use the Geranium dress pattern a lot and it is so versatile that it never looks the same twice.

  8. nancy

    Reminds me of the dresses my grandmother made for me and my sister(wish Mom had saved them!). Hope your daughter saves your beautiful works of art for her grands! Just lovely!

  9. Your dress is adorable. My copy of that book is well-worn! Just love these old fashioned dresses!

  10. Mary Lynn

    You did a beautiful job and it looks adorable on her!

    • Thank you, Mary Lynn. I know I am prejudiced, but it is difficult for anything not to look adorable on Aida!

      • Mary Lynn

        Thank heavens, being grandmothers we can be as prejudiced as we want!
        Blair is 16 months and she has yet to do anything I didn’t think was adorable! Her little occasional temper tantrums crack me up….. I get to go home 🙂

  11. Awww so much cuteness! Your embroidery work is gorgeous!

  12. Marguerite

    I love the dress! Embroidery is such a lovely touch on children’s clothes. How wonderful to have granddaughters to sew for. Truly a blessing! Aida looks wonderful in her dress and she is also blessed to have such a talented grandmother!

  13. Mery

    Sooo glad it fit beautifully and that she immediately appreciated it. I gave that book to a thrift shop. Tho normal size by age 7, often even petite and delicate, the babies in my family are built like little buffalo – big necks, wrists, ankles and more, and they grow very fast. One sailed thru size 6 months in 5 days. And they’re preemies. By the time they can go out in public they’re in size 12 months, which in most rtw boys clothes look like kindergarteners. New moms would’ve cried projectile tears if some nice church lady had said, “Oh, he doesn’t walk yet?” on a first outing. So I tried many times and occasionally got it right. Mostly I gave a lot of cute stuff to colleagues. I hope sister is also reasonably easy to fit.

    • Your comment really has me laughing! But seriously, making clothes for these little ones is fraught with anxiety over the right size to make. I think this dress is the only one I have actually gotten exactly right! Now I get to fret over getting it right for the littlest granddaughter!

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