The Old Year Sails Away

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way” is a maxim I grew up with, and once again, it served me well to remember it. Although much of my sewing had to be put on hold after I injured my left hand in October, I was determined to get a dress made for each of my two granddaughters for Christmas. Matching sister dresses seemed to be the way to go.

Sailboat dresses

My inspiration was a child’s jumper I had seen on Pinterest, with appliquéd sailboats, but first I needed to find the right fabric. I knew I wanted to make the jumpers out of fine wale corduroy, and a quick search on produced a lovely Robert Kaufman fabric with the requisite anchors embroidered onto it.


The coordinating cottons I found at JoAnn’s, along with a pattern which I adapted to this particular use:

This is a very adaptable pattern. I was quite pleased with it!

This is a very adaptable pattern. I was quite pleased with it!

I turned the shoulder seams into button tabs, with the thought that this would make the dresses more “adjustable.” (I still installed zippers in the center back seams, as this just makes it so much easier to get two little busy girls dressed.) Button tabs also allowed me to use two sets of vintage buttons I had stashed away, waiting for the perfect application for them.

The larger buttons I used for my older granddaughter's dress and the smaller ones for my younger one's dress.

The larger buttons I used for my older granddaughter’s dress and the smaller ones for my younger one’s dress.

I lined the bodices in red polka dotted cotton, and I took a little bit of the fullness out of the skirt patterns. I added carriers to the sides of each bodice, for the belts to slip through.

Sailboat dresses

The belts come off completely, for easy washing. Being sewn on the diagonal keeps them from twisting, and it also makes them more interesting!

The belts come off completely, for easy washing. Being sewn on the diagonal keeps them from twisting, and it also makes them more interesting!

Then I left the hull of the sailboats open along the top edge, so my little girls could use them as pockets if they like. And, of course, I had to add some rickrack embellishment – to the mast as streamers, and below the boats, as waves.

Sailboat dresses

Although I was fairly certain the girls would like these jumpers, I was gratified and somewhat amazed at their excited and happy reactions to what they dubbed their “swirly dresses.” After what turned out to be a difficult year for me, it was rewarding to end it with a little success!




Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, Jumpers, Sewing for children, vintage buttons

29 responses to “The Old Year Sails Away

  1. Absolutely adorable dresses! I hope your hand has healed 🙂

  2. Mery

    So cute! The fabrics, the buttons, the design, the rickrack details, bias belts, and those pockets! Just couldn’t be better. Not only precious but something they’ll wear often. I’m so happy your hands made it through. Will and a lot of inspiration. So glad to read your news. May this new year be full of blessings.

    • Thank you, Mery! They were fun to make and even more fun to see them unwrapped on Christmas morning to such enthusiasm!
      Blessings to you, as well, for the new year suddenly upon us.

  3. Donna

    Too cute for words. And so special to have sister dresses. Maybe they will save them and someday their little girls can wear “cousin” dresses.

  4. Mary Lynn

    These are so adorable. I hope you don’t mind if i copy your clever ideas for my 2 yr old granddaughter. She’s growing so fast, smocking seems a little labor intensive for the time she’ll be able to wear them. i hope you’re totally

    • Hi Mary Lynn! I’d be delighted and flattered to have you copy any idea! I agree – smocking is very time consuming for these little girls who grow so fast. But I am sure you do beautiful work and that it is so appreciated!

  5. Patricia

    Happy New Year to you and so glad your hand has healed. What a beautiful post, So special to have something “made,” not too many people I know sew for their grandchildren. The reason, “you can buy so cheaply” such a shame as everything now is a throw away society. Your little dresses will be treasured and remembered.

  6. Heather Myers

    Wonderful dresses! I am glad you are on the mend. Happiness and prosperity in the new year.

  7. Marianne

    So adorable, no wonder the girls were so excited! I’m happy to see you’re on the mend although your first sentence made me think it wasn’t all smooth sailing!

  8. Elizabeth Noel

    Happy New Year .
    I came across this blog a few months ago and it has since been a source of great joy and inspiration . I was so sorry that you hurt your hand and do so hope that all the pain and misery is now behind you .
    The two dresses in your latest post are absolutely gorgeous with such beautiful details .
    If you have a moment I think you would enjoy this article I read in the Guardian ( London ) from their fashion section ” Designing a basic wardrobe on £100 – archive 1957 ” £100 is £2,000 in todays money ,not sure what that is in dollars !

    • Happy New Year to you as well. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and for the link to the Guardian article. I loved reading it. What style there was in the 1950s, and I usually think of 1957 as the peak of classic fashion.

  9. Oh I loved those days! Girl#2 always called them pop can dresses, every dress had to do that! Love the corduroy, there are so many cute prints and fabrics available for little girls. So much fun, and so glad you are back sewing!!

  10. urbanite

    You may have been sidelined, but you have not lost your deft style touch that makes details shine. Happy your back.

  11. Jackie Shepherd

    Absolutely precious dresses! Looking forward to your new projects this year.

  12. Such lucky little granddaughters! These dresses are absolutely adorable, and will be carefully tucked away for next generations once they are outgrown. So glad to see that you’re back to sewing, hope that means your hand is healing nicely.

  13. What a wonderful grandmother you are! The dresses are a work of art and labor of love! Thanks for sharing.

  14. heather

    So sweet & wonderful of you to make for them! i love the rick-rack touches! you are so talented! hope you have a better 2017! 🙂

  15. Janney

    Cute, CUTE, cute!

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