Little Anne with her rattle.

Life with a baby has been great! Anne is an amazing sleeper, so I can’t complain about not getting a night’s sleep because of her. However, sometimes, I just can’t sleep! This little number was the result of one of those nights.

I made this dress from a small piece of fabric in my stash and about 4 hours of time. It is based on an infant’s dress at The Met that I had fallen in love with. The only major difference is the original has an a-line skirt, rather than the straight sides I used. I made it as a basic square with sleeves with the sleeves having a tiny vandyke fine hem… that part took the longest of the entire thing!

The major hallmark of baby clothes from the 1790s-1810’s is a drawstring waist, which is easy and fast to produce. This one also has a gathered neckline. That part stumped me for a bit, but I made an executive decision to attempt to get as much wear out of this garment as possible. Children grow a lot, and I’d like for her to wear it next year, too!

Since the drawstring neckline in the extant doesn’t extend through the shoulder seams to the back, I had to figure out a way to make it not only look the same as the original, but also function as a way to get more longevity. I left one side of the front drawstring casing open and tacked the cotton tape to the selvage of the sleeve while the other side is closed and fixed in place. I’ll be able to get another 1 1/2 inches out of the front neckline which coincides with typical 12-18 month baby measurements. (see photos below)

The vandyking of the sleeves has got to be the best part about this garment. They’re very tiny- only 1/2 inch from cut to cut. Since the inside of the vandying was raw at the top, I ended up tucking the edge up about 1/16inch to conceal the raw edges and hopefully make it launder without it fraying. (Edit: Since originally writing out this post I had hand laundered the dress with rigorous effort and am happy to mention that the tuck seems to have done the trick!)

Ultimately, I’m extremely happy with how this turned out. Anne got to wear it for the first time to a fashion show, and again at the Fair at New Boston. She seemed to have a good time at both. She looked cute if nothing else!

If there’s interest, I’ll be doing a pattern or kit in the Virgil’s store for those who would like to make their own. Let me know if that’s something you’re interesting in!

Thanks for reading and I hope this post helps those of you clothing your little ones in the early 19th century!