30 March 2015

Little Leading Strings

Last summer I made a sweet little gown for my daughter using the Larkin and Smith girl's gown pattern. Thanks to the extensive winter snow storms, I've had time to wash, iron and photograph it, and can now share construction notes. 
It's so pretty!
It's no secret I'm a moron at reading pattern directions, I luckily had a mock bodice that Hallie had kindly lent me ages ago that I could refer to for guidance. Hallie and Steph, who I consider mentors and friends, have done a great job at developing a pattern that is much needed for reenactors with little girls (or older toddler boys who aren't breeched). My notes are in no way intended as criticism; I hope they offer guidance for anyone creating a little child's gown and may stumble on the same areas as I did.

Like any period gown, the bodice is a little involved. The construction is similar to a lady's 18th century gown, such as lapping the side seams and setting the sleeves. One main variation on the child's gown is the back lacing feature. This pattern includes plackets that are sewn on top of the center back to cover the eyelets. To attach this, I used a spaced backstitch because it's pretty, and because this is intended to be an upperclass girl's gown.

You can get a better sense of how the plackets cover the eyelets here.

Just like making stays, there were oodles of eyelets to sew. 

I used a blended linen-cotton fabric that's rather lightweight. 
I repeated this fabric for the lining.
When sewing the skirt panels, I followed the cutting directions and made the four panels 20 inches wide. When it came to pleating the petticoat, it was a bit too much for her size, which at the time was about a child's 4-5. 

The photo above shows how the petticoat has a finished waistband, just like mom's version; however this petticoat is sewn to the bodice. The petticoat ties closed at the center back, like an under petticoat.

This image shows the front waist. The point at the front of the bodice is all finished. Rather than directly tacking this to the petticoat, it pretty much "hangs loose" and flops around.

I cheated a little! Inside seams were machine sewn.

In hopes that she can wear this for a second season, there are two growth pleats basted in place.
Detail of the back of the leading string.
To sew the leading strings and sash, I whip stitched two sides together. As you can kind of tell above, there is a "right side" that doesn't show the stitches and a "back side" with all the stitches.

When working with this pattern, there is one adjustment that I suggest making. The bodice is a bit too wide. As you can see in the photos below...

...the first time my daughter wore this gown it was very gappy in front. 
 The bodice front is a bit too wide.

Bodice pleat added under the left shoulder strap.

To help correct this, I made a little pleat on the bodice under each shoulder strap.

Not to pat myself on the back, but there's something magical about her wearing this gown which is somewhat captured in this mini video. 


  1. Love it! I'm working on this pattern right now--almost done!


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