What to do for a drooling baby who keeps soaking through layers of clothing? In the past I've often used bibs to keep the little babe dry, and now a new discovery has replaced the messy, flappy, often garish bibs.
How sweet it is to see little children dressed in simple, functional clothing that can easily be hand-made? These cotton and linen smocks were inspired by sweet Melanie at Our Ash Grove, with a little dose of Elsa Beskow.
I am often inspired by the illustrations of clothing in children's books. I've long admired the smock top on this little fella in Ollie's Ski Trip. When I saw the tops Melanie made for her baby boy (who is just a week younger than my little boy), we chatted and decided to do a two-part tutorial together that shows both of our versions of the smock top. You can check out her smock tutorial here. (Disclaimer note : I have been thoroughly influenced and creatively inspired by Melanie...this is entirely her idea...isn't she brilliant?)
I first assessed my dwindling piles of fabric and found some linens, including an old, old pair of brown linen pants that were my favourite for several years. I snipped away the holes and salvaged the remnants. On the inside, I've used some flannel prints. Melanie pointed out that it keeps the babe dry with an extra cozy layer...so clever! Once I gathered and pre-shrunk the fabric, I made some very basic measurements. For a 6 month old baby, I went a little roomy and made a pattern out of brown paper bags. The measurements are roughly as follows:
front neckline down to front bottom hem is about 9.5 inches
front shoulder strap to front bottom hem is 14 inches
width across bottom hem is 13 inches, but it could also be up to 15 or 16 inches
back shoulder strap to front bottom hem is 16 inches
an important note is to make the back shoulder strap with a slight curve to snugly fit babe's back
Step 2 Cut out one pattern from both the linen and the flannel.
Step 4 Carefully cut triangles all the way around the seam allowance. I don't know the technical lingo for this important step, I just know that this is how I've always made lined bodices in the past and it works really well. It allows the material to squish together when you turn it inside out without letting any bumps or puckers to form.
Step 5 Now trim off the excess seam allowance so it is just about 1/4" from the sewn edge.
Step 7 Fold the bottom hemline inwards on both the linen and the flannel sides of the smock. Stitch all the way around the smock, about 1/4" from the edge, including the bottom hemline now. This gives it a finished look and prevents the smock from losing shape in the wash. Also, add buttonholes to the front strap ends and sew on buttons onto the back strap ends. You'll need the help of the little babe now to find the right placement for the buttons. I like to make the straps a little long so that I can just move buttons as my child grows...it kind of lengthens the wear of the garment.
Step 8 This is where more creativity comes alive. I really like applique work in that it is a simple, yet easy way to make a piece of clothing unique. It took me a long time to figure out if you use the double sided sticky fusible webbing (available at any fabric store), it makes the applique go on soooooo easily. For years I never used this stuff, but now I'm hooked!
The versatility of these smocks is wonderful. The first one I made, which is really roomy, fits my two and a half year old daughter, even if it is quite snug. I have plans to make her bigger, fuller, pinker ones this spring.
Oh, and the timing is so good! Just today, little Huckley broke his first tooth!!! Bring on the drool!