I love to sew. I wish I had more time for it. This coming week is sew-a-thon week for me, God willing. I have a pile of things cut out, even kapps to be finished, as well as children’s bonnets, a dress and bloomers for two-year-old Patience, and (ah-hem) baby clothes for an expected GRANDDAUGHTER! (Is there any greater midlife bliss than for a traditional woman to find out a little girl is on the way? Oh, please, don’t let her parents crave pink leopard print sleepers and tiny t-shirts with a crowned skull in glittering mauve…Because Nanny is sewing tiny floral dresses with matching pantoloons and bonnets, that’s why.)
Many of my baby and child patterns are vintage. Apron patterns, too. Most rummage sales and thrift stores will have boxes of them, or you can get them for a song and a few cents at estate sales and auctions. If a pattern is much holed or has been torn, I trace it onto tissue paper or old gift wrap. Leftover gift wrap is great for patterns, much sturdier than tissue, and you can then make notes right on the pattern piece without tearing it. And if you actually have most of a roll of l’il Nemo paper left after six years, there’s use for it.
I bought two patterns from Friends Patterns (http://www.friendspatterns.net) recently, a cape dress (3 piece Ohio style dress) and a surplice apron. I have the fabric, but haven’t touched it yet because, well, little girls grow up so fast…
I am very impressed with the quality of the patterns. Directions are clear and extensive, and the paper is high quality, drafting type. These patterns will last. With a little tape measure work it would be fairly simple to alter the pattern to fit well, I think. They are not discount patterns in any way, but since you could use these for decades, don’t be intimidated by the price. I paid with PayPal, and everything was shipped promptly.
Others speak highly of Kathy’s Modest Sewing/Common Sense Patterns. (http://www.commonsensepatterns.com). She has a wide range of patterns for women, girls, infants and little boys. The styles are simple and modest, but not really Plain, although some of the dresses would look great with an apron over them, made in small dark prints or plain colours. She has patterns for modest underwear and nightwear as well.
Do you remember Folkwear patterns? I was a romantic child of the seventies, and yes, I do! They are still around. (http://folkwear.com.) If plain Plain or modest pastor’s wife doesn’t quite work for you, they have some beautiful traditonal and old-fashioned styles in their Old Europe, Romantic and Frontier lines. There’s a prairie dress just like Laura Ingalls wore, and a Kinsale cloak that would have impressed my Irish great-grandmother. There’s underthings out of a Victorian bride’s trousseau, as well. Just what you need to feel like a real woman! I’ve had their patterns in the past, and they were always well-made and well-described. I wish they would publish a traditional Hutterite costume – waist-length jacket, full long skirt, and kerchief. These are often made in rich colours and old-world prints. The kerchief is always black with white dots – I don’t know why!
I know that I’m sewing a Kinsale cloak before this winter!