Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Making Clothes for Children

Making Clothes for Children is the title of a book I have in my sewing library.  It is a second edition published in 1944 and was written by Agnes M. Miall, who also wrote a book on Home Dressmaking and another titled The Everyday Embroidery Book. 

One of the front pages adds this description of the book under the title " Every mother's practical Guide to the art of making and mending for the children from babyhood to adolescence with chapters on nursery equipment and furnishings and fancy dress". That is a lot to cover in 185 pages!

Agnes tells us in Chapter 1, Preliminaries, that the woman who starts dressmaking by fashioning her first baby's layette is very lucky for she learns how to sew in the easiest and happiest way. Agnes goes on to say that starting with the small baby clothes and progressing to the needs of a toddler and growing child make it easier to make clothes for an adult.

In this chapter Agnes says the first step towards good needlework is good equipment (a word she thinks might have an alarming sound!). She lists basic sewing supplies, the same as we might have ourselves today: tape measure, pins, needles, thimble, scissors, pincushion, marking tools.

Agnes also stresses the need for a white apron with a large bib, which should always be worn when working on delicate and pale fabrics such as those used for layette items or they may lose their first freshness before they are completed.

A sewing machine is not an essential part of the construction of baby items as Agnes feels the mother will want to hand sew each garment and take to time reflect on the change in her life and family while she does so. She does, however recommend having one by the time you are making toddler clothes!

In this chapter too, the seamstress is recommended to set aside a corner, warm in winter and well lighted both by day and evening, for the purpose of sewing. She is told that if the room is carpeted, to keep the floor tidy and free from bits, it is best to keep an old sheet to spread under your chair and sewing table. This will collect the ends of cotton and cuttings, not to mention dropped pins and is easily bundled up  and shaken outside when the day's sewing is completed or you receive an unexpected caller!

Agnes then goes on to chapter 2 which details stitches and progresses through the sewing process. She also includes decorative embroidery stitches in the books and instructions on smocking, but maybe I will visit that section in a later blog.

Some of what Agnes writes seems very outdated and makes me smile, but much of what she writes is still applicable today.

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