A new granny dress for a New Granny!

posted in: Finished projects | 12

Its been a tough week for my daughter who was due to have her new baby on 2 July. I was expecting a call every night from the end of June and I am delighted to tell you the baby arrived safely yesterday – 12 July.

While waiting I ran up a couple of frocks.

The first was for Esme to wear to the wedding yesterday of her best friends Gemma and Bren. She wanted a retro 50s look, with buttons at the front for easy baby feeding, and chose some yellow, blue and white striped fabric. Its a bit like seersucker and it was not an easy sew. I had to avoid steam as it puckered when ironed, and I expect it may behave strangely when washed.

Esme expected to attend the ceremony  with her new born tucked in a sling. She asked me to make a suitable dress, which was quite a tall order.  At no other time would a woman’s waist go down from something like 40″ to 25″  over a few days, while the bust measurement might go from say 32″ to 36″. I went on Artisan’s Square to ask for help.

Dress 1 Design and Construction

I used a tried and tested blouse pattern (size 12) I had used for my SWAP, Vogue 5569. It has a kimono sleeve which means I can take it in from  just the side-and-sleeve seam. For the skirt I dithered about pleats and zips and panels, and in the end decided on elastication. I left the safety pin in the elastic so that it could be tightened to fit. It is fairly full and I plan to turn it into a pleated skirt with a waist band once her body returns to normal. I figured she could wear a belt or tuck it in or wear it loose, or even wear the blouse over a T shirt, as a jacket.

Wedding two piece
Wedding two piece

None of this happened.

Instead of going to the wedding Esme woke up feeling really down as the midwives had booked her in for an induction tomorrow morning (Monday). She knew she couldn’t travel to Nottingham for a wedding at “41+3″( as it says in her notes). I suggested a nice lunch out and we met at the beautiful Skylon restaurant on the Southbank and had a splendid meal.

Esme was in the early stages of labour and having a few uneven contractions thoroughout our three courses, tea and petit fours.  The sommelier gave her odd looks as she went a bit vacant and started puffing from time to time. Anyway it was all very manageable and we spent a couple of hours taking, eating (boy – has she got an appetite!) and laughing hilariously at Tommy Cooper jokes. We went for a walk around the “Love Festival” (how appropriate!) in the glorious sunshine, she pausing from time to time to have a contraction. At around 4pm we decided to walk home as she did not fancy taking the bus. As we navigated the Waterloo area her contractions got more serious and she held on to me or grabbed some street furniture and swayed during each one. I realised we needed to get her home asap, so I left her propped up by a pub while I tried to find a taxi. Luckily a passerby asked if he could help, and by standing in the middle of the road he managed to flag one down. What a relief! We were driven home carefully by a cabbie who claimed he “had seen it all before”. Esme more or less crawled out of the cab to her front door and prepared to give birth on the floor of the sitting room, with Shane in attendance. The community midwives arrived, and 90 minutes later the baby arrived too. Esme’s step-sisters Lily and Rosa turned up with flowers from the garden and you can see the unworn wedding outfit on the peg rail.

Babe's aunties come to visit
Babe’s aunties come to visit

Dress 2 Design

The other dress I made this week was for me. My concentration levels being somewhat lacking I chose a pattern described as “FAST and EASY”. I sent a picture to Esme wishing her a “FAST and EASY” labour (and so, thank God, it was). The fabric I chose was a remnant from Simply Fabrics – it’s a viscose crepe with a retro pattern.  Although my pattern was a size 10 (b32) I measured the pieces and concluded it had adequate ease to fit me. I made the torso an inch longer and did not adjust the length.

Butterick 3636 flared dress with bishop sleeves
Butterick 3636

This look sums up the 1970s for me, especially the 70s doing the 40s.

Here are some typical 1940s dress making patterns. Generally a very flattering look for the average woman. Some emphasis on the shoulders to balance out the hips and on the waist, often belted. Fitted around the rib cage making the torso appear lithe, aided by the wrapped look, a V-neck and the flared skirt. This look was rejected in the 50s and 60s, but rediscovered in the 1970s. Most women will look good in the designs of the 1940s and 1970s, in my opinion.

1940s dress 1940s dressa

Dress 2 Construction

This was indeed a nice, fast and easy make. I lined the bodice rather than use the facings, and probably should have lined the skirt too. The fabric I chose had a medium sized floral motif which, in an ideal world I would have matched. I didn’t have enough fabric and I didn’t have the time, and I am happy with the look. The sleeves are gathered bell sleeves, known as Bishop sleeves for obvious reasons. The suggested method was to use bias binding to create the channel for the elastic, which I did. It’s nice and easy to wear, so I may make the sleeveless version too.

Butterick 3636
Butterick 3636
My new grandbaby - less than 24 hours old!
My new grandbaby – less than 24 hours old!


12 Responses

  1. Joyce

    Congrats!!!!!! what a beautiful baby!! just perfect I say. Best wishes to all, mommy and Grandma———– awesome!! ………. isn’t that just great…and what a story!! just in the nick of time ! ha………. I’ll re-read this later, but for now……….applause applause :~ ) huge smiles from Canada

  2. Joyce

    absolutely love the cover photo…the two children and a peek of the dress……. once again… Congrats!! (I will be expecting our second grand-child this winter …fun fun fun)

  3. sew2pro

    Hurrah for the new grandbaby!! You must be so proud (and relieved…) and what an exciting time for the entire family.

    Love your new dress. The colours are very July and suit you perfectly but then again, you knew that!

  4. Nhi

    Congratulation to new granny Kate, and new mum Esme! Love both dresses. Think dress 1 would suit Esme well in terms of colour, and especially its versatility. Would be good to see how it fits on her.
    Like dress 2 and the pink cardigan on you: chic! chic! chic!

  5. Arlene

    I love happy endings! Sounds like quite the day. I love the dress you made too–it is so flattering, as you say. I wish there were more dresses like this in stores. Perhaps you should be starting a new business!!

  6. Kristy

    Oh wow what an exciting story! I’m so glad your daughter made it home and the little one didn’t arrive in the taxi. Lovely dress too, I quite like the look of the less extreme 70s fashion too

  7. Dawn

    Many congratulations to you all! A beautiful baby and a beautiful big brother! And the clothes aren’t half bad too! And the Skylon, what a fantastic place to labour… Much love, Dawn

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