A few years ago a family friend found maybe 20-30 old patterns at a Goodwill in Portland and gave them to me. They mostly ranged from 1940s to some 1960s and are in varying states of crumbling. She tried to find patterns that would be good for me but also included several baby clothing patterns which were all extremely cute. I had never used any because I had no reason to but this week Adam’s stepbrother visited NY with his wife and their baby who is almost 2. I have a few commissions I’m getting through right now but I felt like I still had to try making clothes for the baby as a present.

I used Butterick 8211 because I had it in a size 2 (for a 2 year old). Since I’m so new to making baby clothes and I don’t really know what size or proportions babies generally are, I did not deviate from the pattern design but I did incorporate a few construction elements I felt the pattern missed. The pattern is for a “toddlers’ play outfit” and the description reads, “A: Girls’ circular dress has front buttons, contrast collar, and bias trim; pockets. Worn with a suspender playsuit with bias trim; pockets, elasticized legs. B: Frilled version of A. No contrast. C: Boys’ version: shirt has contrast collar; bias trim; pockets; playsuit with straight legs.” As an aside I really like how terse this description is. This pattern is from 1955. I feel like a lot of my newer patterns really go on and on in the descriptions. Great use of semicolons and commas here.

I sewed this in a very soft lightweight cotton from Fabscrap. I did not have much left so it was the perfect amount for this outfit. The contrast collar, suspenders and pockets I did in a white pintucked cotton also from Fabscrap. The pattern is very simple and minimally seamed. The romper/play suit is seamed at the center front and back. The shirt is seamed in the back and open in the front so the pattern is only made from 5 pieces for both the romper and jacket (6 counting the romper facing not included in pattern). To me the pattern relies somewhat too heavily on bias trim to hide exposed seams/edges such as along the collar and along the top of the romper. Here’s an example:

The instructions say to basically construct a fake facing by sewing wrong sides together along the top of the overalls, and then bind the raw edges to hide the fake facing. Why not just omit the facing entirely? The point of a facing is to enclose raw edges without visible seaming. The point of a bias binding is to enclose raw edges with a binding. So why do both? I assume the facing is done in this way to avoid the trickiness of facing a curve and a sharp corner, but thanks to Prof. Lombardi of my couture sewing class this was not a problem and I simply faced the top correctly by narrowly trimming the corners and curves:

Easy. The rest of the romper was straightforward, some elastic insertion which was very easy after all this swimwear. The bottom has 4 snaps and the top suspenders are entirely removable. I added 2 buttonholes on the suspenders so they could be buttoned tighter or looser (again, not sure how big babies are).

The collared jacket presented a similar issue with the suggestion to bias bind the collar rather than facing it, which I understand (saves fabric) but I just faced the collar in the light blue cotton. As you can see in the photo I struggled to bias bind the tiny armholes (which are bound after the shoulders are sewn together, so it’s a very small space; maybe I should have sewn the binding before sewing up the shoulders just so it would be a little easier for me, or maybe a narrower bias would have worked better).

All the hems, etc are regular rolled hems. I also finished the interior seams with a zigzag stitch which I haven’t done since I got my serger, but seeing all the beautiful hand finishings on Shrimpton Couture’s instagram stories made me think about zigzag finishings with a new appreciation.

Outfit together:

Of course the most important part is putting it on the baby. It fit well, there was too much space in the back as I left the elastic so loose but it was fine. Most importantly here is baby Alma in her outfit, she especially seemed to like wearing it as a set and kept saying “jacket, jacket” whenever she wore only the romper and it always had to be buttoned.

Posted by:Patricia Torvalds

2 replies on “Sewing Baby Clothes: Butterick 8211

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