I haven’t sewn for babies in a while. When the opportunity presented itself, I realized how much I love it (and miss it). I spent way longer than I needed to browsing my Ottobre magazines. It was fun to see all the patterns that I had made for my kids when they were little.
Ultimately, I chose to sew a pattern that I hadn’t sewn before, Ottobre 3/2009 #5 (Alicia Dress). I wanted a classic design, but not too simple. And I really dislike the elastic neckline designs– it screams lazy to me. It is a great beginner design, but real clothing ought to have buttons or zippers- imo.
I wanted to gift something that was more classy and special. Though it didn’t take more time really, to do the front pleats, bound neckline, and button placket.
Though I think it would be fantastic just as designed, I made a couple of changes.
I omitted the contrast hem- I wanted the dress to go with another project that I’m working on and not compete with the other pieces. This dress will complete the DIY gift set for baby. (psst: pop back by on Friday to see the complete set, get a free pattern, and enter a fabric giveaway)
I changed one other thing. I made the sleeves shorter by sewing casings for the elastic, instead of sewing the elastic directly to the fabric as I usually do (and the pattern allows for). You can read more about how I do that technique here and here. I have several swimwear posts and tutorials as well. Just search for them to see how to do this technique with the traditional sewing machine.
The dress is simple to sew together and took about an hour and half to 2 hours once it was cut out.
Everything went together as it should.
If you’ve never sewn with Ottobre patterns. The first step is to decipher the road map of a pattern page and find the pattern pieces to trace. The patterns don’t include seam allowances, so the next step is to add them to the traced pattern pieces. The hem allowances are included and the neckline on this particular pattern is bound with bias binding, so no seam allowance is needed on that edge.
I actually prefer to add my own seam allowances. It makes sewing accurately easy to manage and I like to choose my seam allowance. For this dress I added 1/4” seam allowance. Usually I do 3/8” on woven fabrics, but I’ve been working on my third book and I’ve been sewing a lot of doll clothes with 1/4” SA. So there it is.
Adding the Seam Allowances can be done in different ways.
You can purchase these plastic gadgets-this blue one in the photo is set for adding 1/2″ seam allowances.
I’ve taped two pencils together also, which is slightly more than 1/4″. When I trace the pattern, I keep the second pencil on the outside and it adds a seam allowance as I trace the pattern piece.
When I need to be extremely accurate, I use a sewing gauge and add the seam allowances carefully.
When I’m in a hurry, I just sew the seam allowances onto the pattern tracing with a sewing machine, by sewing 1/4” from the drawn line all the way around (without thread in the needle). The easiest way to do this is to use a 1/4″ piecing foot for adding a 1/4″ seam allowance or a presser foot that is 3/8″ wide from needle position to the edge of the foot for a 3/8″ seam allowance. Keep the pencil line on the edge of the presser foot and sew. Then cut along the needle dots. I hope that makes sense. I made this image clickable for you to click on and see it larger, sop hopefully you can see the needle holes.
The fit is amazing, which is the main reason I sew with Ottobre instead of the Big 4 pattern companies. Vintage Kwik Sew Patterns are my other go to patterns.
The baby I sewed this for is 7 months old. She wears between 6-9 months sizes in ready to wear clothes. I sewed size 68 for her.
and weighs about 18.5 pounds.
The A-line silhouette is perfect. I love children’s clothes that don’t overwhelm the child or live dangerously close to being circus costumes.
I adore the pleats…any excuse to sew pleats and I’m all over it.
And true to Ottobre style, top stitching details don’t disappoint.
Most of the instructions were very clear. There are no pictures to help the sewist understand each step, but it’s fairly straight forward. If you’ve sewn dresses before, there’s not a lot of new things going on with this one.
The instructions weren’t as clear as I would have liked concerning the neckline. From reading the written instructions, it wasn’t clear to me whether or not the back button placket should be folded or unfolded when sewing on the bias binding. I determined through the measurements that the center back edges needed to be folded in order for the binding to fit. So that’s what I did.
The instructions also neglected to instruct the sewist to turn under the raw edges of the binding tape at the center back, which I did, so the finish is neat.
I spaced my buttons 3″ apart and needed 5 buttons.
All in all, I love this dress. This is really similar to the dresses I used to dress my babies in (they were no longer babies in 2009). I think it will make a cute tunic as baby grows and starts to walk. Ottobre tends to have a generous ease in their patterns. Maybe I should make her some patterned leggings to grow into 😉