For Laurel’s 9th birthday I finally finished smocking this nightie. The matching gown for her American Girl Molly had long since been done but when little Vivian Rose was born I was wrapped up making baby girl things, so this project was pushed to the back burner. I was so glad to have both pink things out of my sewing room.
Like the Molly’s nightgown, Laurel’s has a machine embroidered heart in the unsmocked area at center front. The designs are from Martha Pullen’s Little Pleasures collection which includes two nearly identical hearts in two sizes. A little editing made them match almost perfectly. Laurel notices and appreciates details like that.
The smocked sleeves were similar, if not identical.
Molly’s had less detail.
Both gowns have machine stitched hems which are covered with lace edging. That is a nice time saver.
Imperial broadcloth was used for both gowns, though I might have preferred batiste. But with a bolt of pink broadcloth on the shelf and no pink batiste, I decided I reeeeally wanted broadcloth.
With so much time between the construction of the doll nightdress and Laurel’s, I forgot to apply two tip I had picked up the hard way. The first tip is understanding that the release of the center pleats actually added length to the neckline. Theoretically, 3″ of flat fabric will be reduced to 1″of smocking. Leaving that unsmocked area flat made it very hard to pack the pleats tightly enough to meet the suggested finished neck size. Ultimately, I decided that Molly would probably like a looser neck line and gave up trying to make the smocking fit.
Forgetting that when making Laurel’s gown ended up being a blessing in disguise. She has been through a major growth spurt, making the planned growth tucks unnecessary. The extra wide neckline is very comfortable for her and will extend the time she can wear the gown.
The second thing I learned on the doll gown and then forgot was that I should have left the bottom 2 rows of pleating threads in place in the flat center area. On Molly’s gown, the mock baby waves under the embroidery was an afterthought. Without the guidance of the gathering threads, the waves are uneven.
The same thing happened on Laurel’s gown–uneven baby waves. Oh, well, she will still have sweet dreams.
In time, I did remember one tidbit learned from Molly’s gown. In order for the bias binding to be smooth, it must be filled. That is accomplished with the bulk of the pleats. But when the binding meets the flat fabric in the unsmocked area, there is not enough filler. So after zig zagging over the pleats, the excess above the zig zag was trimmed away, but the entire seam allowance of the center section fabric was left in tact. That filled the binding nicely.
Laurel loves her smocked nightie and declares that Molly does too. Happy birthday and sweet dreams, Sweet Girl.
Laurel’s mother hosts the most fabulous, creative birthday parties. Continue reading