Christmas Critters III



Laurel’s Christmas dress was finished just in time for her brother Robert’s preschool Christmas program. In fact, her father had taken her for an afternoon outing and managed to get her to the program wearing jeans and a tee shirt only a few minutes ahead of me carrying her holiday clothes.

She was absolutely taken with the dress, mostly because of the fullness of the 90″ skirt.   This motivated her to twirl, perform some of her ballet moves and smile at everyone, entertaining the waiting parents, grandparents and friends. Laurel loves an audience, even if, technically, it’s her brother’s audience.



critter bib


The bib, collar and sleeves are all trimmed with ecru tatted edging. The design on the embroidered button on bib is yet another from Bernina’s Current Critters Continued. Laurel’s mother has decided that the “critter” nestled in the big bow is a baby squirrel and she should know. As a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, she has hand fed hundreds of them. I always thought it was a mouse, but I defer to her expertise.

Purchased more than 20 years ago, the pattern for the Viyella plaid, extended yoke dress is very old.   If you have been doing this kind of sewing for very long, you might be familiar with yesteryear’s challenging directions .  They often consisted of two typewritten pages with a number of hand drawn sketchy illustrations, like this pattern.  And often, important information was left out.

The pattern showed a Peter Pan collar, but in fact, it was for a shaped lace collar. The “lace collar guide” seemed adequate, but then the directions said to edge it with gathered lace but no specific width was mentioned. So with that collar pattern, I had no idea just how wide the collar needed to be  to accommodate the tatted edging trim.

As I have so many times before, I pulled out Elizabeth Travis Johnson’s The Complete Book of Sewing for Children. Following the directions step by step, drafting the collar was a breeze and fit absolutely perfectly.

My original plan was to use Mrs. Johnson’s Patty dress, from Children’s Corner. But after fiddling with the boys’ outfits to match the plaid, I decided that I didn’t have time for that kind of challenge with pleats. So I had to re-draft the Patty bib pattern to fit the extended yoke.

The bias band on the sleeve didn’t suit me.  I was undecided as to how I wanted to finish the sleeves, so I pulled out another of my favorite reference books, Mildred Turner’s heirloom sewing book, Mimi’s Machine Magic.

There are three books in the set and I love each one. They are chock full of techniques, inspiration and large, very clear illustrations.  Like Mrs. Johnson’s book, Mildred’s books are out of print and what a shame!  Looking over two full pages of sleeve illustrations, I saw just what I wanted.  One inch above the tatted edging is a row of bullion knots through which the red ribbon is threaded.

When I was considering the banded sleeve, there were no suggested, average upper arm measurements in either the pattern or the other reference books I had checked. But sure enough, in the sleeve section of Mildred’s book, there was the chart with the very measurement I had needed.

There were numerous other complications and mistakes, made by me.  In a hurry, I marked one of the bib buttonholes incorrectly and didn’t notice until I scanned it for the picture above. I’ve since stitched another but the misplaced one  still has to be picked out.

Yada yada yada… Rebecca says I give too many details to keep her interest, so I’ll stop now and thank those of you who  have stuck with me for your patience. I doubt Rebecca has read this far, but if she has I say, hurrah, Rebecca!

And if you get a chance, let me know how you feel about inclusion of so many details.  If necessary, be brutal.  I really want to know.

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