Cousins’ Matching Birthday Dresses

I’m busy making spa wraps for Laurel’s 10 birthday party guests and their AG dolls. Then I’ll start embroidering button covers for my Hope Yoder button-up machine. They will be attached to ponytail holders but the girls will do that at the party. Lots of fun, but nothing to show or report now. So once again, I am posting one of Judy Day’s projects.

Her 8 year-old granddaughters are just 3 months apart in age.  Making gorgeous, matching birthday dresses, along with gorgeous matching doll dresses and hairbows is an annual challenge for their long-distance grandmother. Of course, there are also matching Christmas and Easter dresses.  If you haven’t seen Judy’s lovely creations, click on Judy Day’s Creations  in the menu on the right.

As happens so often, Creative Needle  magazine provided the inspiration for the birthday dresses.  Judy told me that the Sept./Oct. 2001 issue had been waiting its turn on her cutting table since before the girls were born.  That’s where she stacks “I definitely want to make that!” ideas.

In this issue, Carol Harris had created her interpretation of an antique garment.  According to Judy, the instructions on marking and making the tucks were excellent.  Carol used Swiss voile, but because the girls’ birthdays are in the winter, Judy used Swiss flannel.

For the same reason, Judy made her sleeves 3/4 length rather than short puff sleeves.  In order to accommodate more tucks, she cut a deeper yoke.


My favorite feature is the back bodice with its embroidered buttons.  She opted for button loops rather than button holes, which would have interrupted the pattern. By using only every 3rd  loop, Judy managed to position the buttons in perfect alignment with the embroidered flowers.  Notice that the top buttons, above the tucks are not embroidered.    Details like these make Judy’s projects exceptional.

Before the birthday frocks were in the mail,  the girls’ Easter dresses were well underway.  Knowing what a short time we have to sew for our granddaughters, Judy doesn’t miss a single opportunity.  And as she says, with two granddaughters and two American Girls dolls, she always sews X4.

I know that Jo, Donna and Beckie have all sewn multiple matching outfits. Do you get tired of them before you have finished the second?  Have any other readers made matching garments?

7 responses to “Cousins’ Matching Birthday Dresses

  1. Beautiful work, Judy! The button detail IS amazing! And I love the feathers in the hairbows. As for the matching outfits, so far I haven’t gotten too terribly bored with them, but I have run out of time (no doll clothes at Easter)!

  2. I love the button detail, also. I think that I may have those exact buttons in my stash. I made a similar dress (many year ago), but with the tucks going vertically with the embroidery spaced down the tucks. Thanks for the mention & thinking of me. I am hanging in there and reading your blog often. The scales are slowly heading in the right direction, but my focus and energy is still lacking. Hugs.

  3. I’d like to know the method others use when making matching garments. I really like to do it assembly line style, because it feels like I finish faster and have less time to forget what I just did. But I hesitate to do that, because some problems in construction don’t show up until later, and then it’s more work to undo two!

  4. Jo, with homeschooling your 5 children, you don’t have time to be bored! I am amazed at what you accomplish sewing for your children. And then teaching sewing to your daughter and the neighbor child—you are a whirlwind of achievements, even if your girls did not get matching doll dresses at Easter.

  5. Hurrah, Beckie! Keep at it and you will meet your goal. The dress with vertical tucks and embroidery sounds lovely. Do you have a photo of it to share?

  6. Donna, you have hit the nail on my head! It seems that more often than not, when I try to save time by parallel sewing, I have to rip out the same error multiple times. Right now I am making 10 spa wraps and have decided to finish one completely before I go into assembly line sewing. I did serge the ruffles for each, get the monograms all organized. But now that I am a little unsure of the sequence that will work best with the vision of my finished product, I am doing just one. Judy, how do you do it?

  7. Thanks for the kind remarks. The flowers on the dresses are hand embroidered. The buttons are covered buttons that are also hand embroidered..

    I actually do the sewing in assembly line style. However, I have found that making the doll dresses first helps solve any problems that arise…and the seams are shorter if one has to come out!

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