Troublesome Diaper Shirt





I’m still frantically making  toddler toys for Operation Christmas Child so I haven’t had time to write up a new post.  Getting all 50 of these in-the-hoop stuffed dolls and animals out the door is my highest priority right now.   As soon as they are finished, I can get back to stitching baby girl things for our newest granddaughter, due at Christmas.  So this re-run will have to do for now.

It seems especially appropriate, since it is our daughter Rebecca’s baby we are eagerly awaiting.  Read below to see why.

This little diaper shirt will be pulled out of the special items packed away after granddaughter Laurel outgrew them.  To go with it, I’m going to make a pair bloomers with an eyelet edge.  Do you think yellow gingham or solid?

Oooh, I cannot wait to see this precious, long-awaited baby in smocked and heirloom clothing.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Babies are always more trouble than you thought – and more wonderful. Charles Osgood

Even 5 year old Laurel is well aware of the first part of this sentence.  Babies are, in her words, “a LOT of trouble!” Recently, for a homeschool social studies lesson, we did a time line to help her get a grip on sequence and the passage of time. We used my handy roll of 8″ wide Stitch ‘N Ditch to wrap around our classroom.  The teacher’s manual said to tape pieces of notebook paper together—-hummph!  Sewing notions to the rescue!.

This time line showed dates and pictures of events, beginning with  her Nana and Granddad’s birth, our wedding, her parents’ birth, their wedding, her birth and that of her brother —-I wanted to establish early on that first the wedding and then a birth is the preferred sequence of events. The time line ended with a photo of her and Robert jumping off a log a few weeks ago in 2010.

” Next year,” I explained, ” it will be 2011 and more things will happen.” She shook her head dubiously, and stated rather than asked, “What else could happen?”  Obviously, the history of the world was complete now, with the birth of her cousin Alastair, her brother Robert and herself.

“Well, Aunt Rebecca might have another baby,” I suggested. “Oh, no,” she asserted  as she shook her head yet again. “She won’t do that!”

“And why not?” I inquired.

“Because babies are a LOT of trouble (her emphasis). Mommy says so. And I know Robert sure is!”

Trouble or not, babies are wonderful and the anticipation of their arrival is a joyful, exciting and busy time. This diaper shirt was made in the flurry of preparations for Laurel’s May birth. Florida’s sultry summers can be brutally hot.   But with a nature loving mother, Laurel was sure to be spending a considerable amount of time outdoors even during her first summer.

This gossamer thin diaper shirt began with fabric that had been in my stash for some time, purchased for no other reason than that it was uniquely suited for summer baby’s diaper shirt.  Since our son had been married almost 9 years, I had been hopefully waiting and preparing for a grandchild for some time.   The fabric, barely 18″ wide, appears to have been intended for  flounces at the hemline of a skirt. There was no selvage and the top raw edge was scalloped, echoing the pattern of the finished edge, like Swiss edging.




Nancy Coburn’s book, Diaper Shirt 1, was used for the pattern. While Nancy does not include a smocked version, as in all her fabulous books, she gives a basic pattern which encourages a world of design options.

It should have been easy to add smocking to the garment, but the gauze-like fabric is so shifty that it required heavy starch and pressing to enable a straight feed into the pleater. Even cutting out the pattern pieces was a struggle because I wanted the pattern of the embroidered eyelets and scallops to match on each side and at the side seams.





To the basic pattern, an inverted pleat was added at each underarm and at the center back. Because the smocking added fullness to the front, the back needed some fullness for balance. A single French knot  flower bloomed on the center back pleat.The center front was embellished with smaller, matching French knot flowerettes nestled  between the handworked buttonholes. The loose weave of the fabric seemed more suitable to a hand needle with a single thread than to the bulk of a machine made button hole.




The armholes and neckline were finished with entredeux into which a tiny, simple edge was crocheted.   DMC 30 wt. machine embroidery thread with the same color number as the floss was used. to crochet a tiny, simple edge into the holes of the entredeux.  DMC 30 wt. is no longer available, but I have a hefty supply and use it sparingly.

All things considered, this diaper shirt was a lot more trouble than I expected it would be. And just like babies,  it was more wonderful.

16 responses to “Troublesome Diaper Shirt

  1. Mildred Turner

    Janice, I so love the stories you include about your grandchildren……of course I love also all of your projects. Keep going girl! I still want a book out of you. Love you still…..Mildred

  2. Out of the mouths of babes!

  3. designdreamer

    Oh!!!! I’m so excited to see Mildred Turner posting here!!!! I have all your books and have been a fan from the beginnig.
    Janice, such a sweet diaper shirt.
    And, your dgd’s commnet is sew cute!

  4. I, too, am pleased and flattered that Mildred reads and posts here. Like Elizabeth Travis Johnson, Mildred is a sewing world treasure. She has developed so many invaluable techniques for heirloom sewing and taught more students and more projects than anyone I know. While I always love to hear what she has to say, I love to hear how she says it just as much. No one else makes two syllables out of “can’t” which becomes “cay-ant” or three syllables out of my name Janice which is pronounced “Jay-an-is” in deliciously Southern Mildredese. I am so lucky that she is my friend.

  5. Absolutely precious. And I think I would opt for the solid yellow shorts to bring out the color of the yellow in the smocking design more.

  6. Just my humble opinion but I would suggest the yellow gingham for the shorts. It seems to me that the gingham is used often these days in all sorts of items and that would be in keeping with making it an updated garment.

  7. So, which did you make? How is the timeline going?

  8. Jumping in to say, I love the story! Mr. Osgood’s quote on babies has been my motto this year!! Ben is quickly leaving that stage and working hard to become a toddler. I also love Mildred Turner’s books. I bought my very first piece of buttery yellow lawn with red flowers from her.

  9. Beautiful diaper shirt…. I vote for yellow gingham!

  10. Well, Beckie, as I predicted there have been some happenings since we did the timeline in social studies in 2010. Laurel has done two kiddie triathlons, Robert progressed from a member of the flag football team to its star player, Alastair is a talking machine and Aunt Rebecca is indeed having another baby–in spite of all the trouble the can be! Life is good.

  11. Shirley, Tammy and Connie, I have decided on the gingham, primarily because I have some on hand that is just the right shade of yellow. None of my in stock yellow is right and I am trying soooooo hard not to buy any more fabric. Of course, those super specials at Farmhouse Fabrics have ruined my resolve. But I am trying!

  12. Aside from all the regular, on-schedule trouble, Ben must be so much fun. I love that transitional stage from baby to toddler. Everything is such a marvelous discovery to them.

  13. Absolutely! The fun and “wonderful” far outweigh any trouble. I love watching the developments of new skills and abilities each day.

  14. I am so happy for your family. Another sweet baby girl to sew for. I like the idea of gingham for the bottoms. When I think of or see Laurel I think about us shopping in Puerto Rico for all of those sweet baby clothes. It is hard to believe that she has grown so much. She is such a beautiful little girl.

  15. Thanks, Sue, for sharing our happiness and for the memories. Those baby clothes we bought in Old San Juan for Laurel have been pulled out an re-laundered in readiness for this little one. We did have fun in PR, didn’t we! I miss seeing you, Sue.

  16. Janice
    By now you are probably home. Take it easy for a little while. The babies are going to be with you for a long time. Hope all went well for you with your procedure. Both brother and sister in law had similar procedures and they went great. Take care

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.