Exquisitely Detailed Vintage Baby Dress

circa 1940 organdy baby dress

circa 1940 organdy baby dress

 

The bassinette skirt I’ve been working on is coming along, but it surely takes a lot of time to arrange the designs.  So while I continue working on that,  I thought you might enjoy looking at this sweet baby dress which has so many exquisite details.  It was given to me by a friend but she knew nothing about its history or origin.

The fabric seems to be a soft organdy, if there is such a thing.  It may just be that it’s old and has lost some–but not all–of its crispness.  Labeled Tiny Tots Originals  hand made Philippines, every stitch is done by hand.  I googled Tiny Tots and could only find references to a company by that name in the garment district of New York City.

The search also turned up other Tiny Tots Original garments for sale on etsy or eBay.  The information is not corroborated, but those garments were dated 1940-1960, though every vendor seemed to be giving it their best guess.

But my-oh-my the details!

CONSTRUCTION~  French seams are used throughout.  The exquisitely embellished, scalloped yoke has been hemstitched by hand to the gently gathered skirt.

Throughout the dress, the gathers are gentle–in the skirt, the sleeves and the lace.  I like that.

I’m not a big fan of tight gathers on anything for a baby.  Lace with a 2 or 3 to 1 ratio is very, very difficult to iron and you cannot see the pattern.  Skirts with that sort of ratio, in my humble opinion, seem to overpower a baby.  I once saw a baby cocooned in several yards of fabric and at least as many yards of lace.  My first thought was that there’s got to be a baby in there somewhere!   So I’ve always gathered in moderation.  But that is just my personal preference.  To each his own.

YOKE ~Before the hemstitching was done, the scalloped yoke was finished with a cutwork scallop edge.  Slightly gathered 3/8″ wide French Val lace was whipped to the underside of the cutwork stitches.

 

center yoke

 

Delicate flowers of white organdy have been appliqued in place and further embellished with surface embroidery.

NECKLINE FINISH~ The neckline, bound with self bias that is finished at barely 1/8″,   is hemstitched in place. Lace is joined to the hemstitching.

 

neckline hemstitching

 

PLACKET~The center back opening is very much like Debbie Glenn’s painless placket.    This easy, delicate and tidy application lacks the bulk of a continuous lap placket.

 

placket

 

SLEEVES~As mentioned earlier, the set in sleeves are very slightly gathered.  These gathers are clustered right at the cap, distributed in a short distance on either side of the shoulder seams.

sleeve

I apologize for the poor quality of this picture. Photography is not my strong suit.

There is lovely detail at the sleeve edge.  The single layer cuff was finished with a cutwork scallop, like the one at the yoke then French seamed to the gathered lower sleeve edge. Lace was whipped to the cutwork stitching, echoing the detail on the yoke.

SKIRT TUCKS~ These really have me puzzled.  I was curious about the strip of white batiste appliqued over the tiny skirt tucks.  My first thought was this must have been a cover up for a tear or a stain.  But looking at the underside of the skirt shows no evidence of any damage.  The thread used to whip the strip to the skirt is exactly the same as that used throughout construction, so I doubt it was added later.

On close examination, I can see that the tucks are not very even.  Could they have been a covered up as a quality control measure?  I find it distraction, but could it have been a design element?  What do you think?

tucks

As always with vintage textiles, I wonder about the previous owner(s) and how a precious little dress like this was sold at a yard sale.  I don’t wonder about what I will do with it–Baby Girl #2 will have this in her wardrobe.

Back to the bassinette skirt.  What are you sewing?

19 responses to “Exquisitely Detailed Vintage Baby Dress

  1. Such a pretty little dress. Maybe the white band is suppose to be a modified fancy band. Have you thought about trying to remove it to better show the tiny tucks?

  2. That really is pretty. I love the applique on the yoke. What fabric is that used for the applique? What is the stitch used around the applique? It looks like a hemstitch, by hand? What a lovely design to think about this morning. Thank you for taking the time to write and share about this dress.

  3. Sweet sweet dress. Is the band covering the tucks a different color from the applique? It seems ‘whiter’ in the picture. I agree.. could you remove it? I find it heavy for the delicate dress. I think the tucks were uneven and they tried to cover them up.. but it would look just as well with uneven tucks. IMHO…

  4. Absolutely beautiful dress! I’ve never seen a neck binding hemstitched in place. And all those scallops! I love the look of a handmade baby dress, it looks so soft and old fashioned. What a treasure.

  5. OH MY!! You are at the top of your game, this is so beautiful!!
    Oh…. this grandchild will most certainly be the best dressed!

  6. Penny, the fabric band covering the tucks is white. I’m going to remove it–the uneven tucks are not as objectionable as the band.

  7. Cynthia, neither have I ever seen a neck binding hemstitched in place. The stitches are definitely done by hand, but they are so uniformly perfect! The detail is almost lost with the gathered lace there. I love that teeny tiny neck binding.

  8. Connie, I have to guess that the applique fabric is organdy. It is satin stitched around as both an attachment and a finish so there are no raw edges or even errant whiskers. I’m guessing it’s organdy because it cuts so clean and the texture of the applique and the blue base fabric seem identical in weave.

  9. I really was referring to the scallop shaped stitch on the yoke, but now that looks like faggoting to me. Is that right? Very precious! I have never worked with organdy. That sounds intriguing. As Terri said, you are “at the top of your game!”

  10. Just my guess but that would be that when they wanted to make an “extra special” dress back in the 30’s and 40’s, that they used organdy, though as you suggested, it isn’t exactly the same organdy as we see today. Not the super stiff feel at all but very sheer nevertheless.

  11. My apologies for my questions that were answered within your writing… I promise to slow down. I’m curious about Shirley’s comment on organdy. I also see you have a little pink organdy for sale on your website. Are there better places to obtain organdy than others? Are there any sources that you would recommend?

  12. Beautiful little dress. Would love to just hold such a work of little stitches!

  13. That’s interesting, Shirley, because this does look like a relaxed version of organdy. I have several pieces of vintage organdy for sale which are not super stiff, but still crisper than this little dress. Of course, there are signs of wear on the dress, so perhaps it is just aged from laundering.

  14. Becky, the hemstitching is so perfect that I thought it must be machine-made. But careful inspection shows that it is all done by hand, and done perfectly and delicately.

  15. You just ask any questions you like, Connie. I was confused because the scalloped yoke was hemstitched to the skirt. The hemstitching above those scallops is purely decorative, and yet sooooo soooo perfect! I was awestruck when I double checked with a magnifying glass. As for organdy, in my humble opinion, the Swiss is best, but I have seen very lovely Italian made organdy. The older domestic organdy was pretty good, but I have not seen any newer, currently available products that compare to the older, the Italian or the Swiss. But that doesn’t mean it’s not out there. I just have never seen any. Farmhouse Fabrics, Martha Pullen or any smocking/heirloom shops that carry organdy from Capitol Imports or Bear Thread would be good sources.

  16. What a beautiful little dress! I love all those details – that is what makes the dress just exquisite! I have no idea about the white fabric over the tucks – seems odd. You have a real treasure in this dress. 🙂

  17. This little treasure is stacked up with other good condition vintage baby things to take to Rebecca for Baby Girl. I’m still on the fence about removing the white fabric. It reeeeeally distracts me from the intricate details on the dress. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing it.

  18. I didn’t know how much detail actually went into making these pieces. They are so beautiful. I love everything about them. Thank you for posting this process.

  19. Holly and Eddie, I’m glad you enjoyed seeing this dress. Today with all the wonders of today’s sewing machines, we could make something simmilar, but it would still take a days and even so wouldn’t be the same. Examining vintage pieces like this puts me in a state of wonder.

Leave a Reply

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