Alysha’s Birthday Dress


Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you who has mothered a child of your own or a child of another. (Frankly, I cannot imaging anyone who sews or reads this blog who has not reached out to children and grandchildren of their own and/or others.) The love and attention showered on our precious children is the best use of our precious time.

I’m at that happy time of life when I can enjoy my beloved adult children as well as the beloved grandchildren they have given us. My daughter Rebecca and daughter-in-law Shelly are both incredible, wonderful mothers whom I admire and love dearly. I wish each of you a happy day filled with appreciation from and for your loved ones.

Around here it has been busy, busy, BUSY!!!! We’ve been blessed with almost back to back and overlapping visits from our four grandchildren and even more happy chaos.  In a future post I’ll tell you all about Laurel’s luau 9th birthday party, new fleece blankets for each grandchild and the progress of our newly tamed feral cats and the kittens.

So once again, I am rerunning an old post, though I do have a few new thoughts and plans.  I hope  to make a very similar dress for new granddaughter Vivian Rose before her first birthday.  FYI, Alysha is almost 5, adorable and the apple of her grandparents’ eyes.



Busy as we grandmothers are sewing for our own little ones, we often are moved to stitch for another child.  I’m sure most of you readers have done the same.  It’s satisfying to share you love of needlework with another family.

Alysha is our God-daughter’s first baby, as well as the first grandchild of our dear, dear friends of 30+ years, Gale and Paul.  As Alysha’s first birthday approached, I wanted to do something special for this very special baby.



With a lengthy to-do project list, I chose another ready-to-smock garment, a size 2 white  broadcloth bishop dress.  Though I knew I could smock it up in an evening or two and fully intended to do so, I found myself once again compelled to do a little more.


Even though the tiny sleeve hem was well done, before smocking, I took it out and added tatting to the edges.



Mollie Jane Taylor’s Buds and Berries

Then I chose a simple plate, Mollie Jane Taylor’s Bud’s and Berries.  I’ve smocked it two or three times, once for my Rebecca when she was little and it always is very pleasing.  It would have been smocked very quickly if I had simply followed the pattern and done enough rows for a one year-old.

But Alysha is a big little girl, tall and sturdy, 32 lbs. at her 1st birthday check up.   That meant that  I could smock more rows on her dress than I normally would have for a one year old.   But I always like to make sure that the sleeves puff out before the edge of the child’s shoulder.  So I did what I usually do,  smock fewer rows after the sleeve seams than in the center front and back.


Mother of pearl buttons replaced the plastic “utility” buttons.


The next modification was my compulsory button replacement, mother of pearl for plastic.  After that, I removed the ready-to-smock label, as usual, because it is stiff and scratchy to tender baby skin.  Sewn to this label is a tag with the identifying size.  As the label is usually sewn on with the neck binding, you cannot simply pull out the stitches.  To do so would “unsew” the neck binding.  The label itself  it has to be cut close to the stitching and the remaining threads and  fibers pulled out with tweezers.  This is not time consuming.

I could have sewn the size tag in the side seam, the procedure I usually follow for older children.  But instead I  embroider a tiny “sz. 2″ on a white ribbon which I sew into the side seam.  Finally, I turned up the hem.   The ready-to-smock dresses are generously long, so rather than cutting off the excess, I just turn up a double 4-5” hem.  Because it is a bishop and because it has the generous hem, it should fit Alysha until she is three years old.

One tip I have for beginning smockers is to always select ribbon for sleeves before you choose the floss colors.  It is ever so much easier to select ribbon first and then match it to  floss from the broad spectrum of DMC colors before smocking rather than it is to smock first and then try to find a ribbon match.

Alysha looks adorable in this dress.She has the most kissable cheeks and squeezable legs.  It’s nice to have my friends’ grandchildren to enjoy as well as my own.

NOTE:  I thought the dress looked so pretty hanging from my Lady Margaret passion vine, a favorite with butterflies.  But when I brought the dress back inside, there were purple stains everywhere it had touched the blossoms.  Thank heavens for bleach pens. Lesson learned. No more passion vine garment pictures.

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