Better-Late-Than-Never Baby Dresses!

Friends, I’m gonna let you in on one of my ugliest, dirtiest secrets. I hate sewing things for babies.

I can feel the searing rays of your judgment! But let me explain– baby clothes are fiddly to make, fit for about 10 minutes, and are the object of more puke than toilets in a freshman dorm. It’s a lot of work for very little payoff! Plus, many babies are showered with so many tiny outfits when they could probably use a big box of Pampers much more than another cardigan!

But, when old, dear friends have babies, even the grumpiest baby grinch is occasionally tempted to dabble in the world of tiny clothes, hence these little dresses. I knew that I wanted something pretty and sweet, but I didn’t want to go completely pastel for these dresses. I found a nice compromise in these beautiful 100% cotton shirtings from Mood Fabrics NYC. The combination of gingham and stripes is cute for a tot, and the fabrics are much more soft and luxurious than you usually see in children’s wear. Another benefit is that cotton shirting is tough enough to take a beating in the laundry.  Plus, it doesn’t take much to make garments this small, so you can get a little fancy with your fabric. I had just over half a yard of each fabric and was able to make two dresses.

I used Made By Rae‘s downloadable Geranium dress pattern, which comes with about a zillion options.  I opted for cut-on cap sleeves and a pleated skirt. The bodice is fully lined, and I turned and stitched the center back seam and used French seams on the sides (I’ve heard that serging can be too scratchy for sensitive baby skin). The bodice has a back button closure– not sure how easy this is to get babies in and out of. Any feedback, moms and dads?  This was really easy to put together, although the directions were a little complicated to follow as they jumped back and forth between the different views, so I occasionally lost my place.  I’m sure someone more organized than myself would have no issues with this, though.

Although I wasn’t eager to make these, I found myself smiling as I stitched on the adorable buttons (a gift from Marie that I’m so glad I saved until now!) and put the finishing touches on the dresses. There’s just something so sweet about itty-bitty clothes! I really like how these turned out, and I caught myself planning future versions in blue, yellow, and gray combos. But before you think I’ve turned into Santa Claus overnight, you should probably know that I made these in the 12-18 month size… because it’s been a while since these little girls were born. Better late than never, right?

What’s your opinion of homemade baby gifts? A sweet potential heirloom? Better saved for older kids who are interested in what they wear? Tacky? Treasured? What’s the nicest handmade baby gift you’ve given or received?

Sidenote: I discovered the hazards of photographing finished projects outdoors– my neighbor spotted me shooting these, and before I knew what was happening, I heard myself agreeing to make a dress for her granddaughter! Whoops!  Guess I better get used to making clothes for small people!

108 responses

  1. Gorgeous! I agree though, wait till they’re older and stop growing so fast. Also the sizing is strange. I made some newborn size things for my niece and they only fit now she is five months. Love the colour and print combinations on these dresses.

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  2. Aww, I love how they aren’t too stereotypically cutesy, but still cute. I’m there with you on making things for babies. I sewed one niece a cute outfit and knit each of our nieces & nephews something when they were born. But I never really was sure if any of it was appreciated or worn (in the case of garments), so I am a selfish grinchy aunt and don’t make things any longer. lol (Though admittedly my one SIL who sews a bit has twice told me how great the outfit I made her daughter was, a few years later, which did feel great!)

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    • I had a hard time picking out fabrics! I didn’t want anything too pastel, and you can’t find “baby” fabrics in the Garment District anyway, but I’m pretty happy with these colors.

      Can I make another confession? I haven’t made a THING for my 10-month-old nephew! Isn’t that awful?!

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  3. these are very cute. The thing that puts me off making baby clothes is how quickly babies grow… it hardly seems worth the effort! That said, I still have a teeny tiny sweater that my granny’s best friend knit for me when I was a baby – probably wore it few a month, but I’ve treasured it since.

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  4. Oh cute! Thanks for the pattern link too, will check that out as it looks like a great practical style.
    Am sure the dresses will be used and loved. When people know that you sew they’re disappointed if you ever don’t make a present!

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  5. these are adorable! cute but not *too* cute as baby clothes sometimes can be. i still have not sewed for tiny people yet, but they seem to me like great selfless projects: very little fabric, no fitting to worry about, an excuse to use ric-rac…

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  6. They are cute! I haven’t made a whole lot in the way of baby clothes–I did make a fleece hoodie for a friend who, along with her husband, is WAY into camping and backpacking. And I’m sure it’s worn out by now, since that was for her firstborn and she’s had 3 boys by now! I usually make bibs for my friends, or hoodie towels or things like that. Stuff where the sizing doesn’t matter so much. But I’m sure I’ll venture more into baby clothes whenever I have kids of my own. (Or whenever my sister-in-law gets pregnant, because I decided ages ago that I’d have to make a bunch of black band onesies. You know, baby clothes that my rocker brother would actually approve of!) So I think it depends on who you’re making them for, but they could be a really great use of fabric that might otherwise go to waste, since you don’t need much!

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  7. They turned out very cute! I usually give handmade clothing as a gift for newborns. I always make something that they will be able to wear after 6-12 months or so. Exactly for your reasons. Parents will usually already have too many items in the very small newborn sizes and if I take the time to make something the baby should be able to wear it more than once.

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  8. They are so sweet, what a great pair! Handmade items are fab gifts although I do agree on not really making much for the really young ones, they truly do grow so quick. Having said that, I’m just about to hook into some dresses for my (almost) 4yo – I guess it depends on the growth rate of the child!

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  9. I keep thinking I want to make dresses for my nieces, but they are 2-4 years old and opinionated about their clothes already. So I’m scared 😉 I adore these dresses though Sonja! I love the fabric combo. If I was the mommy receiving them, I would be stoked. What a beautiful gift!!

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  10. Aw, so cute! I haven’t done any sewing for babies for exactly the reasons you’ve stated – too fiddly and they don’t fit them for long! But, I’ve done some knitting for babies – because they’re so small you can get a whole sweater done in no time!!!

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    • You’re so right– it’s way more fun to knit for babies! I started knitting, before I could sew, because I had so many baby showers to go to! It’s so fun to make little bitty sweaters!

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  11. So cute! But I agree 100% about sewing for babies – I set an infant size sleeve in once and have vowed never again! Diaper bags (for the mom) or a knit blanket or stuffed animal has been my go-to for baby gifts lately.

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  12. These. are. perfect. I hate it when everything for girls is pink and frilly and lacey (don’t get me wrong, each of those has its place, but all together…always…? ugh!).
    I think baby-stuff that isn’t baby-clothes is more likely to get used a lot. Baby blankets, bibs, diaper bags, etc.

    BUT DUDE. What about cloth diapers?? I plan on making some of my own if/when I end up Le Preggers somewhere down the road. But neither I nor any of my friends are really in the having-babies-on-purpose stage of life just yet.

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  13. How cute! But I totally hear you about not enjoying making baby clothes. As far as handmade baby gifts I always go with blankets (even quilts are too much effort, unless they are for my own nephews!) because they are quick and always welcomed.

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  14. naaw, they’re really cute! I made loads of dresses & dungarees for my girls. Tip – dungarees are more practical for crawling babes. And they can be just as pretty. I loved that I could make something for the kids out of very, very little fabric. Not so anymore! 🙂

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  15. Lol! Aren’t you generous! By the way, tell your neighbour something’s come up and you can’t do it! Lol! People try to force you to make stuff for their wee ones without shame! This lady I barely know tried multiple times to wheedle me into knitting stuff for her baby but I was all “straight up, I’m busy making stuff for me. You should learn to knit! ” lol! I have no interest in sewing baby stuff right now for the reasons you mentioned. Yours are really cute though. If your friend treasures the effort it’s worth it 🙂

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    • That’s part of my dilemma– the last two baby gifts I made weren’t even acknowledged by the recipients! I have no idea if they packages even arrived… for all I know, some postal employee’s chihuahua might be wearing the sweater I made for my friend’s kid! So I was feeling a little hesitant to make more handmade gifts when I’m not sure if people really care about them. :/

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  16. These are adorable! I also don’t like sewing for babies. I rarely even sew for my own kids until they’re old enough to wear it more than a month.

    The perk of dresses like this though is that they will get a couple years of wear. First as a dress, then a tunic and then a top since kids this age tend to grow up rather than out 🙂

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  17. Cute as a button!
    Buttons at the back are ok if they are older – which these ones are so these dresses will be great for them!
    I have never been keen on making clothes for kids but, like you, was surprised to find myself loving it when I made a teeny tiny shirtdress for my niece. So damn cute!!!

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  18. Awesome print and colour combo, I’m wishing I could get away with it… But yes, cute as they are I hate sewing for little people as well. Fiddly seams and, well, they won’t even be aware of the work that went into them. I’m a baby grinch, I’m afraid.

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    • I bet there’s a way that you could pull it off! 😀 But yeah, I find that most people don’t appreciate handmade garments that much– I think they assume I spit them out of the machine in 10 minutes or something.

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  19. No hate rays here! The stuff worn in the first year gets some serious abuse for a short time period so I can understand the reluctance! I’m only just considering sewing boy clothes now and he’ll be 4 in January!
    But these dresses are also seriously cute and Katie has a great point that they have the potential to evolve as the little miss grows!
    Having said that I have a sneaking suspicion that if anyone close has a little girl I will be sorely tempted to sew something similar!

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    • It’s sort of sad that it’s more fun to sew girl clothes than boy ones! Although I did pick out some fun dinosaur-print jersey for my nephew… which reminds me– need to get cracking on that!

      Can’t wait to see what you make for Boy! I always love seeing photos of him– he is SO cute!

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  20. I love them…they are so sweet! I like the idea of handmade baby clothes as gifts but more for age 12 months upwards as the kids don’t grow quite so fast or hopefully be sick quite so much! I do however, like handknitted cardigans and hats for little babies or little sewn shoes.

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  21. They’re undeniably adorable!

    I totally get you on the lots-of-work-for-very-little-quality-wearing-time. But the compliments you get on them must go a long way towards making them worth your while, surely.

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    • You know, I think I’m just a little bitter because the last two handmade baby gifts I made were never acknowledged by the recipients. It made me wonder if, in all the chaos of adjusting to a new baby, they were just stuffed in a drawer and later Goodwilled without ever being worn… silly, I know, but I did think about that.

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  22. Back buttons are good. I like them because baby can’t see them and try to pull them off. Just my two cents. Very cute dresses! And yes, I am totally judging you for not liking to make baby clothes 🙂 Ha! Just kidding.

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  23. These dresses are just so darned cute. I have been considering making baby clothes for the new moms that I know but I hadn’t gotten around to finding any patterns. Thanks for introducing made by rae!

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  24. Sonja! These are so freaking adorable, my gosh. I’m with you on the hating making baby clothes (mostly just with the sleeves, they’re too small to fit around the arm of my sewing machine and just, ugh! Most annoying process ever) but these turned out so well!! I never would have guessed you hated it. I love the adorable buttons and the pleats of course. haha and I laughed when you said that last part about your neighbor. So true, isn’t it? It’s like sewing skills are almost the kiss of death sometimes because you find yourself agreeing to make things for every. single. person. you. know. ha know how that is girl!

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    • Yikes, baby-sized sleeves just seem terrible! And DUDE– I’m so with you! I have a to-do list a mile long, and I just keep adding more projects to it! I have two shirts for my sister, a cardigan for my dad, a dress for my mom, and now the neighbor’s dress waiting for me… yikes!

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  25. I totally get the cons to making baby stuff, but they come out so tiny and cute! I love these dresses so much and will defo make a couple for some friends who are expecting! I’m also really happy that you used the buttons I sent you for these…adorable ;o)

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  26. Totally adorbs. Perfect choice of fabric for style and practicality. I really love receiving handmade baby gifts, almost as much as giving them. The sewing is so quick with such small garments anyway. Sometimes I like to practice or learn new or tricky techniques on baby clothes because the stakes are lower and the time/money investment is less.

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  27. I love making baby dresses as presents! I like that they take barely any fabric and I can pick out super cute fabric that I love, but am too old to wear. I have a few go-to patterns that are super quick to sew, so I don’t feel like I spent so much time making something that they barely get to wear!

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  28. Oh my goodness! These are so darling! I have a friend’s baby shower to go at the end of the month and I probably should make dresses for the babe too! I normally give them a box of diapers, so this might be cuter.Thanks for the tips, I didn’t realize that serging the seams would irritate the baby skin. Oops!

    I hear you about making baby clothes that they easily grow out of and dirty, but they’re so cute.

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  29. These are so cute! I love making baby clothes for about the same reasons you hate it – puke excepted. Its so nice to make something that doesn’t involve hauling huge amounts of fabric around, that get done quickly, where fit is such a guesswork issue you’re off the hook if it doesn’t work out, and most of all because, with a huge gifted wardrobe and no hang ups about his/her figure, a babe will love anything you put him/her in equally.

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    • Right?! I need to practice an “I’m too busy” response (because I actually am!) so I’m prepared ahead of time, I think! But I do love sharing my love of sewing with other people. 🙂

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  30. Awww, so cute! I like making baby stuff because it’s so tiny, but a couple things a year are enough. I’m not that unselfish! Certainly not unselfish enough to agree to make something for a neighbor!

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    • It’s so hard to dedicate so much time to things for other people! But I gave one of the dresses to one set of parents today and they really liked it, so it was totally worth the time spent.

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  31. Squee! Too cute!
    But let’s real talk a sec- last time I made a pair of cute 70s print booties and bloomers the wee munchkin had grown out of them in a week. I’m not kidding here. But for that week- adorbs!

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  32. Haha, I’m with you. I thought it would be cool to sew undies out of all my scraps for my friend’s kids. My knit scraps and elastic stash is out of hand so it needs to go somewhere. She took me to their underwear drawer and there were THOUSANDS of pairs. Of course there were, duh. I don’t know if it would have felt like a gift or another thing to have in the pile. Right then and there I decided baby and kid sewing was not for me unless I have my own. I also just had my first experience of a (very casual) acquaintance asking, “you made that? will you make me one?” (A t-shirt.) I wasn’t sure how to respond!

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  33. Some how I missed this. There are super cute dresses.
    I like making handmade present or buying handmade presents for gifts. For babies I tend to make sets of “items that are squared or regular and washable” hehe

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  34. Super cute. Love the colour and that they can be worn repeatedly i.e not a party dress.

    I love personalised gifts!! You saw my first sewn baby gift – the quilt (http://peppermintandpaisley.com/2013/08/06/covered-with-the-word-baby-quilt-pt-ii/) – and I loved making it. I think things like that are more heirloom-y.

    It never occurred to me to make baby clothes until recently when a friend asked if I made them. He was looking for some for his daughter using Nigerian fabrics. Plus a lot of mu friends now have babies so it may be fun. What I worry about it comfort for babies and their sensitive skin, etc but I am probably over thinking things. Cotton breathes.

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  35. So so sweet and perfectly unfussy, your friend (and neighbour) will be chuffed! I’m on the fence about sewing for babies too, I think it’s a lovely stage of life when you can get away with wearing only onesies!

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  36. I acctually really like making clothes for kids. Since they are so much smaller it is much faster. I make alot for my sons and usually one or two sizes to big so they last longer 🙂
    And those dresses are really cute!

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  37. Ha ha! I like that you’ve been roped in to making more baby clothes! I’ve never sewn baby clothes, but I have knitted jumpers for my little nieces (which is very satisfying because they are so small!). Maybe I should branch out, although I’m a little worried after reading this post…! They look really beautiful though and I’m sure they’ll look extremely cute on!

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