Sunday, September 27, 2009

Experiments in Construction and Composition

Magic Baby reversible overalls experiment

I am swimming in experiments. This past week, as I try to design my fall and winter etsy line, I finished up my first reversible overalls prototype. The design is very cute, with two bodices to play with and a cute crossed back strap.
I pieced one side using a recycled wide wale corduroy blouse and some fun, striped cotton upholstery left over from making pillow case edges years ago.
On the reverse, I used a decorator-weight cotton sateen in light blue, and added pockets lined with the stripe.

As cute as the design came out, there are some problems I discovered while testing out my ideas. First of all, there is no leg opening (think snap tape for babies) for ease of diaper changes. To change the design would require some simple re-drafting. Secondly, with the back bodice design including built-in crossed straps, the shoulder tabs would need to be lengthened in order for me to make them adjustable. The gathering into the bodice is adorable, but perhaps not great for a boys design, which would look better with pleats. Most importantly, viewed from the light of my non-mass-production of these for retail sale, there are too many adaptations to be made and corrected for size. I decided it will be easier to work with a different pattern design altogether, so I am preparing to try Magic Baby Reversible Overalls Prototype #2 today.

A few weeks ago, in another composition experiment, I pulled out flannel scraps left over from making Magic Baby Snuggle Blankies. I have always been frugal in most aspects of my life; needless to say, I was not going to let those exquisite scraps go to waste, especially when baby clothing requires so little fabric. My first step was to cut off any selvedges from the scraps, then rotary cut them into strips and squares, which were stacked together in a box. Piecing the strips together, I could make matching snuggly cuddly reversible jackets for the Snuggle Blankies. It was easy to add little tags of ribbon into the seams, keeping everything very soft, and snippets of trim to the fold-up cuffs. After turning the jacket right side out, I inserted a scrap of pre-gathered satin pink ruffle into the bottom edge.

Magic Baby Cuddle Jacket Prototype, front
The biggest challenge in this design, as is the case in many of my designs, is coming up with a unique closure that is also functional. For the jacket, I inserted a piece of medium gauge, round elastic into bias tape, gathered it and measured the length before inserting it in between the front and reverse jacket sections. Next, since I don't want to be buying tons of buttons, and because buttons can pop off, I created a "soft" button using ribbon blanket trim satin stitched over a cut-down cosmetic sponge, and stitched in place with an "X" of embroidery floss.

This design was fast, easy, and, in my mind, a complete success. I have the pattern worked out from NB to 4T, and plan to make jackets that also match my fall pinwale corduroy designs of my Magic Baby Dresses.

I am still working on prototypes for my "story clothes", completing a hand-quilted baby quilt in the evenings (almost done!), making new TagTalk cards, and finishing a girls dress for a friend who gave me two bags of fabric.
I am an artist, so why am I spending so much time designing baby clothes? There are several answers to this question: a) I need to earn a regular income, and baby clothes sell faster than artwork b) I am a grandmother, and like making things for babies c) It's fun and challenging. Granted, I have had to put my current book project on hold, and don't have as much time in the studio to make artwork. Coming in my next blog post, though, is a challenging artists project I am part of, Compositional Conversations. Check out the link to see what it is about. I will be adding my contributions next week.
My new granddaughter, Madison, wearing her MagicBaby Cuddle Jacket.


  1. The clothing is beautiful but your little Madison is the delight of your whole blog. They will grow so quickly but to cuddle this small spirit wrapped in softest fabrics and ruffles is the greatest pleasure to behold. Little Miracles amongst us in our earthly homes and hearts. Embrace the moment and Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  2. As always, you hit the nail on the head, so to speak! As fun as it is to create these little designs, it is absolutely delightful to do just as you describe: cuddle this new life, and wrap her up in my love.

  3. Ahhh... that makes sense about the overalls, though they really are so cute! I can't wait to see what the next experiment yields;). And I love those fuzzy coats!!!!! When did Madison turn into a little toe head???? ;)