My mom gave me this vintage McCalls 1330 Toddler Sun Suit pattern she had, in turn, been given by her mom. I have been hanging onto this pattern for a couple of years now, wanting the perfect fabric that would do justice to the design.
I picked up the Heather Ross for Kokka Nursery Versery at Michael Levine while I was in LA. It’s a fabulous, soft linen in pale pink colorway. The texture, drape, colors, and of course, the sweet Country Mouse theme; this was the fabric McCalls 1330 had been waiting for.
When I first received the pattern from my mom, I remember thinking my grandmother likely made the pattern for my mom, because of the date of the pattern release and the size of the pattern. But when I sat down to sew things up last week, I couldn’t figure out how my math had been so wrong. The pattern is from 1947, my mom was born in 1945. The back of the pattern envelope listed yardage requirements for sizes 6 months through 3 years, and the pattern pieces inside had been cut to the smallest grading. So that would mean things were cut to the 6 months size, right?
I shared all this on my Instagram (#sewastraightline), but I cut everything out and started sewing, and kept thinking, “Wow! This looks big!” I chalked it up to baby patterns from that era being designed to accommodate cloth diapers. But things were looking *really* big. Like fit my four-year-old big. So I grabbed the pattern envelope and looked more closely. Underneath a torn, folded corner I found the size. 3. Three years old, not 6 months. You can totally see the bottom of a “3” up in the picture up there. I just hadn’t looked closely. Good news: that means this pattern really probably was used to make something for my mom! Bad news: no way is my 17lb, 6-12 month-clothing-wearing daughter fitting in a size 3. ugh. So. After a few moments of panic and frustration, I sucked it up and cut all the half-sewn pattern pieces down. And then I added another pair of pleats to the front. All while my daughter slept, without measuring at all. You know, because that always ends well. When she woke up, and I put it on her, I discovered I’d made things too small and she now was dressed like an oompa loompa.
Picked out the stitches securing the bib to the bottom, including the bib facing. Released those extra pleats I had added the night before. Reattached the bib and facing, tacked the waistband back in place. And…
The pleating, though not super practical in baby clothing, is my favorite. I’ll have to iron it, but I can suck up my aversion to that chore in the name of adorableness. I even did handstitching! This is serious, folks. I usually avoid it at all costs. But the leg hems are faced, and I didn’t want the facing peeking out, and didn’t want to detract from the clean lines of the romper’s front with visible stitch lines. Hand-tacked leg facings and crisply-ironed pleats? My mom will be so proud.
To complete the vintage look, I whipped up a sun bonnet out of some scraps of vintage linen, also given to me by Mom (thanks, Mom!). I used the tutorial and pattern from Delia Creates, and it was super fast and easy. And it looks so sweet with the sun suit.
I wonder if my mom had a bonnet to wear with hers 65 years ago? I hope so. Either way, I bet she looked adorable.