I am so very excited to be joining in with Jess from Craftiness is Not Optional and Kristin from Skirt as Top for their annual Vintage May! So excited! I have actually been planning on making this little McCall’s sunsuit for Ivy anyway, so the timing was perfect.
A vintage pattern, some charcoal linen, and red embroidery. Throw in some chickens and a darling little girl I happen to know. Vintage May!
The pattern is McCall’s1330 Toddlers’ Sunsuit, c. 1947. This pattern came to me from my grandmother, via my mom, who would have been the toddler my grandmother sewed this for. It’s pretty special to me. I love thinking of my grandmother sewing this, and then my mom as a little toddler wearing her little sunsuit.
The only change I made was to the leg openings. I did a scalloped satin-stitch edging to them, instead of the hand-stitched facing the pattern uses. I wanted to bring more of the red stitching into play, and it was so, so SO much faster to do than blind stitching facing around the legs.
View B has a clean front, with the straps fastening in the back at two hidden buttons on the inside of the waistband.
I could not get my camera to focus on the button here. For some reason, it just wanted to highlight that spot just to the right. Weird. But anyway, see the blurry button on the inside of the waistband? There are two of them, for each strap. And they’re also vintage, from a jar of buttons my mom gave me.
It’s pretty and delicate and innocent and delightfully ‘40s.
Some off-the-model shots so you can better see the pleats and the overall look of the sunsuit.
The bum is really baggy. I guess to accommodate large cloth nappies. But even then. Huge. I think I’ll probably try to bring the center crotch seam up just a bit in the back, to keep the bum flap to a minimum. But the front. Oh! How I adore the front! I love the crispness of the pleats, and then that embroidery is just my very favorite. Modern patterns really should come with embroidery transfers more often, don’t you think?
Because I treasure this pattern as I do, I want to preserve it as much as I can. I didn’t want to use the transfer paper by ironing it onto my fabric, even though I know you can usually get a few uses out of it. I also didn’t want to iron onto my fabric because I was using dark fabric and I was afraid the transfer markings wouldn’t show. So what can you do instead of ironing the transfer paper? Trace!
I have a light box, but you can also tape your transfer paper to a sunny window. Then tape some tear-away embroidery stabilizer (affiliate link) on top of the transfer paper. Then just trace out the design onto the matte side of the paper.
You can also just make your own designs to embroider this way.
And stitch away! I don’t have an embroidery machine, and I didn’t want to take the time to do all that design by hand. So I did it on my regular sewing machine. I used a thick stitch, on my machine it’s that C button. If you don’t have a thick stitch, you can use a zig-zag set at the very smallest length. It just won’t get as much detail. Or you could use a regular straight stitch and not get quite the “pop” of embroidery. But I have a thick stitch, so lucky me!
You can lower the feed dogs, if you want, to have total control of where the stitches are going. But I just went slow and left my feed dogs up, gently pulling the fabric to where I wanted the stitches to go along my tracings.
Just go slow, and follow your traced lines. If you have a “needle-down” feature on your machine, use it. If you don’t, just be sure to lower the needle into the fabric before lifting to turn as you go around your designs.
Just keep on stitching!
Then tear away the stabilizer and admire your work!
For the outside edges of the sunsuit, I used a scallop satin stitch my machine has pre-programmed. I’ve done the same technique when I’ve made handkerchiefs.
You just do the decorative satin stitch all around, then cut close to the stitches. It looks pretty, and is actually really durable. I’ve washed and dried my handkerchiefs probably hundreds of times now, and the satin-stitched edges are still going strong! (see the hankie tutorial HERE)
Beautiful embroidered detail in a fraction of the time and without needing a fancy-pants machine. And my almost-70-year-old pattern is still in great condition, including the embroidery transfers.
Maybe I’ll even get to pass the pattern onto Ivy to sew for her own toddler one day.
From my grandmother to my mom to me to my daughter. A pretty great legacy for a little sunsuit pattern.
Sunsuit: Vintage McCall’s 1330 c. 1947 Toddlers’ Sunsuit, fabric is linen blend from Jo-Ann Stores
Sandals: Salt Water Sandals by Hoy Shoe The Original Sandal (affiliate link)
Special thanks to my sister for letting us use her beautiful garden and chickens for our photoshoot.