A Little Sundress

When I was a young wife and mother I made our clothes.
At first I did not even have a sewing machine, and sewed all the curtains and dress-seams by hand.
I often designed Mary's dresses, and would buy materials in local markets.

When she was about four I made her a winter dress in scarlet wool, with long sleeves and a cream silk collar on which I embroidered holly leaves and red berries.
She looked so pretty, with her fair hair,and it was really soft and warm.

Perhaps my favourite was this sundress in yellow gingham.
Every year Mary had a birthday photo session, and when she was three she wore that dress.
It was made entirely by hand, and was an original design.
It had a separate collar which buttoned on; the buttons became the wheels of two little vans,and the collar prevented her from getting sunburnt.
The construction was very simple.

The width of the gingham was perfect for the length of the sundress.
I took a long strip of the gingham, pleated it so that only the deep yellow squares could be seen, and backstitched it all in place to make the yoke, leaving a tiny frill at the top edge.
This made a firm, slightly stretchy yoke.
I added wide shoulder-straps, and put several tiny tucks at the hemline.

I made a newspaper pattern for the yoke, which was made of white linen and lined and edged with gingham.
I buttonhole-stitched the vans on to the front, and made buttonholes for the yellow button wheels.

I always loved that dress, and of course, like Mary, it was the only one in the whole world!
Even as I write about it, I can remember the pleasure I got in those happy days from making things by hand.

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