Anyone who knows me can tell you that I LOVE babies. I don’t like babies. I don’t tolerate babies. I absolutely adore babies. I often wonder if moms think I’m creepy, because I don’t just glance over at the baby and smile, then return to my business. I will spot a baby and not be able to take my eyes off that baby until it is out of sight. If you hand me a baby to hold, chances are pretty slim that I’m going to hand that baby back any time soon. My dream job would be holding babies all day. In fact, in high school, rather than going out and getting a paying job, I volunteered at the local hospital to rock and cuddle sick babies.
So even though it appears that my own baby-having years are behind me, I am thrilled beyond belief that my younger siblings are all still having babies (my parents’ grandchild total is currently 18 from the six of us kids). By last November, I found out that not one, not two, but all three of my sisters were due to have babies in the ensuing six months. HEAVEN!
Being an avid knitter and crocheter, there was no way I could let this momentus occassion pass without crafting something special for my sisters’ new babies. And while blankets are always the go-to baby item, I wanted to create something with a little more personality. [As an aside, when my first was born over 20 years ago, the lovely ladies at my husband’s family church threw us a baby shower and I recieved well over a dozen handmade blankets. I was not the crafter I am now, back then, and I know that though I did express appreciation, I had no clue how much time and love was put into those items and I sincerely wish I could go back and proffer adequate thanks to each of those lovely ladies.] One little “sticky issue” that I had to work around is that – like myself – none of my sisters follow the mainstream pregnancy protocols, including things like prenatal ultrasounds to determine the baby’s gender. So whatever I chose to make would not only have to be knitted after the baby was born, but would also depend on the baby’s gender for the final design. I opted to make a top of some sort for each new baby, with the idea that once I knew if it was a boy or a girl, I could quickly pick the color and then either make a sweater or a dress.
I had recently finished my first sweater (thanks to Tin Can Knits and their fabulous Flax sweater pattern and incredibly thorough “Let’s Make a Sweater” Tutorial), and figured that for any boy, I would simply use that pattern and perhaps add some kind of design to the front panel of the sweater. But seeing how versatile that pattern is (it can be made for anyone from newborn size all the way up to 4XL), I wondered if it might be possible to create a homemade baby dress for any girl that came along, using a similar format.
After a few false starts, I finally managed to design a baby dress pattern that is versatile, fairly quick to knit up, and thanks to Expression Fiber Arts‘ new ‘Luster’ Superwash Merino Tencel blend sport-weight yarn, can be machine washed.
Which is a good thing, because in November, January, and May, I was thrilled to become aunt to three new nieces! (That puts the grandkid count at 7 boys, 11 girls!)
As you can see from the photos, the dress has a few different versions. Though I went off the same basic design, I chose to make slight modifications for each niece so they would have something unique to them. Further, as I live quite a distance from two of my nieces, I had the “opportunity” to expand the pattern to a few sizes when, in February, I went to visit my nearby sister and niece born in November at the same time my parents were visiting. Holding my niece, my dad proclaimed that the three-month-old was the same size as my niece that had been born in January. Given that my November niece was just-then fitting into the dress I had made for her, I knew that there was no way my January niece was going to fit into her dress by the time I finished it, if she was growing that quickly. So I ripped out the partially-made second dress and messed around with the sizing a bit until I came up with a dress that should fit most babies between 6-9 months. Also, seeing the first dress ON my November niece for the first time, I wasn’t thrilled with the neckline, so I redesigned that for the second and third dress. And given that my third niece was born in May, I decided to go with shorter sleeves for a more summery look.
My intention is to also create a pair of “bloomers” to go with the dress, as it is rather short, and as a mom of 2 girls, I have never been a fan of baby tights. Not having a resident baby to try things on, I’m working through quite a bit of trial and error on those, so that pattern will be released separately.