7.24.2014

For Our Baby: Newborn Gowns and Top Knot Hats

{Edited to add: Unfortunately, these gowns did not fit my daughter well at the neckline.  You can see how they fit here.  But I really loved the concept of sewing newborn gowns for my baby, so I self-drafted a pattern.  A friend asked that I make it available so I did.  You can find it here and it's free.  Oh and the top knot hats were too big, too.  :/)

I hadn't done much sewing for our new baby this time around.  The truth is, I did a lot of sewing during my pregnancy with Iris and so much of it didn't fit.  I sewed a lot from Handmade Beginnings then, but it's so hard to ensure proper fit when you don't have baby's measurements.  (Though the fit of this dress which I made for toddler Tarikua was perfect!)  I spent hours on these sleep sacks which we never used.  Our babies haven't been great solo sleepers (understatement)  and the sleep sacks were too warm for sleeping next to Dan and me.  Because our baby is due in the middle of the summer, a baby quilt seemed impractical.  I instead opted for these gauzy blankets which I hope will make great nursing covers, too.

After Indigo and I took inventory of what we had, I noticed a shortage of newborn gowns.  I love gowns, mostly for their convenience during middle of the night diaper changes.  And they work so well when the baby is in that newborn frog legs stage where their legs are often curled up.  (Oh, I love that stage so much!).  Indigo and I went thrifting and almost everything we found was either pink or polyester.  I decided to look around for a pattern and make my own.  I used this pattern, with a few alterations.


newborn gowns

Each gown sews up in about an hour.  (I timed it!)  Be forewarned that you are supposed to add a 1/4" seam allowance to the pattern.  It's even added to the center seam (on the fold) which I have never seen before.  I was wary that the fit might not come out right, so I compared the pattern pieces to some of the newborn gowns I own.  I added a 1/2" in width to each of the pattern pieces.  [If you do this, don't forget to add it to the sleeves, too, or they won't fit together correctly.  I learned that one from experience.]  ;)   My babies have all been 8-8 1/2 lbs and grow out of their newborn clothes so quickly.  I want these gowns to last awhile.

The first gown looked a little narrow in the leg areas, especially in the photos of the baby here.   The front and back pattern pieces are completely straight from underarm to hem.

newborn gown in woodland party birch knit

So for my next two gowns, I added an A-line shape to the gown like this.

newborn gown pattern modification

I also added bias binding to the sleeves rather than hemming them.

When sewing knits, I like to use a long straight stitch first, followed by a stretch stitch when I'm sure everything looks right.  I especially like to do this when making something for the first time because my stretch stitches are so hard to rip out.

newborn gown and top knot hat

Being I added extra width to the pattern pieces, I did have to increase the length of my bias binding to about 10".  The front uses more than the back, because the neck curve is deeper.  To apply it, I stretched the binding ever so slightly.  When adding it to the back, I had about a 1/2" of excess binding which I trimmed off.

newborn gown and top knot hat

I like to increase my stitch length when sewing knits, especially when the fabric is thick.  When sewing the bindings to the neckline, my stitch length was almost at 4.  I love the finish of the envelope neckline and it's actually so easy.

envelope neckline


I also wanted a kimono style gown in the mix.  I drafted this based on one of Iris's former newborn kimono style gowns.

kimono style newborn gown

I don't normally sew with pink (I'll call this peach) ;) and this is really a wearable muslin.  I used a cheap, thin knit to experiment, but it worked out well in this case because the kimono front is two layers thick.  If I had used a more substantial knit, it may have been too warm for our summers.

kimono newborn gown

I couldn't resist making a few newborn top knot hats, too.  I used this {free} pattern by Prudent Baby.  These are so easy - I timed it (again!) and each hat took 8 minutes, including the time it took to press the seams really well.

prudent baby top knot hats 
My friend Carolyn gave me the advice to press the heck out of the seam to avoid wavy hems that can be so common with knits.  That works for me every time.

I've had some issues with my hem stitching breaking on my sewn knits, after they've been washed/worn several times.  I've considered trying stretch thread, but it's expensive.  Both patterns instructed that I stretch the knit while sewing.  That seems to be a controversial point when sewing knits.  Some people say to stretch the fabric, others say to never stretch it.  I decided to try stretching it this time and see if my hems hold up better this way.  Do you have any tips for me?

newborn gown

The three non-'peach' knits are seriously amazing!  The Birch fabric knit was especially fantastic, but all three were so great!  I bought them here.

newborn gown in woodland party knit by birch fabrics 
I really enjoyed this project.  It was so special and fun to make these tiny creations for our new baby.  I also think these gowns would make a great baby gift!  So easy, too!

24 comments:

  1. omigosh these are soooooo cute! i can't wait to see your new little gal froggy-legging it up in them! so close now. ah newborns...

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  2. Oooooh so sweet!
    I am in the 'stretch while you sew' camp. But I am not an experienced knit girl.

    I am getting so excited for you!

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  3. How gorgeous!!! I love them!!

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  4. These gowns are so cute I don't even know what to say! The fabrics are perfect and the little matching hats? I think my ovaries are aching :)

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  5. I must say I've never seen baby gowns like these, I don't think they are common in Europe. But they look sooooo cute, and I bet they're the easiest thing for diaper changing. I love it!

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  6. Oh. Em. Gee. So cute! Wherever did you get these fantastic fabrics?! And oh so cute it almost hurts. I'm pretty sure I just dropped an egg. Owww.

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  7. so so cute Rachel ! I love the last farbic so much! and those cute hats!! you did a great job! I am so frightened of knits!

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  8. So envious of your ability to sew! And, Asher is already 6 weeks old and I just said I feel like my newborn days are already over....he is getting so big! :( You will LOVE the blankets you got...I got them last time around when Tanner was our summer baby and they remain my absolute favorite swaddler/nursing cover/everything blanket ever!

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  9. Making me very nostalgic, and slightly broody....love teeny babies so much...

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  10. Those are absolutely lovely! You are very smart to sew something that fits for a long while. Our kids both wore those sacks each night for quite some time. And those blankets are still favorites around here, 4+ years after getting them for E.

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  11. These are so cute - I love the knit prints you found. I loved having night gowns when my babies were tiny too. I'm sure these will get lots of use.
    For knit hems, have you tried using a twin needle? I do that for all my t-shirt hems and cuffs now, and the zigzag stitch at the back seems to stop the hem snapping.

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    1. Thanks for this suggestion, Suzy! I do use a double needle. I think I need to loosen the tension on the bobbin. I think it may be too tight, causing the hem to break? I'm going to try that next!

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  12. These are lovely, and while I don't get clucky (not so good with <1 year olds myself) I am very excited for you.
    I've been using "woolly nylon" in the bobbin for knit hems to prevent breaking. If you get a medium grey then it is fine for nearly all fabrics. Although I have bought black, white, brown etc, so that may not be quite true.....
    I'm with Suzy. A double needle, loose bobbin thread tension, and woolly nylon and you get a pretty indestructible hem.

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  13. So sweet! I always loved baby gowns when my were little. I recently sewed up a couple of baby gowns for a friend along with some baby hats. They are so fun and quick to sew, it made me wish that I sewed as much as I do now when I had babies ;)

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  14. I guess we french are living in a cave : i've never heard about "baby gowns" ! Anyway, it looks like it's very easy to sew and tu use. And your fabrics are amazing even if i must admit to be still anxious about knit.

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    1. Eva Maria said the same thing - that these aren't common in Europe. Oh we love them. They're a couple inches longer than baby's legs, so they stay warm and cozy inside. The only thing they aren't good for is car rides, because you can't buckle them in well - like a sleep sack, I suppose. :)

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  15. Those gowns are adorable! I love the fabric you used. I can't wait to see your precious girl rocking her new clothes :)

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  16. Rachel, these are adorable! Never seen this type of gowns either, but it looks so convenient for nightly diaper changes!

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  17. Oh, I SOOOOOO want to break into knits in my pre-baby sewing. I am scared, but I know I just have to jump in. You included some good details here. I'm pinning. It seems like you made a few adjustments, so if you get so totally bored waiting for this baby to come (wink) feel free to make a new template that's perfect and share it. Hahahaha... I just had to do that because those are the emails I usually get. Just kidding. You described the differences here very well =) I'm cautiously optimistic that I might struggle through. Are the gowns too ambitious for a first knit project?

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  18. I just stumbled across your blog via a pinterest link and I'm hooked! I wish I had found it two months sooner as these gowns would have been great for my newborn daughter. She is past the tiny-curled-up-baby-stage but they would make great baby shower gifts.

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  19. Love this pattern! I just made my first one and it was so easy. I'm going make a big stash of these!

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  20. I have spent hours looking for a pattern to make a knotted bottom to the sleeper gown, which I imagine you could use with a car seat. Would you suggest that i make the bottom longer and tie it into a knot. What do you thing would be the best way???

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    1. Ok, so actually, this particular patterns did not end up working out well for us at all. I do have a newborn gown tutorial that I wrote - simply because I wanted to make newborn gowns for my daughter which fit here. I gave some suggestions on how I would make it a newbown gown that ties at the bottom in the comments of that post.

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    2. :-( sorry Rachel, i can't seem to find the comments on how to make it tie at the bottom.

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