Babywear step by step – not my usual sewing fodder.  A friend, fairly new to sewing, wanting to start making baby clothes, needed a demo or two. Here’s the first set, a little dress and panties in size 0-3 months.

I’ve used a figured voile for the outer and a scrap of lawn for the lining. Back looks like this.A cotton lawn for both would be best I think, but I live a long way from the shops and this was dug out of stash. (Its just as well I live a long way from the shops, considering the yardage I usually pick up when let loose in a fabric store.)

First the panties.

The pattern pieces for the front and the back are each cut on a fold, and in the outer fabric and the lining.


1. The back is stitched to the front along the crotch seam, RS Tog. (right sides together), in both the outer fabric and the lining.  The seams are pressed open. I pinked them too, not absolutely essential but I hate fraying ends inside lining, and babywear gets a fair bit of washing. You could use an overlocker for all seams instead.

I’ve got 1 cm seam allowances on this pattern, a strategically placed ‘post it’ helps to keep to the stitching line. I used a microtex needle.

2. Place the lining and outer RS tog., stitch round the leg openings, trim and snip through the seam allowances right up to the stitches at intervals in the curve.

3. Turn it through and press well along the leg opening. Doesn’t it look neat?

4. Pin the side seams, opening out the pieces so that the outer layer is stitched together and the lining is stitched together. That’s the leg opening seam in the middle, the lining’s on the right, the outer fabric is on the left.
When stitching the second side seam , leave a small gap in the lining seam. This is important for the later steps.

5. Now the top edge, the lining and outer are seamed RS together, working ‘inside’. The easiest way to do this without risking getting the pieces twisted up is to start with the panties turned the right way out, and at one side seam, fold in the seam allowances and pinch them together, like this.

Then reach inside between the two layers and grab the seam allowances where you have them pinched. Pull them out and pin them together, and continue pinning the edges of the waist outer and lining edges together as far as you can without the work getting hopelessly bunched up.

 Stitch around where you pinned. You can get almost all of this top edge stitched like this. For the last bit, take the work off the machine, reach in through the space you left in the lining side seam, and pull the seam you’re working on out through this space. You end up with all the seam allowances on the inside and the lining complete, except for the space in one side seam, which you don’t close yet. See how neat it looks? (Well, apart from needing a press)

6. Stitch round the legs to make the channel for the elastic, about a centimetre in from the edge , leaving a small part unstitched so you can get the elastic in. I like to have the elastic as a circle, free within a channel, then it can be adjusted if necessary to accommodate chubbier or skinnier legs.

7. Feed the elastic into this channel  going through the gap you left in the lining side seam, and through the space you left unstitched in the channel. To help keep the elastic flat and not twisted within the channel while you feed it in, mark one side of it at both ends with a small dash of chalk. That way you can see if you’re joining it with a twist.  It also helps to pin the free end the right way up to the lining. It stops the end getting pulled through too far when easing the elastic in. How maddening is it to get the leader end out and find the tail pulled through to somewhere inaccessible in the middle of the channel!

7.  Stitch the elastic into a loop by overlapping the ends and zigzagging. Adjust it in the channel and close the channel by stitching the gap you left in the stitches. The waist elastic is done the same way.

8. The gap in the lining can be slip stitched closed, or you can pinch the edges together with the seam allowances turned in and stitch close to the edge like this.

Panties finished but for the trim.Now the dress.

Its a simple sleeveless A line dress, buttoning in the back, lined.


1. The shoulder seams in both the dress and the lining are stitched first. The back (outer fabric) is on the top in this photo, and you can see that the back pieces are overlapping. They’re wider than the front because there’s a button stand and a grown on facing. The facing will be folded back. The grown on facing will be interfaced as well. I used a fusible.

In this photo of the lining, you can see the back pieces are narrower as they join on to the grown on facing.

2. The back lining is joined to the facing along the centre back.

3. The facing is folded back so that the lining fits exactly over the outer pieces, with RS together. The neckline is pinned and stitched round. The seam allowances are trimmed and snipped through at intervals, up to the stitching so that the curve will turn. You can see the facing turned back on the back pieces, and the seam where it joins the lining.

Here’s how it looks turned through , lining on top, with the facings turned back and joined to the lining at the centre back.

4. With the dress like this, lining on top, you start rolling up the edge nearest to you towards the other edge, like this:-

When its rolled up you reach under the roll and grab the outer fabric at the edge of the armhole by the shoulder seam and pull it out towards you. That’s the voile outer fabric at the bottom of the picture. Its then wrapped round the roll of fabric in the middle, and pinned to the armhole of the lining fabric which is at the top of the picture, matching the shoulder seams and curves. So, you have the armhole of the outer fabric and the lining RS together.5. Stitch round the armhole, taking care not to catch any parts of the rolled up dress in the seam. The seam allowances are trimmed and clipped through at intervals so that the curve will turn well.

6. Turn it through the shoulder seam, tugging gently, and press. Then repeat the same process to get the other armhole seam done.

7. The side seams are stitched next, in the same way as for the panties, the back and fronts of the outer fabric placed right sides together, matching the underarm seams, and continuing the seamline stitching the back and front linings together.

8. A baby hem works on this, wouldn’t you know? I turned under about 0.5 cm and stitched close to the edge, then trimmed the turnings right back to the stitching.

Then turned it a second time, stitching a narrow hem.

Just the buttonholes and buttons to do. As this is the smallest size, I have used small buttons at the top of the dress only.

My machine does five step buttonholes. This is how I mark their placement, once I’ve decided on the distance and the buttonhole length – a strip of masking tape placed beside where the buttonhole line is going, marked with a felt tip pen.

The edge of the tape is set the foot width from the centre line of the buttonholes.

I cut mine with a sharp penknife. A buttonhole chisel is another of those gadgets I haven’t got around to purchasing yet.

I settled for just a little bow as trim on this set, hand stitched on with a vengeance. Mums don’t need telling that little ones have the strength of ten men when tugging at buttons, frills and bows.


About jay

I design and draft patterns
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2 Responses to Babes

  1. Bukola says:

    Hi,I really do enjoy reading things you put I actually look forward to reading them.please kindly let me see how the pattern of a skirt with a lap slit looks and how it’s been sewn.thanks


  2. nehmah says:

    Excellent photo tutorial. These are steps we all should know but (if you are like me) cannot visualize. I do know how determined an itty bitty can become when deciding to wreak havoc on all of one’s best efforts. Thanks for the lesson. cordially, Nehmah62


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