Ottobre 6/2011 sleepsuit

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For some reason I adore this picture. What an expression!

I made this back in February, but was inspired to finally get my arse in gear and post about it this week after watching the Great British Sewing Bee contestants grapple with making babygrows.

One of the contestants was asked if she’d ever made babygrows for her kids and her incredulous “no way” (or words to that effect) was pretty much the way I felt about making such a fiddly item of clothing for a rapidly growing baby. But then I had a boy who threw off all his blankets, but who hated being in sleeping bags. He was just starting to stand and cruise so he hated the constriction, I’m guessing. He needed something to keep him warm at night, but with legs built in. I didn’t wanted a footed sleepsuit, though, as at the time with our hard flooring downstairs he would slip around all over the place. It was bare feet or babygrows/socks with those little grippy dots on the bottom at the time. I also wanted it to be made out of a breathable, natural fabric for his comfort.

I looked around the shops but the only thermal sleepsuits I could find all had feet built in (without the grippy dots!), and were quilted with polyester wadding. They seemed pricey too, especially considering they weren’t what I really wanted. Snowsuits generally looked better, but they all had hoods so weren’t suitable for sleeping in–and possibly too warm as well. I didn’t want Gabriel to overheat. So I gradually came around to the idea of making one. How hard can it be, right?

Well, finding the pattern was a trial in itself. There are very few babygrow patterns out there, and none were what I was after. I wanted something with a lining for added warmth. Eventually I stumbled on the idea of looking at Ottobre magazines, and after a few issues with their website (is it me, or is just not intuitive to navigate?) I found a pattern I thought I could use from winter 2011. It’s called Fairy Floss and is actually for a snowsuit, but I figured it should be easy enough to leave off the hood and use a knit binding around the neck.

This was the original photo in the magazine, so you can see I had to use my imagination!

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So, I ordered the magazine and when it arrived I pulled out the pattern sheet to reveal this monstrosity:

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Yeah, it gave me a headache too. As you can see, the instructions are pretty minimal too what with their lack of illustrations (that’s the complete instructions for the suit on the bottom half of the page). However, I got on with tracing out the pattern pieces and adding seam allowances (yes, you have to do this yourself). At this point Gabriel was nine months old so from his measurements I sized up to a 74, which supposedly corresponds to a UK 12 month size.

Then I ordered my fabric which was a saga in itself. The good people at Minerva didn’t have the original colour of sweatshirting I ordered, and then they didn’t include the zip, or send out the replacement. Luckily they were super apologetic and all was eventually resolved. I chose a blue interlock from my stash for the lining. I have loads of this 100% cotton interlock (originally from Vend Fabrics) which I bought years ago when I used to make dolls to sell at craft fairs. It’s very soft and thick but has poor recovery so not suitable for many clothing uses, but just perfect here.

I was all ready to cut my fabric and get going… and then I found a quilted, footed sleepsuit going cheap on eBay. And then Christmas happened, and before I knew it, Gabriel had grown out of the sleepsuit I bought. I sighed, looked at my pattern and thought about the hassle of retracing it in the next size up. Then I measured the pattern pieces, measured Gabriel, and realised that I could get away with using what I had if I just added 1″ length to the body (I have long-bodied children) and sewed with 6mm seam allowances rather than the 15mm I had added.

Despite my trepidation about the instructions they were pretty easy to follow, although I was glad for my experience with handling zips and linings following this tutorial. All went amazingly smoothly, and even the dreaded gusset wasn’t too hard to handle. I basted this on my machine before overlocking, which allowed me to deal with the odd pucker before it was too late.


The order of construction seemed bizarre to me, but I just followed the instructions and trusted in them. You make two babygrows, one out of main fabric and one of the lining, then you join them at the zip. Then you join the ends of the sleeves and legs, and wind up with an alarming looking Gordian knot:

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Yeah, I really wasn’t sure I was doing it right, but then I turned it all through the neckhole and oh my God, I had a fully lined babygrow! All I then needed to do was add a quick neckline binding and it was finished. Sooo satisfying.

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Check out that gusset!

So, all in all this was an easy make and I don’t know quite why I was dreading it so much. Possibly the small scale and the pattern instructions not having pictures were responsible. It’s made me realise I really should just get on and make/finish all the things I’m dreading for some reason, as they’re never as tricky as you think.

It turned out I probably should have stuck with the original seam allowance as this sleepsuit was seriously large on Gabriel to begin with. However, four months later it now fits him pretty well with only small cuff turnups, and I reckon there are at least a few months growing room left.

I think if we’re going by number of wears to measure a garment’s success then this is my all time best make in the history of forever! Gabriel has worn it every single night for the last four months (I do wash it, honest! I just tumble dry it and get it straight back on him). He seems to love pottering around in it in the mornings, and is always very happy to be dressed in it at night.

The fabric is beautiful quality and the sweatshirt hasn’t pilled at all. The two layers are warm and snuggly enough without making him overheat. He wears a vest and pjs underneath on cooler nights, and just a vest when it’s been warmer.

I will definitely be making another of these for when Gabriel grows out of this one. Fortunately there are another two size increments on the pattern. I just have trace them all out again and add in all the seam allowances (which are different for the lining and outer). Yeah, I’m not going to think about that bit just yet…

So, anyone else out there willing to try out sewing a babygrow? They’re really not as scary as you might think (despite what the GBSB contestants made out!)

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