Friday, January 31, 2014

Becky: Baby's First and Second Shirt

In my post about January, I wrote that I had finished some baby shirts. I was confused on why there would be two different types of under shirts for baby; an open shirt (split in the back) and a closed shirt (no openings).

I thought I should unearth my resource books and find out. My best recourse books were Workwoman's Guide (1838) and What Children Wore (Or Wished They Could) in the Era of the Hoop by Heidi Marsh which referenced Godey's Magazine often.

In the Workwoman's Guide by A Lady (1838) I found a recommended list for baby's wear:
  
Baby-Linen Inventory
Shirts......................12-18
Flannel Bands...........2-4
Flannel Caps.............2-3
Night Caps...............6-12
Day Caps.................3-6
Napkins (dozens of)..4-6
Pilchers......................4-6
Pinafores...................6-12
Bedgowns.................4-6
First Day-gowns........3-4
Night Flannels............3-4
Day Flannels..............3-4
Flannel Cloak............1-2
Flannel Shawl............2-3
Robes.......................4-6
Petticoats..................4-6
Socks.......................4-8
Hood........................1
Cloak or Pelisse........1

Both Workman's Guide and What Children Wore had provided the essential information to whomever would be making children's clothing. They stressed the importance of the child's health and comfort:
The first is, the health and comfort of her child - and this course is, and ought to be, a paramount consideration; the next is, that its clothes should be neatly and tastefully made, so that they may be contribute to the pleasing apperance of the wearer. (pg 151)- How to Cut and Contrive Children's Clothing Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine 1857

Along the lines of comfort and health you may want to keep these tips in mind: 
  • Every article of dress, for a newborn infant, should be white. White is easiest to clean!
  • Materials differ depending on family income; the low class could not afford the linen which upper class could easily use, Therefore keep in mind on the cost of material and the class you portray.
  • Some articles could be cheaper ready-made rather than making them at home.
Now onto the Shirts!
Open Shirts
I wish I could find the images to go along with the discriptions, but I have found pictures that may help to visualize:

What Children Wore (Or Wished They Could) in the Era of the Hoop by Heidi Marsh
Infant shirt- Material , fine cambric. The trimming consists of narrow frills of the same simply hemmed. The upper part has flaps which turn over, back and front. On the shoulders the flaps are shaped in points, which button down on the sleeves -Godey's 1862 (pg 114)
Slip for young infant. The sleeve cut out of the skirt, which is gathered into a neck band. Very simple and new. -Godey's 1860 (pg 116)
The first shirt- fine linen, such as French cambric is often used. Each is 23" X 11", therefore, one yard and seven-eighths makes six shirts without the sleeves. Sleeves are made in half-handkerchief form, joined at the shoulder and felled seamed (for open shirt).




Closed Shirts
Infant's Second or Closed shirt-" When infants are about nine months old, they generally leave off using the open or first shirt, and begin to wear the closed shirt until they reach the age of seven or eight years, when the usual shaped shirt or shift is worn."-The Workwoman's Guide by A Lady (1838)

At seven or eight months a leather shoe may be worn. ---The little shirt is now closed, and from seen in the engraving. It is made of the same shape for boys and girls.-What Children Wore (Or Wished They Could) in the Era of the Hoop by Heidi Marsh

Conclusion
Keep in mind the health, comfort and material you use when making children's clothing. You would like to have lightweight white cotton or linen depending on your persona. First shirts are open backed and may or may not have ties to keep them on baby.
Both open and closed shirts have flaps on front and back.
Closed shirts are for older children from seven (according to Heidi Marsh' research) to eight years old (according to The Workwoman's Guide).

I hope this information will help you on your next children's outfit! I dont plan to make so many items listed in the inventory, but it is a great reference!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post. You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on Linen Shirts. I will recommend this site!

    ReplyDelete

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