tailor’s chalk

Like a set of wooden drawing pencils, or an ink-filled fountain pen, I adore tailor’s chalk for its simplicity of form.

tailor's chalk © elisa rathje 2012

Just a flat shape to grip, a sharp edge to mark fabric with, a pure substance that harms neither the cloth nor the tailor. I have great respect for the ecology of a product that leaves nothing to throw away when it’s done. Even a broken piece remains useful. I love to use this chalk for measuring and marking in quilting and dressmaking. And isn’t it a pretty object?


Before the cold weather sets in and returns us to dark, chilly mornings of tending the fire, I wanted to sew our children a warm nightdress each. I’ve had some beautifully cosy organic cotton for quite some time.

nightclothes © elisa rathje 2011

They’ve been requesting these for months, and planning their design with me, something old fashioned and very simple, long and comfortable. My tall child wants to embellish hers with embroidery and lace as well!

nightclothes © elisa rathje 2011

Now that my studio is mostly in order, I pulled the fabric out and set to cutting two patterns. I cut a variation of the Molly Peasant pattern that I’d made a summer dress with. It is a child’s version of my own peasant frock, this time using three-quarter sleeves and a much longer hem. I cut the little one’s nightgown particularly large with a plan to adjust the elastic a year or so on, to give her a bit more time to wear it. My tall girl isn’t growing quite so rapidly, though she is set to overtake me and it won’t be long before I can sew the same pattern for the both of us!

nightclothes © elisa rathje 2011

I’ve shuffled my antique machine toward the window a bit, I like the odd corner it makes with the ladder to the little reading room in the rafters, but I haven’t quite decided how to organise the space I’ve left. What a pleasure to sew again, here! It takes me such a long time to return, but I adore it once I’ve begun and then a hundred projects are added to my list. Making this dress is really very easy, I highly recommend it!

nightclothes © elisa rathje 2011

I’ve finished one little nightdress, to keep our small one warm as she recovers from a fever. She’s very fond of it and wants to wear it all the time. I’ll assemble the tall one’s nightclothes next, I wish I had enough fabric to make a third for myself! And I think a pair of felted slippers would be just the thing to keep them through the cold months ahead, if I can figure out how to make them.

peasant dress

Well, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly I can make something that I’ve been putting off until I have more time. My dressmaking plans seemed really ambitious, yet I finished a simple peasant frock in an afternoon.

peasant frock

Easy to make and easy to wear.

© elisa rathje 2011

With the pattern cut out, I assembled the bodice and prepared the skirt, then tucked them right sides together to join.

© elisa rathje 2011

Not much to it after that but to thread elastic into the cap sleeves, neckline and empire waist, and secure.

Very simple, the best kind of homemade everyday dress. I might have to make a peasant dress every spring. It’s nice to see the investment in the pattern I bought for last year’s linen dress go a long way, just updating with fabrics and details.

I’m still considering a narrow ruffle for the hem, or lace, and I’ve cut out a couple of pockets to add to the front, as I like to carry around my trusty writing book and fountain pen. Now for the little-girl dresses!