craft, Disney, Doll, Mary Frances sewing, sewing

Chapter XVIII: A Nighty For Her Little Nap

“A charming thing to make Marie, will be a dainty White nightie,”- sang Sewing Bird.


“Oh, good!” exclaimed Mary Frances. ”That is just what she needs. I had to loan her Angle’s best one; and Angle’s terribly cross. You see, I fear she is a little jealous of my new dolly. I’ll not neglect Angle, but you understand, dear Sewing Bird Lady, that it is my duty to clothe this child—” anxiously— ”Isn’t that perfectly right?”


Mary, you didn’t have to lend her Angie’s BEST one, you know. You could have come up with a solution where all parties feel cared for. Mary Marie would have understood…right?

It turns out the Thimble People  have prepared a paper pattern for Mary to continue her sewing adventures  with. From now on, when I find a long forgotten pattern I ordered but never made anything from in my sewing room, I shall thank the Thimble People instead of cursing myself for being lazy.

This is the four-in-one pattern for the nightgown, bathrobe, kimono and dressing sack. The final item being far more stylish than it name suggests. Think of it as an indoor lounging jacket.

Screenshot-2017-10-15 The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people - maryfrancessewin00frye_bw pdf


  • Three-quarters of a yard of lawn, or muslin. Long-cloth is a very nice kind of muslin to use.
  • Three-quarters of a yard of lace ribbon beading.
  • One yard baby ribbon.


I didn’t know what long-cloth is, Wiki helped: cotton fabric which is of high quality, very soft, coarsely woven, and very often used to make underwear and infants’ clothing.

I went with a double-gauze fabric, not knowing much about WHAT sort of fabric it was but knowing that it had small cute patterns suitable for baby-wear.

Here’s more information from Colette patterns about double-gauze.

The important part of these patterns is to pick soft/fine cloth that drapes easily because with a stiffer fabric the harsh T shape of the pattern doesn’t drape well on a doll’s sloping shoulders. This style of pattern is GREAT for kids because it requires fewer seams but isn’t the most form-fitting for the dolls themselves.

Dainty WHITE nighty? I love prints and colors. I’m not intending to make historically correct doll clothing. White. Not. Happening.

Lace Ribbon Beading*:
*no beads involved.

This refers to a simple trim that has holes or ovals at regular intervals that one can weave ribbon through. It was easier finding it at a store than finding it online as the keywords lace & beading bring up SO many beaded laced trims.

Baby Ribbon: I parsed this as ribbon that wouldn’t fray but would be thin enough to fit through the eyelets of my trim.

This is the fabric I used (double gauze, non-directional print fabric) my trim and ribbon. If my fabric had had a one-direction print I would have had to seam it together at the top so that both the back and front of the nighty had right-side-up designs.



  • Fold the lawn crosswise.
  • Lay edge of the pattern having the two rings (oo) on the folded edge of the lawn.
  • Cut out, being careful to clip the little V-shaped notches before removing the pattern. (Note. — Always clip a small gash in the corner under arm of these kimono-style dresses.)

(Then the action is interrupted to explain the technique for french seams to be used to sew the body of the night-gown)

(Place the pieces together, wrong sides together, and proceed with french seams.)

  • Fold the two long halves together and pin the notches against each other.
  • Baste carefully along this edge, and try on dolly. Alter, if necessary.

This style of nightgown comes first because it involves no plackets or fasteners. This means you must make sure your doll can get the wide neckline down over her head (or up over her body) ..if you can’t, make the neckline a little larger or you’ll be sewing a useless object.

  • With running stitch, sew near the basting.
  • Turn to other side and baste seam carefully to enclose the first seam—a French Seam.

“Do you recognize the French Seam?”

“Indeed I do,” smiled Mary Frances.

“You may use the Needle-of-Don’t-Have-to-Try for this lesson,” said Fairy Lady, “because you’ve already learned these stitches. Doesn’t it pay to work patiently at first?”


Patiently is also a sewing term I reject. I’m sure some sewists and beading artists are patient. I. Am. Not.

I make elaborately beaded costumes and other fiddly handmade items. I am constantly being told “I don’t have the patience to make X” as if I contain patient depths of calm and that explains how I can make intricate items.


I don’t. I am not patient. I am not to be trusted with a full bag of granola. All bagged food is one serving,

Creating with my hands is the closest I get to being able clear my mind of thoughts. I am told this is why people meditate. With my anxiety and depression every attempt I’ve made to meditate has been harrowing at best. But when I’m working with my hands and three-dimensional objects to create something I can pinpoint my focus and everything falls quiet. I am not patient. I am dearly in need of quiet at times and this does is.

Back to the nighty.

“Now,” said Fairy Lady, “fold a three-quarter of an inch hem at the bottom, and baste. Then hem it.”

The hemming the Needle-of-Don’t-Have-to-Try quickly did.

Now it’s time to finish the sleeve cuffs and neck-hole with our beading lace and ribbon.


  • Clip a half dozen little slashes in the edge of the neck, and turn back to the right side of the goods one-quarter of an inch. Baste.
  • Turn back one-quarter of an inch the end of the lace beading lor ribbon, and baste it over the turned back goods, beginning in the center of the back.”
  • “Cut off the lace beading one-quarter of an inch beyond the place it meets the beginning, and finish by turning it in one-quarter of an inch. Hem beading down on lower edge.”

So now the Lace Beading should be on the outside of the nighty, around the neck, covering the clipped-appart raw edge. The sleeves are finished the same way except they can just be turned over at the edge without clipping. There’s instructions on how to add lace to the edge of the sleeve but I felt that would be too froo-froo for me.

Now it’s time to BRAIN THE BODKIN.


“’Bod Kin!” exclaimed Mary Frances, catching the last words. ”Is he a Thimble person?”

“He was!” sighed Scissors Shears, letting several tears fall.

“But,” explained Fairy Lady, “one day he refused to do as the King commanded, and would not go through the muslin—so the King changed him into a blunt-nosed needle; and he has been compelled to be good ever since, even without his own consent.”

I hope that your bodkin isn’t a needle that has been enchanted to serve without free will or the ability to consent to the actions it is to perform.

Mr. Silver Thimble, remember this when next you think to torment other Thimble People, the King COULD lobotomize you and take away your self-control. But, as a soldier you might be safe because you’re acting under orders of the King.

Smash the patriarchy.

Load your bodkin up with the ribbon and thread in through the beading lace. This will make the ribbon into a decoratively pleasing drawstring.

Then just put it on your doll, cinch it, and tie the ribbons into bows.

I think the ribbon could be tacked into place at the point furthest from the bow to help reduce the chance of it being removed and lost by a child….but my next post will cover how I made this more child-friendly (to use on dolls)





“Mary Frances looked up in surprise. Fairy Lady was gazing at Mary Marie with a sad, wistful look.

“Why, dear Fairy Lady,” exclaimed Mary Frances, “what’s the matter?”

“Nothing, my dear, so very queer,” said the Fairy Lady smiling; “only that nightgown is just my size.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Mary Frances. “So it is! You can have it, dear Fairy Lady. I’ll work and work to make Mary Marie another. Do take it!”

What kind of a midwestern passive-agressive move  is THAT Fairy Lady? And what of Angie? Fairy Lady goes on to turn down the offer but insist that it’s just praise for how well Mary treats her (new) doll and how lucky that (new) doll is…and then announces that she can hear Grandma on the stairs, which I suspect is what she always tells Mary when she wants her to shut up.

Excerpts From: Fryer, Jane Eayre, 1876-. “The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people.”




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