Bibs keep babies tidy. They go in and out of fashion, but a stack of baby bibs was a must-have to any vintage household with a baby in it. Some were for utilitarian use, and they got thrown into the laundry hamper after one messy meal. Others were designed for decoration, and matched or complemented the baby’s wardrobe. You can embroider a baby bib that falls in between these extremes. Make one to match a special outfit. Or create a couple special warm weather bibs for that baby in your life.
Lots of vintage bib patterns exist, because the bib became a staple of the layette. While looking through a stack of old patterns, I came across these two that I just had to share. They’re from an undated layette pattern set, probably from the 1940s or at the latest, early 1950s. I thought they were darling and I wanted to pass them along in case anyone could use them.
To Embroider the Baby Bibs
These patterns measure about 8 1/8 to 8 1/4 inches from side to side, and 8 to 8 1/4 inches from back to belly. They should print well on US size letter paper.
To embroider the bibs:
- Two 10 x 10 inch pieces of white or pastel fabric, light to medium weight like quilting cotton, batiste, or muslin. You can also use 1/4 yard of any of the fabrics.
- 1 yard of bias tape to coordinate or match your base fabric. This will edge the neck and form the ties.
- Embroidery floss in your choice of colors.
- Embroidery hoop to hold your fabric taut.
- Sharp embroidery needle – not a cross stitch tapestry needle. This one needs to have a sharp point to go through the fabric.
Use these stitches:
- French knots or satin stitch for the dots.
- Satin stitch or lazy daisy stitch for the flowers.
- Outline or stem stitch for the lines.
- Buttonhole stitch for the edges.
- Rambler Rose stitch for the roses. (See below for illustration).
Colors You Will Need
Really, you can use any colors you want. Traditionally these were embroidered in light, wispy, pastel colors. But as you can see from the first picture, the original artist colored them with bright reds, yellows, and blues. Is this because it matched their pattern envelope brand colors? We will never know.
The pattern itself does suggest some colors:
- Work entirely in one color. This is great for a more formal bib, or one where you want it to match a particular outfit without question.
- Flowers: pink or blue, or any pastel color on white. Or white on any pastel fabric color.
- Centers: light yellow or white.
- Leaves and stems: light green.
- Ribbons and dots: pink, white, or blue, depending on colors used for flowers. You can match them or contrast.
If you need ideas for embroidery stitches, or instructions on how to do the stitches suggested, I created a whole set of blog posts with vintage embroidery lessons. It’s called Lessons In Embroidery.
Creating the Bibs
Here are the steps to putting one of these bibs together.
- Print out the design you want to use. The original bib measures about 8 x 8 inches or 8 1/4 by 8 1/4 inches. Either is fine. I printed the image at 45% to 46% to match the size.
- Transfer the design to your fabric. You can trace it, use fabric carbon paper, prick the lines with pins and rub powder over them, whatever you like.
- Embroider the main design.
- Use a buttonhole stitch to go around the scalloped outside edge of the bib. This finishes it off.
- Cut out the bib carefully. Be sure not to catch your buttonhole stitches. Cut along the cutting line at the neck. You’ll have about a 3/8 inch seam line.
- Fold your bias tape in half. Attach the middle point to the middle front of the bib neckline and pin it around. Sew the bias tape onto the bib, either by hand or machine. Fold it over and hem the tape to the back of the bib. Sew the long edges of the bias tape straps together so they don’t unfold. You can sew the ends of the tape, or not. It’s cut on the bias. It won’t unravel.
Here are the patterns you will need to create the bibs.
And here is the second design.
The thin line around the outside of the bib shows where to place the buttonhole edging.
Where to Go from Here
If you enjoyed this project, you might also like some of the projects in Lessons in Embroidery. Here’s Lesson 2, all about various straight line stitches. This is the information that hooked me on vintage embroidery stitches, many years ago. Check it out. Lessons in Embroidery: Outline Stitches