I know that traditionally christening robes should be long, white, delicate and frilly. But I don’t generally follow the rules so the ones I made for my girls are short, bright pink and orange and made from sturdy cotton Shwe Shwe.
I love the designs and colours of this traditional Xhosa fabric and have made a skirt for myself, used the fabric for accents to more corporate clothes and fun zipper pouches. The trick is that the fabric is quite narrow so it works well for clothes for little people and is a bit more challenging for adults. I got this fabric from Fabric World in Cape Town.
For the pattern, I wanted an easy, flattering and cheap pattern (who doesn’t?!) that would work well with the fabric. I stumbled across Sisko by Mieke’s Janneke dress which looks gorgeous. I love the fabric choices of her various iterations. The one catch though is that the pattern and instructions are all in Dutch?! Luckily, as a born and bred South African, I am fluent in Afrikaans which is a close relative to Dutch but there were a few words that I had to Google to make sure I was getting my fronts and backs all correct! I cut the biggest size which I was hoping would leave some room to grow but my littlies are growing so fast that I don’t think I’ll get too much wear out of them. They are also becoming incredibly particular about what they wear: the favourite blue or orange T-shirts are pretty much a staple; any dresses are usually a fight; and any desire of mine is usually not acceptable!
The pattern came together pretty easily. I love the box pleats in the front and they work out nice and crisp with the ShweShwe fabric. I made my own piping out of bright green bias binding that I had made for the orange snuggly sleep sack and I love how it complements the bright pink and orange and makes the green accents jump out. Instead of the facing procedure suggested by the pattern (I had a hard time deciphering it…), I used Kitschy Choo’s tutorial on How to Make a fully lined bodice. It’s a great tutorial and makes the whole step-by-step process a breeze! This is such a brilliant technique – I wish I’d known about it for some of my own clothes. I am definitely going to use this again.
The dresses came out really nicely although I fear the girls have already outgrown them. All that hard work for so little air time…
Pattern: Sisko by Mieke’s Janneke pattern
Fabric: Pure cotton traditional Three Cats Shwe Shwe made by DaGama; Bought from Fabric World in Cape Town.
Alterations: I used Kitschy Koo’s tutorial for the lined bodice
Do it again: I’d like to make a bigger version but I’ll have to brush up on my pattern grading skills because I used the biggest size available on the pattern 🙂