How to Make a Basic Essential Layette
for Eighteenth Century Re-enactor Infants
Bib, also Drool cloth, Burp cloth, the "Muckinder"
Many period descriptions of infant clothing don’t mention any bib, which leads to the suspicion that they weren’t widely used. So you probably don’t have to make bibs if you don’t want to; you can easily get by with some extra squares of diaper cloth.
If you do wish to make bibs, here is a pattern for one, adapted from a decorative, lace-embellished early to mid 18th c. specimen at the Saffron Walden Museum in Great Britain (Buck, fig 12). This object was probably part of a christening set for a swaddled baby.
click image for larger view.
To make the bib: (Each square of the grid = 1")
1. Cut it out as shown in medium weight white linen or diaper cloth.
2. Finish all the edges by hemming with as narrow and fine a hem as you can make.
3. Add a pair of ties at the CB neck, using white cotton twill tape, ¼" or ½" wide, cutting two pieces each 7" long. Sew one tie at each X.
Options for ornamentation:
1. The original was embellished with narrow ruffles of finer fabric, very sheer, roughly 5/8" wide after hemming. These were sewn on nearly flat, with almost no gathering.
2. The original had a strip of lace, hollie-point, roughly 1" wide, inserted vertically down the middle.
Whether or not your baby wears a bib, a supply of extra cloths will be invaluable. Hemmed squares of diaper cloth, made like the diapers themselves but without the ties, are handy wipe-ups. These are often called "drool cloths" or "burp cloths" nowadays. An archaic but evocative name for these indispensable wipers is "muckinder". You can’t have too many!
- Diaper, known in the period as "napkin" or "clout"
- Pilch or Pilcher, a diaper-cover
- Roller, swaddling-band, belly-band, or "surcingle"
- Bed gown or robe
- Bib, also Drool cloth, burp cloth, the "muckinder"
- Stockings, Shoes, Booties
- Baby sling, baby carrier
- Blanket, basket, bedding
- Final Reminder
Baby Swaddling Photo Series
Baby Gown Photo Series