sewing for children
Huge thanks to all of you who have been so patient and have been anticipating the release of this dress. I think it’s a DREAM for back-to-school, and am delighted to have it ready and available for you as you’re thinking about sewing for your girls for the coming year!
In addition to the core Flip Flop Dress pattern, I’m also sharing some of the variations for the dress! Initially, ALL of these pieces and techniques were included in the full pattern, but my testers reported back to me that it made the pattern bulky and unwieldy to work with. I envisioned it as a choose your own adventure-type document, but there are just so many variations that it was a huge number of pages and hard to follow, particularly for folks who have less experience working with a sewing pattern.
I totally agree with them. Sometimes, I want more to be more. My goal, though, isn’t to make the end-all-be-all dress pattern for girls–it’s to design a pattern that’s a pleasure to sew and a joy to share. Reducing the overall scope of the core pattern was the best means to do that, and to create a pattern you’d love to work with.
The Flip Flop Dress features a lined bodice that can button front OR button back, with either a rounded or a square neckline, and a full gathered dirndl skirt. The bodice hits about an inch above the natural waist, and the skirt falls just below the knee. There is an optional lined cap sleeve, and an optional Peter Pan collar, meaning you can make dozens of variations of the dress from the core pattern alone!
The Flip Flop Dress pattern started out, years ago, as a style my mother manufactured when she made children’s clothing for her cottage company back in the late 80s and early 90s, back before people had cottage companies. It is a simple, classic, adaptable pattern for girls sizes 2T-6.
I’ll be going on and on about this pattern for a few days, just be warned. I’ve made about a zillion of them, and my daughter wears them all. the. time. So I’ve got photos to share and lots to say–because I love the pattern, and I know you will, too!
So, I bought all the kids new shoes and it made me feel pretty confident about starting off the school year with all the boxes checked and all their clothing organized. Which led me to think/realize that their drawers are filled to overflowing with garments, but that I don’t know (1) which ones fit, (2) which ones are horribly and embarrassingly stained, or (3) which ones the kids actually like enough that they’d be willing to put them on without necessitating a bribe.
STEP ONE: INVENTORY
I can’t know what I want to add if I don’t already know what I have. (If magic were real, then I wouldn’t need ANYTHING–a girl can dare to dream.) With the shoes, part of what made that particular shopping trip so successful was that I knew exactly what categories they each ought to have shoes to fit, and I knew exactly what shoes they had already in the closet that would suit each category. Which is to say, I didn’t go to the store and see a bunch of cute shoes and bring them all home, and then realize that our girls had four pair of sparkly flats and no sneakers, or that our boy had three pair of (ugh) light-up cartoon character shoes with Velcro closure but not one pair of shoes for church. You see the flaw there–and I think if we’re all honest with ourselves, we know that while we’re saying aloud, “I would never shop for school clothes without a list!” we also know that we have all been guilty of doing just that.
lobster shorts post here
The other thing that inventory helps me achieve–or at least I’m hoping it will, since I haven’t really done this before, and am thinking about the whole process differently than I have in the past–is giving our children unlimited choices within limited options. This is a Montessori idea that I have always loved. In a Montessori classroom, children can choose any activity they like–from the activities the teacher has set out on the shelves. Which is to say, they have complete freedom within a highly orchestrated universe. It isn’t that the teacher controls their choices–her role is to encourage them, over time, to continue to reach for new and challenging work that will stretch their skills rather than allowing them to return again and again to something they can do easily. It is that the teacher specifically engineers the available options to provide work that will make the choosing itself an enjoyable activity, and to minimize the number of times that a child must be turned away from a selection.
Heather Ross tees post here
I’m totally certain I can successfully apply this idea to my kids’ wardrobes. I want to make sure, by doing an inventory and identifying needs, that they have every garment they could need for any forseeable event. And then I want to give them total freedom to choose. And if they don’t always match? No worries–I like an eclectic selection, myself. And if they choose something grossly inappropriate, like a swimsuit for a funeral or shorts and sandals on the snowiest day of the year? We have an actual conversation about why we wear what we wear and when–which, honestly, is asking the grown-ups to challenge our own ideas of what’s OK and what isn’t.
Lotus Pond post here
So. Inventory. Using our own days and general activities/commitments as a guide, I’ve created a PDF printable to use to check off each garment I think our kids are going to need in the coming months. Rather than have lists of clothing categories, I mainly went with lists of ACTIVITY categories–it doesn’t do me much good, as a mom, to plan their clothing based on arbitrary ideas of how many shirts and pants they might need, and then hope they’ll have the right KIND of shirts and pants when an occasion arises. It makes a lot more sense, to my mind, to think about where we ACTUALLY GO and then plan clothing for those events specifically. So these checklists include school clothes, church clothes, pajamas, those kinds of categories. And we are one of those old-school families who still have “play” clothes, and change into them at the end of the school day to keep our school clothes nice–play clothes tend to be last year’s things that aren’t as nice but aren’t rags yet, and that I don’t mind them rolling in the mud while wearing. (By all means, if you have suggestions for how to improve these checklists or for things I’ve left off, let me know in the comments!) Download here for girls or here for boys, or by clicking the images.
I’ll share the results for each of our three kids-still-at-home in the coming days this week. We have one tween girl, one school-age boy, and one preschool girl who all need to examine what they’ve got and what they don’t. That’s a fairly wide range of ages for the current crop of sewing patterns, but I think it’s a good representation of ages that other moms I know have at home, so hopefully by working some of this stuff out in front of all of you, it’ll be useful to others!
kids’ shorts post here
Part of this endeavor is organization, obviously. A good start to the school year is much more likely if we’ve got at least the majority of our ducks in a row. Another part of this is frugality, although I have mixed feelings about how forthright we’re being in that regard. On the one hand, I have literally never, never in my entire 19+ years of being a mom, EVER done the traditional “back to school shopping” extravaganza trip. Not once, honestly. It’s not on my agenda, it’s not really in my nature (having been raised by parents and grandparents who I swear were Puritanical enough to have sailed the Mayflower and made good time on a single tank), and I don’t like the whole hype and expense that surrounds it. At the same time, there are things that I WILL be buying for our children because in the cost/benefit analysis, even though I can make them at home, I’m not sure it’s worth it to do so (I will under no circumstances be knitting my children socks just to have them lost or abused in the mud; I still have not made the kids underpants, although the idea intrigues me; and while I will sew a zillion knit tees, I probably will purchase solid-colored ones rather than making them myself). So I think we’re sewing much of their school wardrobes to save money, but we’re willing to spend money if it’s more economical in the Big Picture to buy rather than invest the time to sew.
Fanfare flannel jammies post here
When I ask myself the major reason I like and want to sew for my children, it really is the satisfaction I get out of heading out of the house and realizing that they’re all wearing things I have made myself. I have stopped waving off compliments when people learn that I’ve sewed for the kids, and instead take every “You made that?!?” as an opportunity to spread my agenda: I genuinely think everyone ought to sew, and that it will bring people together in ways that very few other things could do. So when I lay out these list and stack up their “keeps” and their “donates” and their “throw aways,” I won’t just be thinking about all the money we’re saving by stash shopping for fabric to sew up their school clothes. I’ll be thinking about how fun it is to see them all arrayed in home-sewn clothes, and the memories they’ll have and share with others down the road.
Next post: Our tween girl’s inventory results, along with her list of To-Sew and links to patterns and fabric to get us there.
I’ve got a round-up today of patterns that are great for sewing boys’ clothing, along with some suggestions for what fabrics you might already have lying around that would sew up great! Check it out over at Cook, Clean, Craft–and thanks to Narelle for inviting me to play along!
Earlier this year, I matched up hundreds of happy folk with one another as Sewing Buddies, and then challenged them to complete a sewing project that would take BOTH of them to win! Today was meant to be the deadline to submit photos to Flickr for the project, but I have EXTENDED the deadline through midnight on Monday, June 18, 2012. Sewing Buddies, to enter, simply upload photos to the Sewing Buddy Flickr pool and label them Sewing Buddy Challenge #1. I’ll be announcing winners next week! This thing is still wide open, y’all, so if you and your Buddy thought you were out of time, you’re still in it!
In the meantime, check out some of the projects that have been submitted already:
Note: Don’t have a Buddy? You can still play along! Upload your project photos according to the guidelines. Please note, non-Buddies aren’t eligible for prizes, but I’d love to showcase your sewing!
We’ve lived in this new house for about five months now, and are still finding boxes to unpack. My husband and I were superstars a couple weekends ago and completely cleaned out and organized the things that were more-or-less dumped in the garage when we moved in (and had sat there ever since). Naturally, that necessitated bringing some boxes inside and stacking them up “to take care of later.” Where later = a mythical time that will never, ever come.
But! I am woman! And so, in an effort primarily to do something nice for my husband, I unpacked TWO–count ’em, TWO!–boxes the other day while he was taking the children to the library, God bless him. One included photos in frames, meant to be hung on the walls of the hallway (which I did–pics to follow) and the other was clothing for our girls that I’d been saving. I thought most of it was stuff I’d kept from our eldest to pass along to our five-year-old, but there was a whole mess in there that had belonged to the five-year-old that I had apparently saved for the baby.
And now look at her:
I made this ages and ages ago, back maybe even before I started selling fabric retail. It’s the Pinafore pattern, along with a shorts version of the Perfect Pants pattern I teach in my Sewing Clothing for Kids e-course, and the prints from Jay McCarroll’s very first fabric line. This must be a solid four+ years old.
I love this feeling, that I’ve invested my time into something that will not only last, but that will surprise me with pleasure and satisfaction when I least expect it. Today was the little one’s last day of school for the year (!!), and I wanted to dress her in something pretty for the photos at the end of the day. I felt like the best mother in the world when I put this on her this morning. And it’s not too bad this afternoon, either.
As fantastic as our Easter holiday was this year, our Easter photos didn’t turn out as fabulously as I had hoped. This was the best of the bunch, after the maximum editing I could muster:
You’ll notice that I went all 1970s on my children this year: everyone has matching outfits. Hee-haw. All of these print are from the Hello, Luscious collection from Basic Grey, and I had this insane idea that it would be awesome if we all were matchy-matchy, and then took photos together, and wouldn’t that be cute, right? But aside from the fact that it was SO pretty and sunny out that every photo totally blown out with sunlight, most of them are some variation of this:
What I thought would happen was that I’d take a photo of my husband with all the kids, then I’d trade places with him and get a photo of me with all the kids, then I’d just photoshop myself in and voila! A family portrait! But as you can see, there wasn’t a single photo of me that would be even remotely acceptable. Of course, I’ve taken exactly five photos since the ninth grade in which I have my mouth shut, so it’s not exactly a surprise…
The up-side is that their outfits all turned out super cute. Our boy wore a button-up shirt with short sleeves and his Perfect Pants in linen, (both from the Sewing Clothing for Kids e-course), and the girls wore their button-back dresses with super whirly skirts, both with a Peter Pan collar matching their brother’s shirt. So cute, for reals. Our eldest is wearing a sundress which may or may not be featured in my new book, and which is actually the same pattern as my dress in those ridiculous photos above, except mine is the strapless version. Because I’m a grown-up, and I can.
Fortunately for me, I have had multiple opportunities this Easter holiday to showcase my brother/sister outfit fetish, like the local massive egg hunt we attended with all four children. Check it out: a WHOLE OTHER OUTFIT for egg hunting, and they STILL MATCH. I am either sick or a genius. I may possibly be a sick genius; I can live with that.
This is a fabulous Laurie Wisbrun print that I adore (and that Holly at the shop convinced me I needed to buy yards and yards and yards of). Our five-year-old got a cute skirt, our boy got another shirt but this time with a cowboy/western thing going on, and the youngest got the same dress she wore on Easter, but with a squared neckline rather than a Peter Pan collar. Our eldest would have agreed to wear a headband of the same fabric, but it didn’t go with the shirt she wanted to wear. Teens.
Seriously, is there anything cuter than your kids all matching? I know–if you grew up, like I did, during the ACTUAL 1970s, then you have some really wretched photos of you and your siblings in some seriously garish matching outfits. And if you grew up in the South, you have seen some truly gag-inducing Sunday-best outfits for boys and girls, probably with matching smocked insets. But these! Are so cute!! I’m not crazy, right??
Just a few short hours left until we launch the Sewing for Kids Weekend at Whipstitch!! Rae of Made By Rae and Karen of Sewing for Boys are here for three big events this weekend, and we’d all really love to see you there!
We’re all meeting for some crafty togetherness on Friday night from 7 to 9:30 pm. Bring your handwork or your machine, BYOB or enjoy the snacks provided by the Atlanta Modern Sewing Guild, and be ready to chat it up with your new favorite people! Karen will be signing copies of her book, Rae will be dispensing indispensible advice, and we’ll all be sewing our brains out. RSVP so we’ll know to expect you!
Then Saturday morning, drop by for a FREE demo answering all your questions about sewing handmade clothes for kids and for women! Karen and Rae are packing their suitcases super full of lovely samples for you to touch and see, and we’ll wrap the whole thing up with a Q & A.
Finally, we’ll tie a pretty bow around our weekend with a Treasure Pocket Pants workshop! Leave with a pair of these darling pants, for boys or girls, along with the pattern to keep and the memories of being led through the sewing by ladies who KNOW. We’ve got just one or two spots left–snag one and we’ll see you there!
I’m gearing up for the start of the Sewing Clothing for Kids e-course on Monday. Add to that the desperate–and I mean, really DIRE–need my nearly-six-year-old has for pants right now, and I knew yesterday was Pants Day. I had some lovely dark denim from the shop, so I opted to use the Perfect Pants pattern from the e-course to whip up some little jeans for her. Since I also adore the pockets from the Overmost, I added those to the pants, with a sweet bandana-ish heart print lining, and gave them red top-stitching for a retro feel.
She was SO excited about these, I had a devil of a time getting her to stand even CLOSE to still so I could get photos. Or, more accurately, my choices were (1) wild racing around or (2) very odd, stagey affected poses. Does anyone know where they get that? I mean, she’s five and we don’t subscribe to any fashion magazines, but when you ask her to stand still for the camera, she sticks a hip out and makes this super unnatural smile. (These photos are far below my hopes, but I don’t care: the fact that she came in and gasped with happiness that I’d made her something to wear, then wanted to put them on right away and run outside to “try them out” has erased any pride I might have taken in the photos. I really just want to gloat a little about how much joy her joy gave me.) Anyway–the short version is: she LOVES the pants.
I really love the fit. These have an elastic back waist, and a mock fly with a flat waistband on the front, and I love that while they give her plenty of room to move and be active, they still fit well enough that she isn’t always yanking them up or fussing with them. Clothes they forget they’re wearing but that still look great–it’s like the Holy Grail of kids’ clothes.
I’d show you a flat shot, but she insisted on wearing them to school today–and told me that when she gets home, she’ll be taking them off, since she doesn’t want to get anything on them. Does the heart good.
I’ve got some stretch twill in bubble-gum pink that wants to be another pair, so maybe this afternoon I can get those put together and figure out how to get better photos of the jeans for you. It’s not all photos and blogging around here–we wear the stink out of this stuff!
I am a loyal reader of Made By Rae, and bought a copy of Sewing for Boys the week it came out. So I am genuinely and personally thrilled to announce that March 23 & 24 Whipstitch is hosting these fine ladies for a Sewing for Kids Weekend! Whoo-hoo!
I have read Rae’s blog for years–it was one of the first I read when I discovered the world of online sewing, and her kind and sisterly voice was such a welcoming one. Rae does great tutorials (I’m especially fond of her Basic Newborn Pant and have given it as a shower gift a bunch of times), and sews for her two kids at an admirable pace–plus, her attention to detail and scientific precision mean you can always rely on her patterns and instructions (have you SEEN the Pierrot Tunic??).
I love her photos and her sense of humor, and that she’s always willing to venture into unfamiliar territory–like sewing with knit fabrics, in her recent Kniterviews Series (a must-read if you’re working with knit fabrics). She even has a free pattern for a crazy-cute pair of handmade tights!
Karen Lepage is one half of the writing team who produced Sewing for Boys. You may know her better as the lady behind One Girl Circus, or from the patterns she has designed for Patterns By Figgy’s. Super talented, very funny, and with a clear vision of how to make clothes that kids love to wear and that moms love to put on them. I was so excited to see her book come out, since there is still a giant lack of great stuff on the market today to sew for boys (despite the fact that boys are still 50% of the kids we make each year!).
Having these two ladies here in Atlanta is going to be a TON of fun, and we’ve been phone calling and emailing and tweeting back and forth nailing down all the details for you!
We’ll kick the weekend off with a Crafty Meet-Up at the shop. Rae has done a number of these in Michigan, but the commute was way too long for me to get in on the fun–so now we’re doing one here! Yippee! Bring your own machine and project, and take over the shop on Friday, March 23 from 7 to 9:30 pm to join like-minded crafters for a pile of love and fun. RSVP through EventBrite so we can plan to expect you–this event is sponsored by the Atlanta Modern Sewing Guild, and we’d love nothing more than to pack it out!
Saturday morning, join Rae and Karen for a FREE demonstration and Q & A. They’re packing up samples and prepping ideas to share their Tips for Success when Making Handmade Clothing. Making handmade clothes for your kids or yourself is so much fun, but you want to make sure that your work pays off! Karen and Rae will share tips on how to make sure those lovely handmade garments will fit, demonstrate easy (and quick) seam finishes to make those clothes last, and trouble shoot some common problems. They’ll talk about when it’s good to take risks and show examples with a bunch of garments they’ve made for their kids and themselves. And it’s all FREE! Be at the shop from 10:30 to 12 noon on Saturday, March 24 to get in on the fun. Seating is limited!
Finally, to cap it all off, a fantastic workshop: making the Treasure Pocket Pants from Sewing for Boys! These pants are great for boys AND girls, and are super, super cute. Rae and Karen will provide the pattern and hold your hand as you work through this adorable addition to a child’s wardrobe, and workshoppers will leave the three-hour session with a completed pair of pants to take home! Meet at the Whipstitch shop from 2-5 pm on Saturday, March 24 to get in on the fun! See all the details and register for the workshop here.
Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks! Read more details on Rae’s blog.
I’m already hearing lots of buzz and excitement about the Sewing Clothing for Kids e-course this spring, and I am delighted to announce that registration is now OPEN! Woot!
Psst!! This class makes an EXCELLENT last-minute Valentine’s gift, so do feel free to forward the link to that certain someone who hasn’t yet made it to the store!
This class is a five week online course, open to anyone anywhere in the world, that walks through the basics of making clothing for children sized 12 months to 6 years. We cover seven patterns, all of which are included with the registration, and most of which are great for both boys and girls!
See images below for a sneak peek into what we’ll be sewing beginning March 12, and then head over to register today! I am capping enrollment on this class to make sure I’m able to interact with everyone on an individual basis, so if you’re hoping to join us, then sign up sooner than later!
A bonnet with a delightful gathered brim, perfect for summer and spring.
The bib is BIG, and is lined with neutral-colored flannel to make it absorbent.
The button-up shirt can be short or long-sleeved, and is fabulous in all those novelty prints you’ve been dying to use. The cut is great for either boys or girls, and I’ve made it for every season of the year. Our son’s closet is stuffed full of them, including the one he wore with his Snack Bandolier last year!
The reversible-bodice dress isn’t truly reversible–rather, the bodice can be stitched so it buttons up the front or buttons up the back (you decide when you make the dress). It’s like having two styles of dress in one pattern! This one has a cute trim accent at the hem. We’ll also make a boys’ vest based on this bodice that is fully lined.
The Perfect Pants come in three lengths: shorts, capris/pedal pushers, and full-length. They have a flat front, elastic-waist back, and mock fly. Check out the ones Rae has made for her kids, who seem to really love them!
More button-up shirt, with its curved hem, and the long-sleeved version has a sleeve vent–varsity skills, y’all! The patterns in the class are ALL suitable for confident beginners, so anyone who has taken my Essential Sewing e-course or has a similar level of beginner experience is more than capable of making these garments–I promise.
The Overmost in a long version, this time in corduroy with a quilt-cotton lining. This one IS fully reversible! See more images of the Overmost, which I love for both boys and girls.
The pinafore is sweet when stitched up for girls, and can be worn alone, over pants, over a skirt, over shorts, with a tee, without a tee–our girls live in these all year long!
The Overmost has criss-cross straps at the elastic-waist back.
I like the Overmost for girls and boys, especially with a great novelty button!
A fabulously versatile jacket with either zipper or button options for closures, and can have either a collar or a hood.
The jacket is fully reversible, and has pockets at the side seams.
The pinafore can have a single button at the bodice for the apron variation.
Or you can add buttons all the way up the back on the pinafore for full coverage or to wear as a dress!
Large covered buttons for the reversible-bodice dress.
The cowboy variation of the button-up shirt is cute with its patch pockets, cowboy yoke, and snap finish.
ALL these patterns come included with the class registration, and you’ll learn step-by-step how to sew each one with video instruction and the chance to ask your questions as we work our way through–and get personal answers. I love, love, love teaching these classes online, and can’t wait to have you be part of it! Check out this and other online sewing classes on the Whipstitch sewing e-course page, and I’ll look forward to “seeing” you in class!