Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Tween sewing and a reality check....

    My Biggest little one recently turned eight and for her birthday she requested a pencil case and a notebook! Whilst I was pleased that so far she has not succumbed to the materialistic world we live in I also suggested that perhaps I could add to her gifts by making her something - she reported that she would like some summer PJ's and a summer dress.
  At the beginning of my sewing adventures I bought a copy of 'Happy homemade sew chic kids':

     It is an English translation of a Japanese book, has patterns for both girls and boys up to the age of eight. The garments in it are lovely and I thought I would get lots of use out of it - sadly I only made one pair of boys shorts for the smallest boy and they hardly got worn (mostly because they looked like pyjamas due to poor fabric choice on my part!). So I thought I would put it to good use and make her some items from the book. My first make was a pair of pyjama bottoms aka 'wide leg pants' This would have been an easy make had I read the instructions before I started - I happily traced the pattern adding the 1 cm seam allowance, cut it all out then read the instructions and realised I had not added the extra 3.5 cm at the waist for the elastic casing as well as the extra 2 cm for the bottom hem! Luckily they came up long so hemming was OK but I had to make a waistband and add it to the trousers - I have never done this before so it was a little fiddly but 'all's well that ends well':

    I added some button holes and threaded ribbon through them for a false drawstring, I'm so glad I took the time for this extra step as it makes them look more PJ like!

    I didn't have time to make her a top for the PJ's so I bought an inexpensive plain jersey top. She has been learning 'you are my Sunshine' on the ukulele recently and I thought it would be nice to embroider the words onto the top to personalise it - she loved it! Phew!

    My second make was planned as the smock dress (on the left) but with short sleeves:

    I had bought a beautiful (and expensive) Scandinavian designed cotton with colourful birds and flowers on it, looking back I chose to ignore the fact that when I showed it to my daughter she had politely said it was nice but you couldn't have said she was thrilled by it. 5 days before my daughters birthday I turned up to my sewing class temporarily abandoning my Colette clovers and armed with everything I needed to make the dress. I excitedly explained to my teacher about the dress, my teacher asked how old my daughter would be on her birthday, then looked at me and asked if I wanted her to be honest with me.........
     She explained (rightly) that the patterns in the book were 'up to' age 8 ie they were designed for much younger children and that given the fabric I had chosen the dress would probably end up looking like a nightdress, she said I needed to be looking at fabrics and designs that children my daughters age were wearing and go from there. I'm so glad she was honest with me and I instantly saw that she was 100% right.
  I began searching for 'tween' patterns with the added problem that my daughter is tall and skinny, will not wear buttons, is not keen on zips, refuses to wear trousers (other than legging's or jeggings at a push), and won't wear a skirt unless it has an elasticated waist. I struggled to find much that matched the remit, and my search is ongoing! Needless to say I did not manage to make the dress in time for her birthday but promised to make it the weekend afterwards.
   I needed something quick and easy and chose the go-to-shift dress

    OK so I realise that this is modelled on a younger girl and has a dreaded button, but I thought that with a belt it would still look quite grown up and by extending the neck bias binding I would be able to add a popper at the back rather than use a button. I chose an inexpensive fabric from Ikea that I thought had the right mixture of 'girliness' and 'funkiness'. I found the neckline way too high so I decided not to gather it as much as the pattern suggested - I should have positioned my minimal gathering all at the front centre neck but instead I followed the pattern instructions and spread it out so unfortunately after adding the bias binding I only had a few random pleats, it is still wearable and my little lady (or should I say tween) loves it!!

     She likes how the skirt flares out with the belt - so I will be trying to find a pattern with a fitted bodice and slightly flared skirt that is not too 'little girlish'. I think I have a long way to go before I understand her fashion ideas and taste in fabric and I know this will change rapidly as she gets older but hopefully it is a journey we can enjoy together as she grows up. I have certainly learnt a lot about myself and come closer to accepting that my little ones will not be little for ever and have their own tastes and ideas, I need to accept this and embrace it!

    Thanks for stopping by!!

             Su xx


  1. They grow up far too fast don't they? My eldest will be nine in June, time has flown. Good luck pattern hunting. Looks like she is happy for now with your makes though.

  2. They grow up far too fast don't they? My eldest will be nine in June, time has flown. Good luck pattern hunting. Looks like she is happy for now with your makes though.

    1. Oh yes far too much growing far too quickly! Although it was tiring I do miss the pre-school days when they were all at home!! She was pleased with her dress and it was quick to make - so I should be able to make another minus the mistakes!!

  3. What a lovely post! The PJs are great and the embroidered top is so cute. It's really tricky trying to predict what they will like. I made matching dresses in a mint green fabric with paper plans on it - I thought they were really funky: they have been worn once! Will you make more from that book? I couldn't bear the faff of adding seam allowances, hems etc.

    1. Thank you! - It is so hard to predict their ever changing tastes! and very depressing to have made something and then not have it worn! I think one of the reasons why I didn't make more from the book was the adding seam allowances business - I have an adult pattern book by the same author with lovely garments but again have only made one thing from it!