Friday, 4 July 2008

Sewing for my girl

More fun sewing this week, and a bit of knitting too. I'm really good at buying patterns, books, yarn and fabric to sew and knit things for me or the children, but not quite so good at ever getting around to finishing anything.

I've been feeling a fair amount of guilt just lately at the fact that I was intending for my daughter to have a handmade Summer wardrobe this year, and I haven't actually made that much yet. Such good reasons for going down the handmade route too - not least a reaction against this culture of buying mass-produced clothing items for a couple of pounds or so, when they can't possibly be ethically produced at those prices (this is something I've been thinking about particularly since the latest child labour scandal was uncovered by the UK media). Another element is the whole nostalgia thing, as my mother made so many of our clothes as children, and I have really strong memories of being excited as I waited for a dress to be finished, or for my sister to outgrow something so that it would be mine. My mum almost always made us a little matching purse with a long strap to wear with the new frocks. I think my little girl would love that!

So, craft fair over, I've got time to get stuck into some sewing for my little girl. First up a little smock top (or what we used to call gipsy tops when we were little - a bit of a nostalgia trip in this project!) in Liberty Tana lawn.

The pattern is Butterick B4118. I've used it before to make the little cropped trousers, but this was the first top I'd made from the pattern. I was really pleased to find that my daughter's measurements put her at the top of the age-range for the pattern, as this meant there was no need to trace to preserve the pattern for bigger sizes - how liberating it felt to just cut straight into the tissue paper!

As ever though, when it comes to me and clothes sewing, the fit just wasn't right. I noticed as I cut out the pattern that the length of the top looked a little on the skimp side, so I added a good couple of inches to the bottom of the top. Even so, it turned out far too short, especially in view of the fact that my girl likes to wear her jeans and skirts low slung. I was not really aiming for the 'malibu barbie' look! Looking again at the tops as pictured on the pattern envelope though, they do look as if they're meant to be short, so it probably (?) wasn't just me.

(Incidentally, when I made the trousers the crotch was so low it was practically at her knees, so I had to cut a few inches off the top - maybe they were designed to meet the shortfall in the length of the top??).

The solution: a ruffle on the bottom from the scraps of fabric I had left over. I've always hated gathering and found that I get very uneven results, but this time, with a double row of gathering stitches, which I normally couldn't be bothered with, I avoided all the usual unintentional tucks and pleats.

So there's one happy mummy, and my daughter loves the top too (she reckons the ruffle looks like a tutu, and I'm not going to argue!). Look, french seams and everything:

Next up, a skirt to go with the top from my new favourite Japanese craft book, Girly Style Wardrobe, probably in a lightweight denim, and very possibly with a heart motif and binding from the tana lawn on the pocket.

Also in the works and long overdue for completion is this cardie with a crocheted border. The colour is perfect with the top; hoping to have this one finished tonight.

So with weekend-wear almost sorted, I'd better make sure I take my daughter out and about somewhere to do some twirling in her new top!


  1. Oh cute! My daughter would love that top too. I also have memories of my mum making my sister and I matching summer dresses with lots of ric rac trim!

  2. Really cute top! But why are the commercial patterns so confusing and odd?

    I am in awe of the seams. Top notch :)

  3. What a great sewing! I remember my mum made me a nice embroidered tote for me to take to my school and I was so excited. There is definitely something special about handmade clothes.

  4. It looks gorgeous! I need some liberty Lawn....

  5. Very cute gypsy top and in a great print too. Sometimes the commercial patterns do fit oddly, great idea to add the ruffle.

  6. Wow, those are adorable - great job adjusting the top! And French seams??? Did the pattern call for that or did you just do it to make it better? I think the top is really cute, and that skirt will be great!

  7. You sew such lovely things...this is really cute!

  8. Beautiful little top - so cute. I love that ruffly look.

  9. Hi Helen. Yep, its very easy to buy lots of patterns, fabrics and yarn and then take a long time to make things.

    I love your daughter's top. She will have plenty of opportunity to show off during the Summer Holidays.

    My Mum use to make a lot of clothes for me every Summer when I was young. It was always nice to have clothes that your friends can not have.

    Well Done.


    BTW do you need an overlocker to make clothes? Or can I get away with using a sewing machine?

  10. Hello there. This is the first time I have visited your blog and I love it! Off for a read through now xx

  11. What a sweet top. I have a boy so have not been able to make him any cute dresses or tops. He was an unwilling model of some little hats and dresses I made to sell a couple of years ago. I really should have taken some photos to embarass him when he is older!

  12. Thank you everyone!

    Mary - I don't have an overlocker, though I would love one! I think the French seam is a good solution as it's so neat and strong too. In places where I can't use a French seam (e.g. armholes), I just zigzag or pink, which works well.

  13. So lovely! I like that it kinda looks like a tutu. Tutus are fun to wear!

  14. I love the new top for your girl. I found the butterick shorts to be huge, too. I made a trial run and then adjusted from there. but it is still much easier to fit homemade clothes on a little one rather than me. :)


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