Hello! Hope your week’s going well? This is another catch up post on my pre holiday sewing (I really did sew like a mad thing!) but it’s also about a couple of makes for my girls rather than for me.
I don’t know whether you ever sew for young girls, but when you start looking at available patterns, there can be a tendency for things to be oh-so-frilly and twee. Which can be all well and good if you’re sewing for a baby or for very girly girls. However when you start sewing for slightly older girls, you run the risk of some serious granny chic happening. Personally I think it’s one of the things that can really make kids’ clothes look handmade. So I tend to look out for more up to date kids’ clothes.
Last summer I made both girls the Elegance & Elephants “Pleated Playsuit”. This is a free pdf pattern which I’d highly recommend; made up in pretty cheap polycotton, both my girls chose their own fabric and ended up with a jumpsuit which they got lots of wear out of.
This year, clearly, I could just have made the same pattern again. But we’ve been to Florida and my girls have sadly inherited my pale, pale skin so I wanted something with rather more coverage on the shoulders.
I tried using The Foldline’s “#findmypattern” hashtag on this image of jumpsuits available from several high street stores this season which looked perfect
I had limited success though, as you can see! But then the Elegance and Elephants announced their new pattern, and it was this beauty.
The pleated playsuit (which again comes in short or long legged versions) looked to be the solution to my problems.
Except for that flippin’ big, sticky out, girly ruffle. I’m sure they’re adorable, but ruffles are just not my thing. And I’m not going to put them on my girls in a hurry. Such an easy problem to fix though!
So off I set to the market. I took some Disney fat quarters with me and bought coordinating cotton prints.
I may or may not also have succumbed to glittery Minnie and Mickey Mouse buttons…
I started with Katie, my 3 year old, whose favourite colour is yellow. No brainer, she got the Snow White fabric. I coordinated it with a yellow polycotton dotted with little red strawberries (which from a distance could be mistaken for an apple, if you tried hard enough!) The pdf was one of the nice ones with layers on so you only have to print out the sizes you want to grade between (which I always need to do for my tall, slender girls). Katie sat between the age 3 and age 5 (width v height) so I graded accordingly, cutting out the shorts length leg.
The pattern’s great, well drafted and includes a few nice finishing techniques, all of which are well explained in instructions that come with lots and lots of photos, which is always nice. The seams that weren’t enclosed in some way I overlocked for strength (Katie is NOT delicate with her clothes. Or anything else!)
I replaced the ruffle on Katie’s with some home made piping, following the By Hand London tutorial. I really like the effect; it breaks up the bodice front and back really nicely without getting the overly frilly effect.
Other than the burrito method which is used to attach the bodice to facing and which always makes my head hurt, this was a really straightforward sew. And it includes pockets, which is a winner!
It then took me a few weeks to get chance/inclination to make the second play suit (this, incidentally, is not sensible when sewing for sisters!) I actually made most of this one sitting in Sew Over It’s Islington shop when I was in London overnight with work. I was very glad I’d thought to bring the cut pieces, just in case I had time, as I was far more in the mood for sewing than I was shopping.
Beth’s jumpsuit was much the same as Katie’s, with a couple of exceptions. Firstly, the size difference (grading between age 5 and age 8!) meant that the 1m of pink cotton I bought on the market wasn’t quite big enough to cut both the facing and everything else from, so there was an emergency dash to Hobbycraft (my nearest craft shop) to get some plain pink, which thankfully they had reasonably cheap. It matched closely enough to make the facing without anyone being the wiser!
Secondly, as there was more contrast between the purple background of the Beauty and the Beast fabric and the pale pink of the body, I felt I needed something with a reasonable amount of substance to highlight those princess seams. I couldn’t settle on a bias colour I liked to emulate what I’d done for Katie’s suit and I didn’t like the two fabrics just flush against each other without that highlight.
In the end, I used giant yellow ric rac instead, hand basting it into place and checking the placement in advance to make sure it was relatively even. I really like this as it kind of hints at gold braid used in uniforms, which seemed appropriate for that kind of fairy tale.
So, in all, two relatively simple sews, nicely finished inside, and without the element of frill that I so dislike.
Obviously I didn’t avoid the twee factor, but we were going to Disneyworld, so is there really any such thing as OTT?
Also, Beth wore hers the day we did Enchanted Tales with Belle, where they pull people out of the crowd to play a part in a reenactment of the story; Beth was chosen to be Mrs Potts and did brilliantly for a normally shy child. Perfect outfit for it, don’t you think?
Happily, both girls absolutely loved their suits (and both passed the can-you-get-in-and-out-of-it-alone which is pretty important with a very independent 3 year old!)
If I’d had more time (and less stuff I wanted to sew for ME!) I would definitely have made the long legged version each as well, possibly in a lighter weight fabric which would have given more drape. I’m also somewhat taken with the free skirt which comes with the pattern, allowing you to make it into a princess seamed dress, so I can definitely see me using this pattern again.
Don’t worry though, normal service and further selfish sewing will resume with my next blog!