So I’ve been secretly itching to make children’s clothes again, now that things are going pretty well with Piggledee. I used to make a lot of things for Miss M to wear when she was a baby, using commercial patterns (mostly from Japanese sewing books). But when she turned about two and a half, she began to be choosy about what to wear — flatly rejecting several of my lovingly-made outfits. Never mind it took me hours, or that I splurged on precious fabric like Liberty of London. She was unkind and ungrateful. I didn’t take those rejections very well, and I stopped making her clothes.
But now I want to try again, for several reasons. First, ready-to-wear clothes don’t fit Miss M properly. She has a stocky body with no bottom. Pants just fall off her butt. Dresses that fit her chest have sleeves that are too long. And so on. It makes sense to make it myself so things will fit her better. Second, I want to try my hand at pattern making. Not that I don’t like commercial patterns – I do, there are so many cute designs out there. But I’ve always wanted to know the logic behind those patterns, so I would understand better how to modify those pattens properly. Third, and most importantly, I am a huge Project Runway fan.
I used this book as a reference. Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear and Babywear, by Winifred Aldrich.
I made a basic body block using a combination of Miss M’s measurements and the standard measurements for 3-4 year-olds. This was a bit confusing at first, and I had to read and re-read the instructions several times.
For my first project, I wanted to make something rearlly simple. Also something that doesn’t require button holes because my sewing machine is broken in that regard. I decided to make an apron, like this one my mother had bought in Japan a while ago… and which is now a little too small for Miss M.
Cute, isn’t it? I totally ignored all the good design features like pin tucks, lace trim, the button closure, and even pocket. I copied the basic body block onto another sheet of paper, and drew over it to make it look like an apron. The square neckline looked tricky to sew, so I made it round. I also made the yoke longer so I wouldn’t have to factor the armhole curve into the bodice pattern. The back will be closed by two sets of ties. Simple, simple, simple.
I love that children’s patterns are so tiny each piece fits onto a regular A4 printer paper. The bodice part doesn’t have a pattern – it’s just rectangles (about 1.3 times wider than the yoke) to be shortened with a gather to fit the yoke. Can’t get any simpler. I used a home decor fabric I had in my stash, and sewed up a trial version this afternoon. Here it is!
I have to disclose that I had made aprons like this before, using a modified commercial pattern. So I knew how to put it together already. But the point of the exercise was to make the pattern from scratch.
I think it looks decent and wearable… if somewhat wider than I had imagined. Does a girl really need 12cm of ease around the chest? Hmm. Maybe for something like an apron, which may be worn over a sweater. But for a dress, maybe that’s a bit too much?
The yoke should have been a little longer as well, because around the armhole, it got a bit too bulky and unsightly.
I can’t wait to try it on Miss M when she comes back from visiting her grandmother. Then I’ll adjust the pattern and make a proper version – this time maybe with pin tucks and a pocket.
Then my next project will be… a jumper skirt. Not sure how to do it without a button hole but I’ll find a way.
So much fun.
Later: I did try the apron on Miss M. At first she was in a rejection mood, but when I pleaded “But Mommy made this for you! Can you please try it on?” – she brightened up and decided to wear it. The difference between 2 and a half and 3 and a half may be that she now has a budding sense of compassion. Or appreciation for other people’s efforts. Maybe.
Anyway the apron was a perfect size for her over winter clothing. It could be a little longer though.