Making children's clothes

Last week some gorgeous fabrics arrived from Melanie of Above All Fabric - one of my prizes for winning the A-line skirt category in Crafterhours' Skirt Week. I chose some of the Patty Young knits, as I've been coveting them and they are so expensive to buy in England. They are gorgeous. Thick, stretchy and soft, in beautiful colours. I love them. I chose half a yard of the lime and half a yard of the flower print and managed to make a twirly skirt and vest top from them...I had a 1/2" square of fabric left at the really did use every last snippet in making them - I can't believe how perfectly these two projects fitted into one yard of fabric! Thank you so much, Melanie!

The skirt is just like the last one that I made, which has been worn and worn, and is made from the Patty Young Yoga Skirt tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew! Zebra-girl declares it to be her comfiest skirt ever.

It has huge twirl appeal.

Unfortunately the tank top is a little big - here it is from the back - I've tied a little knot at each shoulder to bring it up to a better height, but I think it will be a better fit for next year as it's huge. I should have made a muslin and I should also have paid attention to the pattern calling for a knit fabric with a 20% stretch as the Patty Young fabric has something more like a 50% stretch. However, it was my first attempt at using a knit binding and I was surprised at just how easy it is to apply - I also love that you don't have to use lots of material by cutting the binding on the bias.

Despite not being happy with the vest top that I made, I am completely enamoured with the book that the pattern came from. It's called Sewing Clothes Kids Love and is worth buying just for the inspirational pictures and excellent text alone. However, the patterns are wonderful - the vest is in theory a simple garment, but I was struck by the beautiful curve on the bottom of the pattern pieces and how nicely the underarms were shaped. I found the instruction as simple as a Japanese pattern (in that I didn't look at the text, just the pictures).

My only reservation is that most of the photos that I've chosen to show here are the more accessible looking ones from the book...but many of the fabric choices are really quite extreme and some have frills and bodicing that I think make the child look trussed up, rather than dressed for fun (see below).

I looked through the book with Zebra-girl - we both loved many of the projects, but disagreed somewhat with the author's statement that with children's clothes more is always better: Zebra-girl looked like she'd wish to sink into the pavement if I actually made any of these clothes up combining quite so many brightly coloured fabric prints and motifs in one garment. However, I'm excited about the idea of making some of these clothes up in more subdued fabric choices (and by subdued I only mean comparatively - they will still be brightly coloured).

The book has a comprehensive introduction, that is so well and interestingly written that I read every word of it, and by the time I came to the patterns I had complete confidence that they would be perfectly drafted and come together well (the vest top did come together really well - it was my fabric choice that was at fault...or at least not thinking to compensate for the extra stretch) the book feels like it's written by an expert in childrens' garment construction, which is reassuring. I loved some of her logic behind fabric choice - even though I don't have a child who would wear such a bright mixture of colour and pattern, I can see that the pieces in the book do work visually - and I loved her rule that any motif on a fabric should be no bigger than 3" wide to avoid the pattern overwhelming the wearer - this makes perfect sense to me. The book instructs you on some really useful things, such as making a duct tape mannequin, and sewing with knits. And just like Japanese patterns, these come without the seam allowances included, which I find makes things so much easier.

It also includes many unisex patterns for jackets, t-shirts and hoodies and I'm planning on making this jacket for Zebra-girl, and possibly for Dinosaur-boy too, for the autumn...and what delights me most is that it's lined. So many pattern books don't include a lining for clothing, relying on beautiful-looking pictures to delight the reader, rather than the pattern being truly versatile and wearable. This book is very different in that respect - many of these patterns are quite involved and none of them feel like page fillers or as though the simplest option has been taken. Additionally, where an item is unisex the pattern nearly always includes an option for more feminine shaping at the waist, or for added gathers at the sleeve.

So despite my reservations about a few of the patterns, the book is really wonderful. Yes, the fabric combinations are outlandish at times, but it is never dull and will certainly inspire me to be just a little more adventurous than I might otherwise be. So brace yourselves...things could get wild.

Wishing you a happy week,
Florence x


  1. Love the skirt and top Florence. I'd like to hear more about sewing with knit - I have no experience of it. I have some Patty Young and coordinating knits arriving in the shop soon, apparently they have 15% shrinkage - did you notice this when you washed them?

  2. I've been wondering about this book as I only saw the trussed up patterns online - sounds as if I need a trip to a bookshop to look properly. Meanwhile, I've been looking for knits to make some Ottobre patterns (I usually avoid knits but these patterns are too irresistible) so I shall try and track down some Patty Young - keeping an eye as always on M is for Make. I'm promising myself sewing time as from September, and I have three tiny girls to sew for.

  3. Aren't those Michael Miller knits dear? I have no girls to sew for or I would have loaded up for sure....I'm sure I would get looks if I made something for myself out of this, haha.

  4. Thanks for the review on this book - I've been a little skittish to sew clothes but have been wanting to try the those knits are so darn cute.

  5. Hi Kate - yes, they did shrink - and remembering that makes me even happier as it means that those things were actually made out of less than a yard - hurrah!

    Jane - oh, tiny girls are even more fun to sew for as you use so much less fabric. I too have loved some of the things I've seen online in Ottobre this month - yet to buy a copy.

    Bethany - there is a actually a black and grey stripe that I think looks quite mature!

    Thanks Susan - yes do have a go.

    Florence x

  6. I read a review of that book and have been really interested to get my hands on a copy. However, it seems to be geared more towards girls.
    Do you think it would be a worthwhile purchase for me to make as a mother of three boys and no girls around to sew for?

  7. I got the book last month and can not stop making clothes for my daughter. The patterns are very easy to alter. I have made the pants, leggins, the knited shirt with hood, and have altered the shirt to a tunic with a ruffle at the hem. I just finished making the tank top pattern into a tiered gathered summer dress. I love this book and the inspiration, but I do agree that the fabrics and trims are a bit too much. I have never worked with knits before last month and it is now my favorite. I can not believe I waited so long.

  8. Oh, I'm glad you did this first so you could tell me about it Florence. I've been on the verge of making knit binding for awhile now but have been avoiding it. It looks like yours went perfectly, so maybe you have some pointers? Can I just use a straight stitch and not worry about stretching? Did you use a double fold method? Did you top stitch through all layers, or sew to the front of the garment first, then flip over and stitch the back? As you can see, I have many questions. :)

  9. Even when I had a coat pattern (first proper pattern that I sewed) that included a lining, it still gave no instructions on how to put in a lining, so I just made it up as I went along. Ever since I've always noticed how many patterns just skip the lining. I'm still not sure if I am doing linings the right way, mind...

  10. Hi, I have the book.....and adore it, my auntie has just made my daughters the brown skirt pictured, we used kaffe fassett...and some polka dot, left off the ribbons, but I did copy the ricrac, frill and braiding, cloth kits ribbon excellent!! the girls call it their princess skirts!
    love your skirt and vest top, really look great



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Florence x