Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sewing for older children

I have been sewing for my children (all 6 of them!) since my daughter, MM, was born. Her brother MD, was 3.

Anyway, they are now 17 (MD – the boy) and 14 (MM – the girl). There are 2 more girls, AM who is 12, and JP who is 4; there are then the 2 little boys – AP who is 9 and JT who is 7.

So, the standard questions I get about sewing for my older children are:

What do you sew for them?
How do you get them to wear it?

What do I sew for them? Everything!

My daughters enjoy me making their dresses, skirts, shirts, and pants. I don’t sew everything – sometimes it is a much better deal to buy something rather than sew it. However, I do know that most high-end things they want, I can replicate. Here is my process:

1. Window shop! My daughters and I go window shopping with our cell phone cameras and notebook in hand. We take notes, sketches, and sometimes, pictures. I write down type of fabric, colors, and key designs.

2. Home to dig through patterns that have similar features that can then be re-designed into the look they are looking for or to the store to purchase a new pattern.

~ Patterns for older children are a completely different thing. I use misses patterns for MM – because they have bust darts and such in them – something she likes (and needs now). I often will make a muslin for her – to correct the shoulder, bust and waist, and overall length (she has a long torso). She often designs her own clothes, giving me the drawing of what she wants based on what she has seen lately.

~ I also use misses patterns at times for my 12 year old, AM. She loves very simple, classic lines for her skirts and dresses – things that are definitely hard to find in girls’ patterns! (why the big 4 pattern companies think that my 12yo wants to dress like my 4yo is beyond me!) I will cut the pattern to either her waist or bust and then make my corrections from there on the muslin. I often save her muslins, as she tends to like the same patterns used again and again.

3. Once patterns are decided on, then we shop for fabric and notions! We always start at home with my fabric stash. Each child has their own bin of fabric – pieces that they have chosen over the last year. I also allow them (to a point) to look in my other bins (all 18 of them, and yes, they are all organized according to content – no comments today about being anal please – we will leave that for another discussion, ok?). Otherwise, we go shopping for the fabric they are looking for. I very rarely buy any fabric without them anymore (lesson learned the hard way – that bit of fabric became a dress for JP instead).

4. Once fabric and notions are in hand, they wash/dry their fabric and then help either with cutting out or with the younger children while I cut out fabric. I make sure to have current measurements and then start sewing.

How to get them to wear what I sew: I only sew things they want!

I don’t sew as much for them as I did when they were little (I still sew about 75% of my JP, the 4yo’s, wardrobe), but the things I do sew are things that they want and need. By allowing them to have control over pattern, design, fabric, and colors, they love the things I sew for them. At the moment, I have a blue jean mini-skirt cut and ready to sew this week for MM – because she couldn’t stand to spend $30 for one when she knew that the pattern only takes 1 yard for $10 plus the zipper for $1.75. She gladly bought the yard of denim and the zipper!

In the last 2 months, I have made for both girls: black leggings, 2 church dresses, 1 new knit shirt, and 1 new mini-skirt. They have a few more things that they want – new jackets for the winter and some longer sleeve shirts (plus the mini-skirt).

Sewing for my 17yo son, MD, is slightly different. He has a very distinct style (t-shirts and jeans). However, he does like the dress shirts and vests that I make him for church. He prefers me to make them at times because they are more fitted than what he can buy in the store.

So, to recap sewing for older children:

~Let them choose – everything! Style, pattern, fabric, color, and notions!

~Take your time sewing for them! While I can quickly sew, I take time and use all my skills to make my older children’s’ clothes. I want them to be impressed and proud of their couture clothing, which is exactly what I am making! They have learned to appreciate good fabric, good seams, and good techniques – which often leads them coming back for more!

1 comment:

  1. That's a very informative blog post, especially since I'm sewing more and more for my children, and hope they will keep wanting me to sew for them. Thanks for the tips!