When a girl designs her own dress

We sat on her bed, looking at the contents of her wardrobe. After flicking through the rail, I finally agreed with her. All her dresses were not suitable for a near-teen. It didn’t help that since last summer she has stretched. I mean really stretched. Dresses were now tunics and the rest were too young.

More dresses were definitely required. (Music to a mother’s ears, who likes to sew.)

It was a Saturday morning. The fabric shop would be open. Heading downstairs, I selecting a few possible patterns from my collection and let her choose.

Being a near-teen, she has clear ideas about what she likes. It is a fearless state of mind. She doesn’t seem to compromise and worry about what her friends will think. She knows what she likes and what suits her. I hope she never loses that clarity.

The making of the dress

She opted for Simplicity 5234. A simple dress, that gave a variety of combinations. Different options for the neckline, yoke fabric and sleeves, while the dress stayed the same, simple shape. She could design her own dress. How good is that? She was decisive and went for view B. She wanted a lace overlay, with cap sleeves.

Fearless, I tell you.

Next stop, the fabric shop.

It didn’t take her long to spot the perfect watery-blue. We looked at several laces and background fabrics, finally settling for a white, soft lace against white fabric.

Secretly, I was pleased she chose this dress pattern. I knew it would be quick to make and perfect for a wedding we were all going to this weekend. The dress is a pullover. No zips or buttons. A simple shape with a tie at the back.

I’ve not worked with lace before. The sleeves needed gathering at the top to ease them into the armhole. I found the combination of lace and gathering fiddly, but got there in the end.

Originally, she wanted the long version of the dress, but once fitted, she realised that the hem would work better for her as the short version. I cut off a couple of inches. If she changes her mind, I can easily add it back on.

The pattern was quick to make and no advanced tailoring. A great choice if you’re starting out on your dressmaking journey. The instructions are straightforward. If I was to make it again, I think it would take me an afternoon.

Why it matters that she designed it

She loves her new dress. The dress she designed. She’s not one to ask for lots of things, but when I prompted her, she did say she’d love another using the same pattern. I think I can manage that.

I’m glad we took this route. Yes. I could have let her loose in any number of clothes shops, with a purse full of money. I daresay, she would have found an outfit she liked. Maybe it would have been a compromised choice as closing time neared. This dress should last her a while (especially if I add the length back on). Unlike a shop bought outfit, it will not look easily dated. Eventually she will grow out of it, but it’s not destined to be thrown away in a matter of weeks/months as so much of our fashion goods are in this country. As the fashion passes.

It may seem like a small thing, but I love that I was able to give her control of the design.

I try to bring my children up not to be sheep. Following others blindly, without a thought. They may roll their eyes, but they’re also the first to point out when they see others following for the sake of following. I can also see in their actions that they understand. My daughter loves to draw. She loves to design. Doing it this way meant she could take her skill and transfer it to something she could wear. She led rather than being led by others. She designed it. She did it. Confidence boosted a notch or two more.

She wore her dress to the wedding and had a great time. She said it was an easy dress to wear.

Bizarrely, after the wedding, in a way that no one could ever have co-ordinated the timing so perfectly, we stepped out on to the pavement, and straight into the Bath carnival.

The music and dancing swept us all away. I had wondered if my dress (and this blue one) might be too bright for a wedding. Apparently not this wedding. Not with a carnival to finish off the proceedings.

Linking up with Crafting On and …

Mother of Teenagers


18 thoughts on “When a girl designs her own dress

  • Monday 17 July, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Nice! A good collaboration, and the circlet completes the picture. You girls were dressed properly for a day wedding and street festival, as you said. Perfect!

    • Friday 21 July, 2017 at 8:20 pm

      I enjoyed working with her on this one. 🙂

  • Tuesday 18 July, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Your girl is very lucky to have a mother like you that can sew so well….
    That dress is beautiful. Perfect for the summer x

    • Friday 21 July, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Kim. I think it will get a lot of use this summmer.

  • Wednesday 19 July, 2017 at 9:59 am

    This dress is absolutely gorgeous. I wish that I could sew, it must be lovely to be able to tweak a pattern to make a completely unique dress!


    • Friday 21 July, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      It certainly is a good feeling. I’m sure you could sew.

  • Wednesday 19 July, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I have a girl like that too- one minute she is a little girl- the next all the dresses are too ‘cutesy’ and I realize woah! She’s a young LADY now. Ack! How nice to have a Mama who can help with that. Because the standard fare for tween/teen is not always the greatest when buying new.

    Beautiful dress (she has good taste!).

    visiting from crafting on….

    Rebecca of Renaissance

    • Friday 21 July, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      They do grow up so quickly. Ah yes. Teen fashion is a mixed bag. A journey they all make.

  • Wednesday 19 July, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I love this! Some very impressive needlework skills. What a sense of achievement in creating something so brilliant. Lovely pics of the carnival too! Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring post at #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Friday 21 July, 2017 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks Sharon. It was good to see her getting involved.

  • Wednesday 19 July, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Cheryl, I hope your daughter doesn’t lose clarity either. There is a lot to be said for being individual and knowing what you want. The fact that your daughter could design her own dress is great, and the fact that you could knock it up is fab too. My Mum is a fabulous seamstress, unfortunately, her passion never got transferred to me or my sister (something she could never understand). Although I do sometimes think it would be nice to be able to sit down and create something out of a piece of fabric.

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.


    • Friday 21 July, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      I’m convinced everyone can sew. Given time. I hope I can pass on the enthusiasm to my chidren.

  • Thursday 20 July, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Good for her for doing her own thing and getting stuck in. Much patience needed for that and the girl did good. Your carnival picture took me back to Barbados for a moment. Thanks for sharing with #tweensteensbeyond

    • Friday 21 July, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      She loved how it turned out.

    • Friday 21 July, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks Joanne. She does love her new dress.

  • Monday 24 July, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Cheryl I am so jealous of how easy you made this sound. Like yours my daughter has gone through a massive growth spurt and it has been a nightmare recently finding outfits. How wonderful to be able to turn around and just make something, I just couldn’t do it. I love the blue colour and the lace detail on the top. She is a lucky young lady to have a seamstress for a mum! #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Monday 24 July, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      It was great taking her design and making it. Challenged me too. I’ve never considered using lace in my sewing, so no experience, apart from dressing peg dolls and that was not helpful in this case! It’s a good job I can sew, as there are so many things I’d rather be doing than clothes shop. 😀

Comments are closed.

Follow by Email