And now for Eldest’s Dressmaking

daisy chain nightie

Ta-Da! Another FIRST dressmaking project complete!

Following on from last week’s dressmaking, AJ’s nightie is now finished. Being 10, she did more of the sewing than her younger sister. I made a mistake with the sleeves, so I had to take over at that point, but apart from them and the neatening, she pretty much did everything else.

It was an interesting experience to see the process through her fresh eyes. A good thing to be asked to explain why. I also realise that I can still hear my needlework teacher’s voice. Reminding me. (I can hear my driving teacher’s voice sometimes too, but only when I’m driving!)

book before bedtime

So this is my chicken-wrangling, hoodie-wearing, harp-playing, bookworm, mountaineering daughter, and now she loves dressmaking too. She is very pleased with her first dressmaking success! (And in case I forget in the future, she does regularly borrow this number of books from the library, and read them all. At break-neck speed.)

daisy chain neckline

She has already mastered the sewing machine and iron. This sewing exercise introduced her to pattern preparation and cutting out. I asked her to list the different techniques she had learnt. She said that I could share them here:

Before you cut:

1. It takes longer to copy and prepare the paper pattern than she thought, but she can see that it’s necessary if she wants to re-use the pattern. Remember to iron the paper pattern as well as the fabric before pinning.

2. Take note of the grain line on the paper pattern. Make sure it lines up with the grain of the fabric, by using a tape measure to line it up with either a selvedge, or another grain line that’s been lined up with the selvedge.

3. Take note of all the markings on the pattern, such as “cut on fold” and cut interfacing (she “oohed” at the iron-on interfacing.)

tailor tack

4. She liked doing the tailor tacks for transferring “lining-up” marks from the pattern to the fabric.

5. When you pin, pin outwards to stop the fabric puckering into the middle, and pin at right-angles to the edge of the fabric.

pinning fabric

Cutting out:

6. When cutting out, don’t move the fabric and pattern on the table. Move yourself around the table instead, so you can comfortably use the scissors.

7. When cutting, rest the lower blade of the scissors on the table. When you cut the fabric, it should make a deep grinding sound! Gives a better cut than trying to do it mid-air.

8. Where possible, use the whole length of the scissor blade to cut out your pieces, not lots of short cuts, which makes for a jaggered edge. Conversely, line the tip of scissors up with corners, so you don’t risk overcutting, when you cut into them.

9. What is a selvedge. When to cut off and when to keep.

double notches

10. The triangular notches are cut outwards, otherwise the cut point could end up too near the stitches. You don’t have to cut the two peaks out for a double notch.

This is not a finite list. So much more I could add. When I think about it I could fill several posts on just this subject, but these are AJ’s learning points.

AJ is keen to do more dressmaking. The next pattern and fabric have already been picked out. There was a small bundle of trimming left over, but I have my eye on those for yet another project. Not the dinosaur fabric! That’s for my youngest, whose not quite old enough to reach the sewing machine pedal yet!

Details: pattern McCalls M6227
Fabric: brushed cotton

daisy chain trimmings


Just a side note: one of the reasons that I like to make clothes for the children is, that sometimes it is quicker to sew than search the shops for something suitable for my children to wear. Especially where my girls are concerned. There is an interesting discussion going on over at Se7en (here). Obviously a world-wide problem judging by the comments.

8 thoughts on “And now for Eldest’s Dressmaking

  • Wednesday 10 April, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    I love the fact that your daughter has made her first item. The stitching around the neck is so neat, she’s done so well.
    You saying about your needlework teachers advice. I can remember my teacher so well and was fortunate to find that she lived near to me later when I had children, I was therefore able to thank her for what she did for me.
    I always came top over the 4 years being taught by her and she wanted me to go further but me being the obstinate type I wanted to get out to work as soon as possible and of course now wish I’d taken her advice.
    Are you watching the Sewing Bee on tv? It’s making me all broody to get dressmaking again. lol.
    Please congratulate your daughter for me and I look forward to her next project.

    • Thursday 11 April, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Oh, thank you, Briony. I’ll pass on your congratulations. They have all been watching the Sewing Bee, although they began the project before it started. It’s helped to keep them inspired. In fact, it was the man in the fabric shop that told my eldest about the show. I saw the trailers and couldn’t see how it could work, but I am won round and the children love it too! I wonder if they’ll do a junior version like the baking show.

      I think it is wonderful that you were able to thank your teacher. I’m sure that it meant a lot to her to see you later. Hope you find a pattern to entice you back to dressmaking. I can tell its only a matter of time!

  • Wednesday 10 April, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks so much for the link… Wow… I never expected that post to cause so much discussion!!! Clearly folk have a lot to say about what clothes are available or rather what isn’t available… Love your sewing lessons!!! My kids are about to go from a couple of easy sewing projects a year – to the real thing. The time has come!!!

    • Thursday 11 April, 2013 at 11:05 am

      I think that this is a subject close to a lot of mothers’ hearts. Wishing you good luck with the sewing projects. I really am looking forward to seeing what your children make. 🙂

  • Thursday 11 April, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    oh this is just fantastic!
    another amazing first project! i love the trims she chose.

    • Saturday 13 April, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      Choosing the trimmings was a tough decision. So many great combinations and options to choose. I love the choices they made.

  • Thursday 11 April, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    What a lot of talent you have in your house! Looking forward to seeing future projects x

    • Saturday 13 April, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks Bridget. They are both enthusiastic. I think there will be more projects coming up soon. Only problem is that they are starting to bite into my dressmaking time. Maybe a second sewing machine is in order.

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