My Girl

1 my girl1 fit and flare bodice and circle

Fitted dresses are not very suitable for small children as they tend to have rather large stomachs“.  I’m  always amused when I read this sentence from Winifred Aldrich’s instructions on constructing ‘the Classic Dress Block’.  To my imagination (fed on too much fiction), it suggests children to be a separate species: alien, greedy, inconvenient….

My daughter, who just turned eleven, is at the upper end of the height range for Aldrich’s girls block and I think this ‘fit and flare’ style really works.  The first bodice was far too short and wide and took two more muslins to get right but they were simple to make and very little shaping was required: the side seams took care of the fit with the only darts being the 1.5cm wide nips from the back neckline to each shoulder blade.  After making the bodice, I cut the skirt based on the measurement of the garment waist, working out the radius and cutting this out as a circle from the remaining fabric first folded into 4.  (By Hand London has a really clever Circle Skirt App that does this more easily but I don’t think theirs is the most efficient use of fabric if you haven’t got much.)

1 flareWould you believe that this short skirt has more than 3m of circumference at its lower edge?!  I bought some bargain bias binding and hemmed with that: it’s a much quicker way to hem a circle than all that folding and pinning.

1 Back view

But while sewing for girls isn’t as tricky as fitting a woman’s bodice, there can be, er,  complications.  Some children are very ticklish.  Not to mention absolutely terrified of you coming at them with a tray of pins!

Oh the dramatics we had, and the cajoling…

This was made for the Year 6 Leavers’ Production of Peter Pan (Year 6 is when UK children leave Primary School).  My daughter practiced hard and read for several parts in the auditions with the hope of being Tinker Bell – she of the emerald bodice, iridescent skirt and a doughnut in her hair!  Instead she was chosen for the part of Narrator.  There are some wonderful costume opportunities in Peter Pan, for girls and boys.  I remember a sticker book of Disney characters I had as a child.  How I loved Tiger Lily with her smooth black hair.  I‘d have loved to dress in moccasins and fringed suede.  But for the Narrator’s role, all that was required was an “occasion dress”.  I kept it simple.  Zip, velvet ribbon, bias binding and Japanese cotton fabric (from Stitch) cost under £15, so no great loss if she never wear this again – though she bloody well should!

I’m very proud of my daughter.  She has tried hard to make her mark in a large primary school with 120 pupils in her age group.  Over the years, she has produced work of super quality, played her ukulele in school concerts with confidence and calm and bounced back from setbacks with admirable resilience.  She insists that I don’t teach her to sew so imagine my delight when from time to time she astounds us by producing  gifts of soft toys she made by following internet tutes  🙂

1 Crunchy, Lemmy Substitute and Kiwi

Left to right: Crunchy, Lemmy Substitute and Kiwi

17 thoughts on “My Girl

  1. lovely dress. My daughter is in year 7 and growing far too quickly. I’ve used Aldrich’s women’s drafting book, even for children with great success, just needs a bit if common sense applied.

  2. She looks just right for the extremely important role of narrator.
    My eldest daughter resisted any attempts of mine to teach her to sew and then, when she turned 20 a year or so ago, she asked for a sewing machine for her birthday so you never know.
    I am impressed with her soft toys as I can’t master the stuffing process myself and am fond of Kiwi in particular.

  3. Do Stitch have a shop where I could go? I am planning a trip in London end of August, a promise to my goddaughter for her 18, and I may escape a couple of hours to get there… Or if you have other suggestions…
    Congratulations to your daughter.

  4. Your daughter is so like you – just lovely! But this post is really all about you and your memories which are just as precious. Be a proud mummy – they really do grow up too quickly……

  5. What a poised young lady. Resiliance, too, must be the most important thing one can ever learn. I can understand why you are so proud. A lovely dress and great story.

  6. What a very pretty dress – feminine but also very grown up. I love the belt. Much nicer to making that than a tinkerbell costume – this one can be worn everywhere.

    Those soft toys are amazing! She is talented in so many ways – how wonderful. I love the running away (from the pins?) picture very much – pure geometry. I used Winnie for kids clothes and always thought the tummy comment was ridiculous – my daughter always had sticky out pelvic bones from about 8.

  7. The Narrator is the most important character in the story, don’t you know! She’s picked a fine dressmaker.

    The ticklish people had to get over it if they wanted another plaid vest. The older one learned how to sew in a high school class, I only found out about it because a quilted pillow he made was in the school office window with his name on it. He made me a lovely reversable apron with Beauty and the Beast on one side, dinosaurs on the other. Boy knows what Mom likes!

  8. Such an elegant lass. I was a kid with a sticky out belly – so they do exist Marianna! My Mum used to have me stand for what seemed like yours making ballet costumes and once when she was pinning a black and purple witches costume – which I still treasure, a huge cockroach slipped down the neckline; I was hysterical. So maybe tell your lovely daughter, there are worse things than sewing voodoo, at least in Australia!

    • Ooh, that’s a great horror story …. which I hope to soon be able to use! As for bellies, I love ’em (I don’t even mind mine which is of the ‘pot’ variety) but I do find the choice of term ‘stomachs’ a bit peculiar and funny.

  9. Well, not only does she look so much like you ( love the very confident pose in photo one) she has obviously inherited your creative talents!
    I remember lots of times as a child standing on a table while my Mum pinned my hem. For some strange reason, it always seemed a big deal and hard to get right. Hems now are the least of my problems in fitting, so it puzzles me now.

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