Sewing tiny clothes

Suzie Blackman
Friday, 8 March 2019

It’s been almost six months since I blogged about sewing projects. I feel like I have hardly had a moment to do any sewing, but counting them I have actually managed to churn out eight garments (OK, they are all quite small, but for me this is still a significant increase in output). Here they are:

1. Baby surf vest

A gift for my new niece, I love this organic cotton jersey print! I’m very pleased with how professional this one looks, although it was a little tricky to get binding around the legs neat. I forgot to take a photo after I’d added the snap buttons, after which it looked super professional. It was my first time using tool-fitted, snap buttons and I feel like they could well have fallen off a few days after this was gifted. The tongues I bought to fit them were flimsy and difficult to use, and I struggled to get the spikes through the seven layers of fabric at the binding. Although they looked great, I would probably use sew-on press studs next time. Full details of the pattern and fabric are on my Textillia project page.

2. Glittery baby joggers

Another gift my my niece, I made these super-simple joggers from glittery fabric I bought for a sweatshirt for my daughter, that was a bit thinner than expected but ideal for this project. See the project page for pattern, mods and fabric details.

3. Velour toddler sweater

This one was a Christmas present for my daughter. It had been worn and washed a few times before I took a picture, and the photo doesn’t convey how soft and lovely the organic cotton stretch velour is. I got the pile the wrong way up, and forgot to pre-shrink the fabric, but luckily I made it too big and she seems to love it, often reaching for it in the drawer, which makes me very happy. Project page

4. Glittery leggings

Poor quality photography is a running theme – most of these did not stay around unworn long enough for a beauty shot. My daughter seems to like leggings a lot, and I got this pattern hoping it would fit her but toddler sizing is completely random it was really big. I made these instead for a friend’s daughter’s third birthday. They were too big even for her, and she’s tall for her age, but she seemed very happy with them all the same. Same glittery fabric as before, ideal for leggings. Project page

5. Space shuttle toddler tee

This was such a fun project for my daughter. It was re-fashioned from from an old t-shirt of mine with an all-over digital print of the space shuttle Atlantis. I didn’t enjoy wearing this t-shirt anymore because a) it no longer fitted me well, b) it’s synthetic and I always feel like I pong in synthetic tops, and c) the stars on the shoulders made me paranoid I had awful dandruff. So, it would have destined for the textile bank but I got the ideal to re-use the fabric from pilar_bear. After a similar project she posted about how little fabric is left when you make a children’s garment from an adult’s, and she was not wrong. It surprised me that I did not even have enough of the original fabric for a sleeve, so I used some navy jersey for those. When I gave this to my daughter I showed her videos of the space shuttle (making very sure to choose one that didn’t explode) an she thought it was pretty cool. Project page

6. Toucan toddler pajamas

Another one for my daughter, and I just love them. By this point I was really getting the hang of a nice finish with stretch fabrics. She loves these and says “Mummy made it” whenever she puts them on! I hope to make several more pairs, and I’ve had a friend commission a pair in banana-print. The top and bottoms were based on two different patterns; project page top | project page bottoms.

7. Toddler surf tee

This one was a gift for a friend’s son. More of the awesome surf print, I’m hoping I’ve got enough of it left for a pair of pajamas combined with a plain colour. Project page

8. Toddler velour sweater dress

Another one for my daughter, and I pulled out all the stops, adding pockets, a patch and striped ribbing piece for maximum toddler appeal. She had a sweater dress that she was very fond of but rapidly growing out of, so I modified the t-shirt pattern I used for several of the other garments to create this. It was a BIG hit! This was my first time using an iron-on patch and it will probably be my last, as it fell off after three washes (but I found it and will sew it back on to prevent any possibility of a ladybird-related meltdown). Project page

What’s the secret? To this surge in productivity? My new friend the overlocker! After completing a couple of projects with stretch fabric on my new sewing machine, I realised that stretch fabrics would always be a challenge with a conventional sewing machine. I was lucky enough to find the overlocker I wanted for a good price second hand on eBay.

I had never used an overlocker before and it was a very steep learning curve. Threading it is… an experience, but once done, threads can then be changed by tying new to old and pulling them through. There are six different adjustment dials, and I’ve found that it took a lot of fiddling to get the stitches balanced, and minor adjustment every time I change the weight of fabric or thread. I initially found it hard to get a good finish, but YouTube helped with that. In general, it’s a very different style of sewing to what I was used to, but these projects come together incredibly quickly because finishing and seaming are done all at the same time.

I am absolutely an overlocker convert. I thought I didn’t have the money, space or level of sewing to justify one, but actually they’re very small, pretty cheap second hand and have allowed me to tackle new fabrics and garment styles with ease. I feel like every keen sewist should have one.

I have lots of ideas for stretch-fabric projects for myself; tops and t-shirts and even underwear, but I must admit the instant-gratification of children’s clothes is quite addictive.

The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.

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