This was originally published in 1976, but is being reissued this summer with new illustrations by Patrice Barton. I don’t remember the original, but this version is certainly delightful.
The poem, by Mary Ann Hoberman, is especially appropriate at this time in my house. The girls have been wearing a lot of hand-me-downs, recycled clothes, and DIY clothes. Much like the kids in the book, they think it’s kind of fun to take something and make it their own (or have mom make it into something new – see my experiment here). I don’t think the girls think much about the life an item of clothing has lived before it comes to them, but the kids in the story sure do. They don’t want clothes that don’t have a story – they want to try and figure out how the clothes lived before they came to live with them.
It’s a great story and made me think (as a mom) about how thankful I am for friends who pass along clothes, and how I can take something and make it new to my girls.
Amazon Product Page
I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I have taken up sewing, primarily recycling existing items – husband’s old t-shirts, things I find at Goodwill or Salvation Army. This book is great for that. The author has lots of ideas about how to reuse clothing. Her patterns are not just to reuse the article of clothing, but to reuse the fabric in new ways. Also, in her introduction, she writes about the impact of discarded clothing on the environment, and how by reducing what you buy, reusing what you buy in different ways, and recycling used clothing can benefit the world.
One thing I really liked about the book is that she covers the basics for the beginning sewer – even how to make a pattern. On top of that, the patterns build on each other. You may make a pattern for one item that is reused later on for something similar. In addition, each pattern has a level – so you know immediately if you can handle it – both from a pattern making standpoint as well as a sewing standpoint. I found that very useful.
The pictures are all very pretty, the illustrations are good, and she gives ideas on how to mix and match the various patterns. I found that very useful, because I have a hard time matching things sometimes.
I haven’t made anything from her book yet, but the Trusty Pencil Skirt and Bell Jar Dress Coat are screaming “Make Me!!!” My one complaint is that a lot of the skirts and dresses were shorter than I would normally wear, so I would have to lengthen most of the patterns, which I am not sure how that would change the look.
Amazon Product Page
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via the NetGallery program. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
The skirt Autumn just had to have.
The other day, the girls and I were at the Salvation Army thrift store. We were looking for a chair, but I thought I would take a look at the clothes to see if anything jumped out at me. We were almost ready to leave when Autumn says, “Mom, can I have this?” In looking at it, it was a peasant-style skirt with sequins all over the bottom. Yep, it was the sequins that grabbed her attention.
So I picked it up – a $5.50 purchase. We took it home that night and I snapped the picture to the left. It was a little big for her, but I figured I could do something to make it fit. There was only one seam all the way down the side, but the top panel was lined, so I really didn’t want to rip it all apart. I wasn’t sure how I could take a deeper seam and still make it look good, plus she really liked how it spun out when she turned around.
Autumn said she wanted a crinkly top – like the other dress I made her. So we talked about it and decided to smock the entire top panel. But I wasn’t sure what to do about keeping it on her. I didn’t figure that it would stay up on it’s own, and a strapless dress is NOT appropriate for a 6 year old.
The dress Autumn loves!
The next morning, Autumn & I had our first fabric store trip. Boy, that girl likes sparkly things! She wanted some really goofy notions as straps on her dress, but we finally narrowed it down to a pretty 3″ lace notion.
She wanted crinkly straps too, so that was easy enough. In total, I probably spent less than 3 hours refashioning this skirt into a dress my daughter is very excited about, for a cost of less than $8.00.
The girls in the dresses I made for them.
I have been cruising craft blogs lately. Some of the blogs I have been looking at include: www.kojodesigns.blogspot.com and www.dana-made-it.com. They have lots of links to other blogs and they present ideas simply and beautifully.
I have wanted to learn how to make clothes, but haven’t had the time or the inclination to actually get started. I found a blog that had a pretty simple pattern for sale, so I bought it. Once I got up the courage to actually start, it seemed to go ok.
I learned a lot making these dresses – how to make a hem, how to use elastic thread, how to size a pattern, how to line a pattern, and how to fix something when I mess up.
Autumn’s dress is some of my great-grandma’s fabric. It is pink and white seersucker. This fabric is probably 30 to 50 years old and smells like my great-grandma’s house. I miss her a lot and I love the fact that I can pull out a piece of fabric and instantly be connected with her. I think she would have loved the fact that I am making a dress for her great-great-granddaughter.
Sky’s dress is made out of some older fabric, either my grandma’s or mom’s. It is pink and white check cotton, lined with plain pink cotton. I had issues with the elastic thread on her dress, and so it looks like there is a band of not-gathered fabric in the middle. Luckily, it looks like I did it on purpose. Sky’s dress was hard for me because I had to figure out how to line it and then how to make it all go together. On top of that, I had to take it apart and redo it to take 4 inches off the width. But that allowed me to fix the seams on the skirt and the lining so that it was correct.
Finishing these dresses gave me the inspiration to try something more difficult the next time. I have a couple of ideas already printed off and some fabric picked out.