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Welcome to my Blog

I am a grandmother to 4 little girls. I blog about the things I make for them, review patterns, provide tutorials on how I've dealt with techniques or problems, which I hope may help others, and give links to the (mostly) free patterns I use. Every so often, I do a 'Best of..' post listing the best free patterns I've found under specific headings - babies, girls, boys etc. Enjoy the Blog!

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Free Dress Patterns for Girls - Page 1 of 2

This is part of my series of posts for free PDF patterns for clothes for little girls. I've already covered clothes for babies and toddlers.  For posts on babies from about 3 months up to crawling, see this post. I've covered older baby and toddler clothes up to about 18 months, in this post. And clicking on the tabs at the top will provide you with hundreds of ideas for clothes, as well as accessories for babies and children.

So this 2 page post now is for girls from about 2 upwards, right up to 12, and more specifically, dresses, which I haven't covered comprehensively before. I've found literally hundreds of free PDF patterns for girls' dresses, and used many of them. Even though I've split it, it's going to be a long post! Page 1 (this one) includes only patterns for girls that come in sizes up to and including 6. And page 2 of this post covers patterns which can be also used from age 7 plus. Though you will find a lot for girls younger than 7 on page 2 as well, as some of the patterns go from (say) 18 months to age 8. It may seem a bit arbitrary to separate them into the second page, but my reasoning was, there are lots of patterns for younger girls - not so many for the older ones. As you'd expected, being free, some patterns work better than others.  I've done my best to weed out the no-hopers. But I've tried to be fairly comprehensive - people like different styles.

To find links to patterns for girls from about 18 months or 2, up to 6, read on.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Free Dress Patterns for Girls - Page 2 of 2

This is the continuation of my post for free PDF patterns for clothes for little girls, page 2 of 2. You are definitely in the right place if you want patterns for girls aged 7 and above. However, many of these patterns include smaller sizes too.  All the pictures in this post are of dresses I've made for my grand-daughters. As you'd expected, being free, some patterns work better than others. I've tried to weed out most of the dross!

I've opted to divide this post into 2 pages: This one, for patterns which include sizes for age 7 and upwards, many of which do also have smaller sizes; and the other, for patterns for girls up to 6. So if you are looking for patterns for girls younger than 7, do have a look on this page, but you might also want to go back to Page 1, with patterns for girls up to 6. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Free A-Line Patterns

As you'll have gathered if you are a regular reader, I'm a huge fan of a basic A-line pattern, I think it's the most versatile. See what I mean on this post

 However, some of the free A-line PDF patterns that I used to use no longer seem to be available, or if they are, they are not supported. Either that, or the girls have outgrown the sizes available. Most of the dresses I made last year have used a pattern I've designed, drawn on newspaper. So I will shortly be putting my own pattern on the blog, it will be free, and will have a number of sizes. In the meantime, here are some I have used, they may work for you. 

Let's talk pockets - and some free pocket templates

As well as having a practical purpose, pockets can be a great decorative feature for children's clothes. And kids love them. It's very easy to design pockets, but in case you don't want to design your own, I have some templates for you. 

Here's a little pair of reversible trousers in age 9-12 months. I made them so the pocket on each face would be on the left leg. These were tiny pockets, each just a simple rectangle with the edges turned in - just big enough to get a little Duplo figure in, for example, or a little dinosaur.

And these little plasticized toddler play aprons each have a single layer round-bottomed pocket attached, edged with double-fold bias binding tape. Useful for putting the crayons in, or mixing spoons while baking!

To get more pocket ideas, or to find about more about how to make pockets, and to find my templates, read on!

Friday, 1 November 2019

More about play-suits

Two new play-suits this summer! 

Last summer, I had made play-suits, on request, for two of my grand-daughters. It takes a lot to persuade them into dresses, especially the older one. Something they could actually play in, and climb trees in, and run about in, was what they wanted. So I had come up with a design for play-suitsThese evolved as I made them, and I've learned more while making the two new ones. This was the first one I made, from 100% cotton. The second one was better, and was made of a knit fabric. In fact, the knit version was still in wear this summer. 

But by this summer, the larger 100% cotton one was completely outgrown, and the smaller knit one, though still chosen often to wear, was also really getting tight in the body length. (The knit one from last summer is on the right in the picture below - she still liked wearing it but it wasn't really that comfortable. One of the two new ones from this summer is on the left.) 

To find out how I made these new play-suits, read on.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Attaching a woven skirt to a knit top - a tutorial

I like the relative crispness of a woven skirt, but a knit top to a dress has many advantages too. If you have a dress that is all woven, you will normally have an opening with some means of closing it in order to get the dress over the head or hips. (Exceptions might be peasant style dresses or dresses with shirring, which can then be stretched over the head to get the dress on.) With a knit dress, you may or may not have an opening, Often the neckline will be stretchy enough to get the dress on without the need to undo anything. Where you have a knit bodice and a woven gathered or circular skirt, you need to retain some stretchiness in the top of the skirt, unless you plan to put in an opening that goes down into the skirt. (And why would you want to do that if you didn't need to?)

This became one of my grand-daughter's favourite dresses that summer - it was so easy for her to get it on and off herself. To find out how to attach a woven skirt without losing the stretchiness in the waist, read on.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Girl Patterns - Baby Girls - Page 2, Crawlers to Toddlers

This is page two of a post covering free PDF sewing patterns for baby girls. Page 1 covered babies up to about crawling age, though there is obviously some overlap, so do look at Page 1 as well. Some of the patterns do come in multiple sizes.

The majority of the patterns I've covered in these two pages are for dresses, as I've already covered more unisex clothes (pants, hats, bibs and aprons etc) in separate posts. So do a search in the search box on the blog if you want something less obviously girlie. I will also be following up soon with posts on patterns for older girls, or c. 2 years upwards. 

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Making a toddler backpack - pattern review

There is a  pattern, generously offered free, for a toddler backpack / rucksack, by Indietutes, which has been around for a while. But I still think it holds up, and has the advatange of being a really simple make. This is my pattern review and contains the link to the pattern.

Monday, 14 October 2019

A peasant dress with a pleated neckline

This lovely 100% cotton fabric was chosen by chosen by one of my granddaughters when I had promised her a new peasant dress. 

It is quite a thick cotton, and even after washing, I thought it would actually be less suitable for a peasant style dress than if it had been thinner material. However, I'm quite pleased with the finished result, with pleats around the neckline rather than gathers, and it has certainly been worn a lot.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

This year's summer shorts - Superheroes mark 1 - Oliver+S pattern review

This post is going to be part pattern review and part tutorial. And part - how to get kids shorts out of two fat quarters. 

I started with the aim of using the Oliver+S Sunny Day shorts pattern (a free PDF) and reviewing it. But I found I had so much more to say than what a good pattern this is, and how grateful I am to the author, that it's also become something of a tutorial on how to get the best out of it.

Monday, 7 October 2019

An A-line dress with a bodice yoke and layers

This is yet another variation on the basic A-line dress - the most versatile dress style there is, in my humble opinion! This one has a bodice yoke, and a deep frill. You could do more layers, or course. 

Here's how to make something like this delightful little rabbit dress.

Wrap dress for girls - a Tulip Hem dress for 5 and 7 years - with thanks to BloomsnBugs

Two to three years ago, I was busy making Tulip Hem dresses from the Blooms and Bugs pattern, designed for c. 3 year olds. (Big thanks to the BloomsnBugs blog!) See my earlier postBut I haven't made any since then, because I haven't had three-year-olds to make dresses for. The Tulip Hem dress is a pretty design, with a wrap over front. Here's one I made earlier for Jane when she was 3.

Although BloomsnBugs fasten theirs with buttons, I used strings (a pair inside and out) to allow for growth widthwise. 

Read on to see how to make one in a larger size (with a new free pattern).

My free PDF patterns - tutorial

On my blog, I've provided a number of free PDF patterns. I'm not a professional designer, these are all things I've made successfully for my grand-children. So I don't have sophisticated layers, or A0 printing, or 12 sizes on each pattern - they are fairly simple. But you may want a few tips for how to use them.

They are intended for printing at home, on either A4 paper or letter paper. You should download them and print them from your computer, for example using Adobe Acrobat, rather than printing them out directly from the internet - that way you can control the printing size. They should all be printed 'Actual Size' i.e. no scaling. They should also be printed single-sided if there is more than one page. (I've made that mistake before, when I forgot the printer had last printed a double-sided document.)

All include seam allowance as described in the relevant tutorial. On most patterns, this is 3/8" or 1 cm. But check the tutorials.

There are four different types, which will need to be used in slightly different ways.

1) On some patterns, such as the Girls' Wrap Dress, or the Girls' Pinafore Dress, the pattern runs to a few pages (but not dozens!) They all include a test square, generally on Page 1, so I suggest you print just that page first to check it is printing correctly. These patterns have letters to indicate which pages join together. But the pattern is all contained within a border. You can either trim off all the borders after printing and put the sheets edge to edge to join them, or (my preference) just trim one of two adjacent borders, and move the trimmed piece so that the edge overlaps the untrimmed sheet. (You may need to trim, say, a side and a top border from some pages.) This shows (on another draft pattern) how the pages overlap and the letters, A, B, C etc match up. The letters may be in circles or diamonds.

Use sticky tape or stick glue to attach them together. Then you can trace the size you want, or cut round the size you want, ready to use to cut out your fabric. Note the markings:

  • Straight grain - the pattern piece should be placed on the straight grain i.e. parallel to the selvedge
  • Place on fold - the fabric should be folded so you put this line against the fold - do not cut along this line.
  • The small circles in the corners of pattern pieces mark the seam allowance. (On multi-size patterns, having the complete seam allowance drawn in could be very confusing!)
  • The small triangles on the edges of each pattern piece are so that you can match them when sewing seams.

2) Like the Girls' Wrap Dress, some other patterns also include a test square for sizing, and should be attached together after printing, in the same way. However, I made a decision on patterns like the A-line dress, not to draw out the entire pattern for you to print, as it would run to many pages. Some of these might be more or less blank, or just have one line on them - a waste of printing ink!. So on the A-line dress, I've provided you with (most of) the bodice on just 4 printed sheets, and given measurements so you can extend the side seams to the appropriate length. 

You can either lay the pattern, once you've cut round or traced the size you want, on another large sheet of paper (I use broadsheet newspapers or spare wrapping paper saved for pattern making), and complete the pattern. Or you can place your pattern piece on the fabric and draw the extension lines directly on to the fabric. I usually prefer to make a complete pattern so I can easily re-use it.

3) Some, especially doll patterns, or very small baby clothing like hats or boleros, fit on one sheet. Many of these are drawn on 1" or 1/2" graph paper so that you can check they have printed the right size. Once printed (and the size checked) you can just cut out the pattern piece.

4) My dining harness pattern, as an example, is quite large. It is also drawn on graph paper, but it has several sheets. There is a layout plan provided (on P3) and each sheet has alphabetical letters to show which pages join to each other. 

However, all the borders (the part of the page which doesn't have graph squares) should be trimmed off, and the pattern then joins edge to edge. The best plan is to put them together with sticky tape. Alternatively, you can just trim one on the joining border and use stick glue or tape to overlap the pages so the pattern edges meet. On one page, note that the pattern piece does not reach the border, so the piece needs to be further trimmed to the line with the letters, so that the letters meet the letters on the piece to which it attaches.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Tutorial for lined or faced bodices - and how to include tabs or strings

I make a lot of tops and dresses for my grand-daughters that call for a lining or a facing. This may be a facing round the armholes and the neckline........

... or one that just covers the neckline .........

.... or it may be a fully-lined bodice, seen here from the outside .....

.... and the inside.

This is often a good way to fashion a front or back opening with tabs or strings as closures. But it may not be self-evident how to incorporate these features neatly. If you haven't done this before, here's how.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Play All Day Dress - free PDF Pattern Review from Its Always Autumn

Fleur hates fussy dresses. It's not so long since she refused to wear a dress at all, even for church. But  she started school a year ago, and the uniform is a dress or skirt - all the girls wear them, and she has no choice. And strangely, she will now on occasion accept wearing a dress, But no frills. Not pink. Nothing 'itchy'. So far, she accepted this tartan dress for Christmas, and this black and white dress in the spring. But that only gives her a limited number of dresses, and she's attending a four day Hindu wedding. So she needed a couple more. Here's the first. She chose the fabric herself. And the simple as can be design was one she could accept.

Monday, 30 September 2019

More stuff made with fat quarters

A couple of years ago, I set myself the challenge of seeing what I could get in the baby clothing line with each garment coming from a single fat quarter. Now the children are older, I don't think that's possible any more, apart from maybe some more mittens and hats. But occasionally our fabric store has a special deal on fat quarters and I can pick some up inexpensively, so I buy more than one. (Fat quarters normally cost more per metre than regular fabric.)

Here are just a few of the things I've made using 1, 2, 3, or 4 fat quarters in the past two years!

Saturday, 21 September 2019

A Little Pinafore Dress

This summer, Rose, 4, said she would like a pinafore dress to wear with T shirts. I had made one in a tartan pleated style for her cousin eighteen months earlier, using an adaptation of the Ikatbag shortalls pattern, but that pattern was too small for Rose now. I needed to make it in a 5-6. So Rose's grey and floral pinafore dress below was from my own pattern. (If you need a size 2-3, then by all means use the Ikatbag pattern.) You'll find my free tutorial and pattern at the bottom of this page.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Girl Patterns - Baby Girls - Page 1, 3 months to crawling

This two-page post reviews some of my favourite free PDF patterns for baby girls, from about 3 months old to toddler age. If you specifically want clothes for baby boys, see this post. I'll be doing posts for older girls later.

I've been making baby and children's clothes for the past 5 and a half years, when I first became a grandmother. I hadn't made many since my own children were babies, and the difference between then and now is that there are many people now who provide free PDF patterns on the internet. (Though I still had a handful of paper patterns from 30 years ago.) So I've devoted my blog to searching out and reviewing free PDF patterns for babies and children.

I have a separate series of posts for newborn patterns, for boys and girls. Regular readers of my blog will know that I generally try to dissuade people from making the smallest 0-3 month sizes - they may never fit, or may be outgrown faster than you can change a nappy. . But I know many people want to make them anyway. If that's you, off you go to my other post, and come back here when you want to make baby girl clothes in larger sizes.

Note that at the time of writing, all these patterns were free. Pattern designers are often generous enough to offer some taster patterns, which is a great way to decide if you like the patterns from these designers before you move on to paid-for patterns. Please ensure that you acknowledge them, as I always do, if you want to use the patterns or write about them. Not all of them want their patterns used commercially (for example if you are selling items you make for a profit.)

Friday, 16 August 2019

How happy I am when the clothes get worn!

How I love it when the clothes I make for my grand-children are worn from choice! Of course, when they are young, they don't get much choice over what they will wear, but as they get older, they are particular. For instance, one of my grand-daughters from 2 to 5 refused to wear a dress,  whereas one of her cousins refused at the same age to wear anything BUT a dress.

So if they don't like something I've made - they won't wear it! And I'm delighted when I see them choosing Grandma's clothes. Here are Fleur, then 4, and Rose, 3. They are visiting their other grandpa thousands of miles from home. Fleur is in her newest Grandma-made shorts, and Rose has stolen Fleur's from last year, because she's always loved them and now they fit her. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Monkey Bar Skirt/Shorts pattern review

I'd been meaning to try the Hey June Monkey Bar Skirt for some time, and I finally got round to it this summer. It's everything I hoped it would be.  I'm now two down, and others planned. Here are the first two.

The idea of this skirt / shorts is that little girls can (as little girls do) hang upside down on a monkey bar, without revealing their underwear. I made some minor modifications to suit us, but other than that I followed the Hey June tutorial. To find her free pattern and find out what I did with it, read on!

Monday, 22 July 2019

Making curved or flared frills, skirts, shorts and sleeves using the Slash and Spread method

When I first started on this post, I'd intended just to cover adding a curved frill to the bottom of an A-line dress. But I've realised that the method, called slash and spread, is the same for any time you want to make a flared or curved pattern, so I'm killing a few birds with one stone. However, I will cover a curved frill, because that may be how you arrived at this post!

I will also cover:
  • making a twirly skirt pattern
  • using the same approach for flared shorts or culottes
  • a hack for flutter sleeves
  • and a cowl neck.

    How to make a cowl top - the easy way

    For the birthday of one of my daughters, I had ear-marked some stretch silk jersey, and found the cowl hack I'd used earlier.

    I adapted a simple tunic or blouse pattern to make into a cowl top, it's easy to do, and I think looks effective. She's happy with the top and wore it to work the very same day. I did make her a belt to wear with it, but she liked it as it was without.To find out how easy it is to adapt a pattern into a cowl neck pattern, read on.

    Some fabric I didn't like - and how to avoid it!

    Do you ever get a project that's bad from start to finish? This was one of them. So my only purpose in blogging about it is to help you avoid the same mistake. The mistake was buying this fabric in the first place! I had bought quantities of some fabric I thought was very pretty on the internet - in two colourways. And as soon as I started using it, I hated it! But I'd committed to make two of my grand-daughters dresses out of the wretched stuff, so I persevered. And finally, the end result was OK - for a while. Pretty, aren't they?

    So if you have also given in to - I don't know what to call it - the urge to buy something without thinking it through - you may have sympathy with me. If you have also fallen into a desire to buy this type of fabric - then you can find out below what I've learnt.

    Yes, this is the fabric. It looks very pretty. It's stretchy, and it has little frills of fabric all over it. I bought this kingfisher coloured version, and one in deep pink - you could perhaps call it magenta, or raspberry, similar to the pink flowers in this kingfisher version. So what's not to like?   If you want to find out, read on!

    Tuesday, 2 July 2019

    Free Tank Top Patterns for Kids

    I'm always very grateful when pattern designers release a few patterns free. If nothing else, it enables you to decide which designers to follow. I don't want to start by shelling out for a pattern that doesn't work! Some people are not designers at all, in the sense that they don't sell their patterns; they are, like me, doting Grandmas or Mums (or Moms, in the US), who like making children's clothes, and to share what they can.

    I've made a few tank tops in my time - perhaps not as many as other people, because some of my grand-daughters (or their mothers) like to keep their shoulders covered. But in the course of doing this, I've found a few patterns that have worked for me.

     Here's my most recent effort - the straps are not  really as lop-sided as they look!

    To find my favourite free PDF tank top patterns, read on.

    Monday, 1 July 2019

    Making a little tank top from a bigger one!

    I have had in my wardrobe for a couple of years a D&G tank top that I really loved - but I've gone off wearing tank tops myself. So I thought I'd make it even smaller and make a nice tank top for one of my grand-daughters. 

    It's not difficult to make small clothes from larger ones. In fact, it's very easy from a large man's T shirt. Making them from a garment that is already not very large is more or a challenge, but it can be done, and you can find out how below.

    Friday, 7 June 2019

    The Versatile A-line dress

    There are so many things you can do with a basic A-line dress. I'll be showing you how to modify a basic A-line pattern to make different styles of dress in my next few posts. All of these dresses are variations which can easily be made. 

    To find out how, read on.