McCall 6501 Girls Dress A+E

Last but not least in the why-the-hell-am-I-Sewing for Kids Trilogy is the pile on the left.

The Pattern

My niece picked the black mesh fabric and had wanted a jacket out of it. But I was worried that a see-through jacket might be a bit too sexy / grown-up so I tried to J-Crewfy it. I thought the fabric would work well with a drapy design like this – the flounce especially. As added insurance against parental objection I also added the sleeves. The Franken-drawing looked alright to me. But of the 3 makes, I’m most meh about the result of this one…

Catalogue Shots


Is it just me or does this dress look dowdy? I’m wondering now if I shouldn’t have just made another gathered tier skirt with black lining.

Fabric & Notions Used

I was needlessly apprehensive about sewing the mesh knit and unduly confident about sewing the Lycra underlining. The mesh in fact sewed easily on the overlocker. The Lycra lettuced like crazy on both the overlocker (with differential feed turned right up) and sewing machine…until I spray starch the hell out of it. I even resorted to homemade starch when I ran out of the commercial one. Once it’s stiff like paper it behaved itself.

Size Used

Like with the Burda jacket I made a 12 – supposedly a size larger than my niece’s current measurements. But unlike the Burda jacket this one is L-A-R-G-E. Even I could fit into it. Not sure if it’s the typical over-generous ease problem that many have reported on the Big 4 patterns, or if the fault is with me for choosing stretchy fabrics.

I would have said “that’s OK as she can grow into it”. But of the 3 garments I think this is the most kiddy design. The other two could easily be teenage or even grown up fashion. This one looks too sickly sweet to be worn by anyone other than little girls & tweenies.

Changes Made

Frankenpatterned view A sleeves onto view E dress. And underlined the whole thing.

Verdict on the Instruction

I read the instruction but did my own thing because of the changes I made. Otherwise the instruction is pretty straight-forward (and easier to follow than Burda in my opinion).

Like with the cut-lace tier skirt, I treated the underlining as a separate layer for the main bodice. Only in the armscyes, sleeve hems, and back neck opening did I treat the layers as one.


As much as possible I kept the seams and hem stitching as light-weight as possible. So the mesh shell had narrow overlocked seam and roll hems – first time I did this and it came out without a hitch thanks to the easy-to-handle mesh fabric. The underlining had slightly wider seams with a machine-stitched single-fold narrow hem.


I was debating whether to finish the sleeve hems the same way, but decided to make it look more like the other upper edges – neck hem, back opening. This is to avoid distracting from the design line of the fluid flounce which flows into the fluid bottom hem. (There’s a bit of design thoughts going into this after all, even if the result isn’t quite as fashionable as I had hoped! }:-)

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

It is a sweet looking dress. And if you get the sizing right and picked the right fabric I think it would look good on young girls & younger Tweenies.

Somehow I don’t think I’ll be sewing this again though.  Unless this Tweeny Trilogy turn out to be unexpected mega-blockbusters I’m done sewing for kiddies. Back to regularly scheduled adult sewing next.

Kiddy Tiered Skirt Yeehaw…Gathering Hell

Excuse #4: Verdict on the Instruction, continued

OMG, how could I have forgotten about this other very important key make-my-life-harder feature…

You may gather (haha) from my previous projects that I’m not much of a gatherer. But this project has miles of gathering to do.

tiered-skirt_1-3I do own one of those weird contraption called a ruffler foot. But given the type of garments I tend to sew I’ve never used it on a project before.

I thought I’d try it out. Unfortunately, it eats fabric for breakfast, lunch & dinner. I’m not sure if I got a defective unit or not – it was a cheap eBay model – but even at the least-gathering setting, 18″ of test fabric was promptly reduced to 5″ at best. What with the calculation hell I was already in with this project, I had to abandon this route. It does make some lovely gathers though…(see bottom sample in the photo below).


The other route I’ve read about is using overlocker’s differential feed to gather & sew at the same time. Way too advanced for me – the second part that is. I tried the first part on a sample. The result wasn’t spectacular (see top sample in the photo above). Maybe 2-thread overlock isn’t the right stitch to do overlocker gathering – the instruction did specify 4-thread overlock stitch. But I was worried about having too much thread built up as I was going to gather, attach, then overlock again.

In the end it was back to good old fashion route of pulled basting stitch. Which of course took ages. Urgh.

So here’s a question for all you Master Gatherers: What’s your secrets for expert gathering? Is this one for Patience or am I missing out on some Fast Track Insider Tips?

BTW, a couple more styling ideas for this skirt if I had one in my size… Biker Chic with a leather jacket … Or Senorita style like this clipping…


Lucky for my niece this skirt doesn’t fit me. Otherwise she might not be getting this in the post!

Kiddy Tiered Skirt Yeehaw

Next off the kiddy clothing production line is the pile in the middle.

For a simple tiered skirt this one took me embarrassingly long to complete.

Excuse #1: The Pattern

What pattern? Precisely.

Originally I was going to use the Burda 9547 view E skirt that I had already bought. But then I decided I’d prefer the tiers to be free-floating like the out of print McCall 5920 pattern.

So I ended up improvising as I go along. And being an indecisive type, this was not a pretty sight with many a redo and tweaks along the way…despite this being essentially 3 rectangular strips of fabrics!

Catalogue Shots


Fabric & Notions Used

Excuse #2: Size Used

Obviously no standard sizing was involved in the making of this project.

My main criteria was the waistband / top piece has to be big enough for my niece’s hip (+ a bit for growth spurt) and once done small enough for her current waist but elastic enough for the aforesaid growth spurt (or one too many scoop of ice cream). The lower tiers are basically multiples of the fabric width.

Length is where a lot of dithering comes in. Was knee-length too uncool? But too short a skirt will definitely get a veto from the parents.  The skirt ended up a 17-1/2″, which I think is maybe 1-2″ above the knee. Fingers crossed.

Excuse #3: Changes Made

Now with no commercial pattern nothing counts as change right. But if I were to start with McCall 5920 A I would still have had to…

  • Convert the fitted top band with zipper to elasticated waistband.
  • Account for the sort-of-underlining (which was no walk in the park because of the free-floating tiers, especially as I didn’t want the top of the bottom tier to be so wide that any gust of wind would make her indecent) .

Excuse #4: Verdict on the Instruction

Yeah, the instruction – that would be mine – was pretty poor. Good thing I’m no indie pattern designer then! ;o) Too many back & forth between sewing machine & overlocker, brown threads & orange threads, brown on top & orange on bottom, and vice versa!

But let’s get to the key make-my-life-harder features of this skirt:tiered-skirt-1-construction

All 3 tiers are sort of underlined. “Sort of” because they’re not really basted to the shell & treated as one. I wanted the underlining to be free-floating as well, especially for the bottom tier. So underling & shell side seams were sewn separately. They were only treated as one when joining the tiers. Let me just say this (+ the aforementioned modesty preserver) complicate things t-r-e-m-e-n-d-o-u-s-l-y. Highly not recommended.

Because the cut lace is a bit scratchy, I decided to cut the elastic casing separately in lining fabric to make it more comfortable to wear. But I was a bit worried the thin lining might wear out too quickly. So I reinforced the casing lining with light-weight interfacing.

The fabric doesn’t come with scallop salvage. But I wanted scallops. The lacy pattern screams out for scallops. So scallops I will have. And of course the underlining being free-floating it must have its own scallops too. And of course the fancy scallop stitch that came with the sewing machine was not good enough: It was too narrow even if the length was adjustable to match the cut lace’s pattern repeat.

So a template was made. And fabric stiffened and double stiffened. And countless hours lost to rows and rows of manual satin-stitching. The result immediately after stitching doesn’t look half-bad. But once the stabilizers were washed out, the scallops were a bit underwhelming to be honest.


I suppose it gives the skirt a bit of Vivienne Westwoodish 16th century cut lash look, all rough & delicate at the same time. (She says delusionally.) Of course any fashion reference would sadly be lost on a Tweeny Bopper. Poop.

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

Would I! Not for a growing kid I won’t! Maybe for myself, if I’m high on paint fume or something.

It is awfully labor intensive. But I already have a few styling ideas for one my size! Country-western… Aforementioned VW cut & slashy… Maybe even classy pearls, mohair, & pumps. (No wonder kids thinks home sewn fashion are so uncool – we sew for our own grownup taste after all! 😉


Burda Kids 9547 Jacket B

And finally, we have a finished project to show!

If you’ve been following any British sewing blogs – or any Western European ones – you’d probably know by now we’re “enjoying” an unusual summer heat wave. Scratch that, make it an unusual Summer. Period.

So it’s been either too hot to sew or too nice to sew. I did not help matters further by complicating all three of my Sewing For Tweenie projects. Hence they’ve been like this for the longest time:

But I’m happy to report that thanks to a minor down turn on the work front I’ve finally managed to complete one. First off the assembly line is the jacket pile on the left.

The Pattern

It was notoriously difficult to get my niece to pick a children’s pattern. She kept reaching for the grown up Project Runway patterns! Eventually she did pick this jacket pattern herself. So let’s hope she likes the result!

Catalogue Shots

No life modelling this time. Not even a dress form modelling as this is so not my size! 🙂

B9547_2-finished B9547_2-finished-detail

Fabric & Notions Used

Size Used

My niece’s Spring measurements are closer to a size 11 (146). But I was advised to make a size larger in case she gets a sudden growth spurt. So size 12 (152) it is. Not a clue how this will fit her. Fingers crossed it won’t be any worse than RTW.

Changes Made

As I don’t have her here for fittings, I made a straight 12/152. But I did add a full lining and made the facing slightly wider.

Verdict on the Instruction

I did glance through the instructions and followed a step here or there. But while these packaged Burda patterns have better instruction than the Burda magazines, they’re still not as detailed as the Vogue/McCall patterns that I’m more used to.

The pattern marking was a bit confusing too. The center front cut line was marked as Center Front. I couldn’t figure out if they mean the corresponding (unmarked) seam line 5/8″ in is the CF or if the printed cut line is the CF. I hope it’s the former. Otherwise the finished front would be a bit too small, especially as this one have butted CF rather than overlapped like a typical jacket.

The pattern for the button loops was also a bit ambiguous. Firstly, I can’t find any button size instruction. So without button size how do you know how long a loop strip you need and how big a loop to make? The marking on CF is for the smallest size only. So you’ll just have to experiment yourself. F.i.d.d.l.y.!.!.!.!.!

Lousy instruction aside, I slowed myself down further by deciding to try a few new-to-me jacket sewing techniques.

First off, interfacing.

I started out interfacing just the facings & the hems. But I had a mini crisis over this. Mainly because I was too mean with interfacing in the past. So I have a whole pile of fusibles that are over 20 years old. The first one I tried did not stick well. No problem, I’ll stick fusible web where it’s not sticking. But that made hems too stiff and I had to pull these off, leaving adhesive gunk behind. Cry. Tantrum. And vows to ditch all these geriatric fusibles.

After a few cups of decafs the natural meanness crept back. I decided to test rest of the fusibles before deciding who goes and who stays – in case it was the polyester faux suede’s fault. Turns out most of the rest are not too bad. Especially on fabrics that can take the heat & moisture – like everyone’s favorite – 100% cotton. So most of them stay. But I’ve learned to be less stingy with the interfacing.

In fact I then decide to interface the whole jacket – front, back, sides, sleeves, the whole shebang – because the faux suede felt a bit too limp for a jacket.

Next up the lining.

I decided to try a few of Kathleen Fasanella aka Fashion Incubator‘s recommendations.

  • For the lining patterns, I followed the instruction on p154-157 of her book “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing” and added 1/2″ vertical ease between the bottom of the armhole and the hems. On the body this was eased into the front facing instead of being left as a fold at the bottom of the lining (like I’ve done previously following everyone else’s example).
  • I also tried her jacket bagging online tutorials 1 & 2 as well as her tutorials for a neat machine finish where the bottom of the front facing joins the lining & hem. Even with photos these were a bit difficult to follow. I had to proceed slowly. But in the end they did work! The bit for joining the sleeve with the sleeve lining was especially magical. I kept wondering if I was going to end up with an Escher straitjacket. Thankfully when turned right side out it was a perfectly formed sleeve with machine stitched sleeve hem/lining seam!

Below are a few pictures of what it looks like just before I turned it right side out…

B9547_1-1 B9547_1-2 B9547_1-3 B9547_1-4 B9547_1-5

And after it was turned right side out…

B9547_1-6 B9547_1-9

A couple of things I did differently than the standard bagging instruction:

  1. I found it easier to finish the facing-lining/hem joint first before sewing the CF shell-facing seam.
  2. I decided to leave the gap for turning the jacket right side out at the back hem rather than in one of the sleeve seams. I find lining fabric fray too easily – especially as I had reduced most seam allowances to 3/8″ like Kathleen instructed. So I didn’t want to deal with a fiddly/difficult to reach area like a sleeve seam. Back hem is easier to work with. I just slip stitch the small stretch of unfinished hem by hand.

Speaking of fraying lining, how do you finish lining seam allowances?

I Googled the earth & checked every sewing book I have and no one has a single recommendation on this. I ended up stitching two parallel lines, pinking the edge, then pressing to one side. But I’m wondering if there’s a better way.

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

It’s a cute jacket I think. But as I can’t check the fit, and I’ve been warned that Tweenies are very hard audience to please, I probably won’t sew it again.

And I think it’ll be wiser for me to wait for my niece’s verdict before I go recommending it to anyone else!

Sewing for a Tweeny niece

Hmm, I seem to be suffering a post-holiday lull in my sewing. Or more precisely in my blogging.

I did finish 3 knit tops I had already cut out before going on holiday. But they were all basically wearable muslins – testing out my Knit Top Block in different sleeve variations with fabrics from my stash that I feel iffy about &  willing to sacrifice to experiments. So I’m not feeling inspired to take photos and report on them.

Instead, I’m planning on my next projects…These will have to be stuff for my 11-year-old niece before she outgrows the measurements I took!

It’s a bit crazy really – volunteering to make her clothing. She’s not yet cloth obsessed. Their household is comfortable enough that they can buy some nice clothing. There seems to be plenty of fun RTW already. She lives far far away. All of which means that what I make may not be that exciting for her or even fit well. But the fabrics & patterns have been bought. So I’m determined to get my money’s worth!

Here’s the plan:


Shortened McCall 6501 view E dress with sleeves from view A
in this black floral net with magenta lycra knit underlining/lining.

jacket-fabric jacket-pattern

Burda 9547 view A jacket
in faux suede with gold dots and golden orange lining.

skirt-pattern skirt-top-fabric

Burda 9547 view E skirt
in faux suede cut lace and golden orange lining / underlining.

I can’t decide whether to attach the bottom tier to the hem of the top tier or have each tier’s hem free floating like this:


What would you go for?

I also want to make a tunic top in the same fabric to go with the skirt that can be worn tucked in or not. But I haven’t found a pattern yet. Any suggestions?

And those of your with Tweeny daughters, do these plans scream Unhip Aunty?

I need Tweeny opnions!