Start 'Em Young!

L's dress

Janet, the proud mother of three-and-a-half-year-old L., has sent me this story. L. asked her mother if she could make a dress (has she been reading this blog?). NOT a skirt, L stressed. A dress. Janet loves sewing, so she was thrilled.

L. picked out the pattern, decided what material to use, what color rick-rack for trim (her mom says she's on a major rick-rack kick — a girl after my own heart!) and where it should be placed.

With a little help from her mom, L. laid out the pattern and cut it. She did the pinning and sewed all straight seams (although her mom helped a little, and did do the zipper, the rick-rack, and the bias tape).

Here's L. in her dress — isn't it (and she) adorable?

L's dress

I am, frankly, in awe. I didn't make my first dress until I was three times L.'s age, and the idea of my little boy (who is twice L.'s age) being even NEAR my sewing machine (what with its sharp swiftly moving parts!) gives me the writhing heebies, so I don't know who impressed me more; L. for her accomplishment or Janet for her forbearance and patience!

I can tell you one thing, though — by the time L.'s a teenager, she'll be making something like this:


L's dress

Won't it look great with rick-rack?

0 thoughts on “Start 'Em Young!

  1. Wow, i am super impressed. My little guy (6) has been hankering for his own sewing machine (kid friendly, obviously). He designs his own clothes and I sew them for him, lots of fun! Perhaps it’s time to take the plunge…

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  2. That’s wonderful! And adorable! And rick-rack definitely doesn’t deserve it’s for-kids-only reputation! All my kids (2 girls, 2 boys) sewed on the machine by the time they were 7, if nothing else just to say they did it. The oldest daughter started at 2, unfortunately, when she accidentally hit the button that lowered the needle to pivot and it slid alongside her nail right through the fleshy part of her fingertip and secured her to the machine for several panic-stricken moments. Now almost 21, while not passionate, she has gone on to sew several lovely items. It helps to have a speed control—when the kids want to sew, the first thing they do is move the speed from the bunny to the turtle and away they go!

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  3. Hooray, another empowered sewing machine user! She will grow into zippers and darts ; ) and know that she can do anything.I must say, it pays to start off with something you want to make. Placemats and vests are fine, but you learn much better when love and desire are involved.The sky’s the limit now, baby. And she’s cuter than cute.

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  4. FANTASTIC!!! it is such a great story, this little girl will always appreciate her mother’s courage and generosity in helping her make a little masterpiece of her own.

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  5. Oh My Gosh!What talent!! We are getting the first look at a future designing DIVA!! Thanks Erin, for sharing this with us. Conrgrats L!! You should be very proud.( Mommy, you should be too!)Hugs,Janet

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  6. What a great story! I love L’s design. It is great when kids want to sew–my youngest brother got a hankering to make a pillow case when he was about 6 (and I was 14), so I helped him with it and it was such a proud accomplishment for him. Gosh, now I’m misting over.

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  7. I started nagging my mom to teach me how to sew before I was in kindergarten. She said that I could use her sewing machine when I was tall enough for my feet to meet the speed control. Well, I have always been tall for my age, and she had to make good when I was 5.I did not, however, sew through my finger until I was 17.Amy

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  8. She cut it! At three and a half!!! I don’t think any of my four kids could cut along a straight line on a piece of paper at that age…let alone guide a sewing machine. Wowza!

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  9. What an inspiration to hear that there are still young people who want to learn how to sew. This story gives me hope that the art of dressmaking is still alive and thriving!

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  10. What a wonderful dress! I could use her eyes to thread my needles and bring me joy with her color selections. You must be so proud of her

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  11. What a touching story. I was, unfortunately, never taught to sew. My mother was always fond of saying, “I don’t sew and I don’t bake.” Well, I am baking a lot now and I usually get rave reviews for the goodies. Maybe one day, I’ll blossom into an adult sized L.!L. & Janet should both be proud of this dress. It’s really cute. L you look adorable in the picture!Holly

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  12. Thanks everybody for the kind words; they only add to my excitement. I really hope she becomes a designer so that mommy can have a new wardrobe!I am L’s mom. She did have a lot of help from me. With cutting, we used a rotary cutter. Held her hand the entire way, guiding her. We used a shoebox under the foot peddle. Over all it was SLOW going, and that’s alright. She did poke herself ONCE with a pin (that’ll learn ya.)The downside: I must correct tensions and stich length/style all the time now. She thinks the machine is hers.Next up is a lime green nightgown that she picked material for at a garage sale. Thanks everybody! Especially Erin for making on Mother’s WEEK (or year!)-Janet

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  13. Wonderful! I love the way she wanted to use the rickrack.I made a shorts outfit when I was 8, but I don’t remember having so many choices!My second son (who is now 21 and a firefighter) was interested in sewing from a young age. We worked together on some things, but eventually I put him in a kid’s quilting class so somebody else could teach him how to take care of a sewing machine. That was a good move.

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  14. lucitebox, your comment reminded me of my mother’s approach to tailoring. She used masking tape or a stapler to do her hemming. Sometimes she’d forget and we’d end up with wads of masking tape in the dryer. Maybe that’s why sewing still seems like a dark mystery to me.

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  15. Janet,I am simply in awe. My daughter (also an L.) is the same age as yours. I can’t begin to imagine the patience (not to mention courage) you must have. You’re an inspiration! I haven’t even had my machine out since my daughter learned to crawl. Sounds like I need to get over it:) Thanks to you and to Erin for this great posting.

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  16. That’s my little angel. It must be hereditary because Janet’s creations are always ond of a kind too. I can see L will have the same attention to detail. Maybe one day I can get one of you to re-teach me how to sew. I am one who learned in home-ec. Yes, I made a pretty nice pillow. Now I don’t venture much past fixing buttons. Sounds like a great project and I look forward to seeing more. XO – Aunt Erin P.S. great site

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  17. That was a great outfit for L to start with. It is so cute!I am helping my seven year old girl to sew an outfit this summer. She is doing pretty well, and plans on entering it in the state fair. I hope she wins something!I am excited that she wants to learn to sew, and I want her to have this skill, but, ooh, it’s hard to give up “my” time at the sewing machine! And now I want that Schiaparelli pattern!

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  18. Oh, rick-rack, I used to love you. That whole story/dressmaking-episode/photo submission/posting is ADORABLE. The child is no slouch, either.

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  19. The second dress will look amazing with rick-rack. Then again, I’m 18 and *still* love rick-rack. All I can say is I wish my mother had that type of patience with me when I was that young.

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  20. GO Miss L! Love that she followed the tradition of the photo taking in the back yard šŸ˜‰ Sad that she isn’t wearing a head kerchief from Auntie Jen but maybe next time.. lolPlease tell her that she’s got a Fan Club here at dressaday she really did a fantastic lil’ job!xox

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  21. CUTE! And way to go, Mom, that took a lot of patience. I remember my Mom helping me make my first apron, I still have it. I still remember it, too, I think I was 7.

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  22. That’s amazing for such a youngster. I have cousins twice her age that woulda) get hurtb) break somethingc) not pay attentiond) give up earlyAnyways…very cute dress. L should take VERY good care and keep it airtight sealed when she’s finished wearing it to keep it. Who knows what she’ll be capable of in 20 years?TOODLES

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  23. Gosh, I had a dress exactly like that many moons ago! Mine was black and white checked fabric with red rick rack–I even had matching ribbons for my hair. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

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  24. WOW! I started sewing at age 6 and made simple square purses and such…still have that tiny electric singer sewing machine…lol…congrats Mom and lil one!

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  25. I have an almost identical story, though i was 7. From that point on, every summer, my mom and i would make my first-day-of-school-outfit for the coming year. By high school, i was sewing all the costumes for the school plays. Today, at 23, as we speak, actually, a dress i designed for an olympic figure skater is being set up for display in the window of Marshall Field’s…on state street! Start ’em young!

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  26. Good for L AND her mom! L will be sewing the Schiap by the time she’s a teenager, and by the time she’s 30 she’ll BE Schiap :-). She’ll invent the next rick-rack. We love kids like this…

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  27. So happy to read and see this! I started as a kid too. Sewing opened up the world to me. May she have a lifetime of enjoyment with it all, and a minimum of pricked fingers.

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