Sew Sweet

A girl, sitting at a table outside, folding a napkin into her top.

A girl, sitting at a table outside, folding a napkin into her top.

As someone who suffers from a disease which dictates aversion to movement, sound and people, you would think that being around children would be intolerable. And generally, you’d be right. But my friend Beth’s munchkins are the exception. I adore them. I love being around them, even when they are running through the house, squealing with excitement. I think their reading and writing skills makes them mini-geniuses. My walls are covered with their artwork, and I love nothing more than having them snuggle up on my lap, even when they are emitting endless streams of wet farts.


Like so many childfree adults before me, I have adopted a simple tactic to win them over: give ’em shit their parents couldn’t possibly afford. I couldn’t afford it, either, but luckily I have a sewing machine and a stash of vintage fabric scraps that even a magpie would consider to be a bit much. One of the best parts about sewing for kidlets is that they are so small that you can make them clothes out of basically anything. The denim in these outfits came from men’s shirts, and the polka dot pink is the bottom part of a child’s dress (both bought from op shops). It’s a welcome relief after trying to stretch meterage to fit my tall self.

A girl stands in a garden, wearing a handmade dress.
Square neck dress, made from a girls dress and men’s shirt.

Most of the patterns I used came from Sew Sweet: Handmade Clothes for Girls, an English reprint of a Japanese pattern book. The book has 22 patterns for girls, and 2 matching patterns for mums, if you’re into that kind of thing. Many of the patterns are adaptations of the one basic pattern, but they are original and versatile enough to work. The patterns require tracing from a central pattern sheet, and do not include seam allowances.

If you are even considering sewing for children, Sew Sweet: Handmade Clothes for Girls is a must-read. Their patterns are exceptionally well-drafted, stylish and fit perfectly. None of this “let’s chuck in 10cm more ease and hope for the best” nonsense from the Big 4. (You can see this effect in the applique t-shirts, which are an old Kwik-Sew pattern, #1695.) The author makes a point of stating she doesn’t believe in making clothes to grow into, as children can and should be comfortable and stylish in their clothing.

Two girls stand in a garden, wearing handmade dresses.
Kwik Sew 1695 tops from a failed dress. A-line skirts, from gifted fabric.

And best of all, they are so easy and enjoyable to sew. My experience sewing kid’s clothes from Simplicity patterns was a nightmare compared to So Sweet. The instructions are clear and are accompanied with diagrams that are so easy to understand, you don’t even need the written instructions. Seam allowances are suggested as 1cm, though as you are adding them yourself, you can allow as much or little as you like.

My copy came from the city library, a resource I would highly recommend checking out if you are interested in sewing books. If they don’t have it in stock, they will most likely be able to get it on interlibrary loan for a small fee.

Two girls stand in a garden, wearing homemade skirts and tops.
Double layered skirts, made from op shop fabric, sheets and a mens shirt. On left, Neat Blouse made from a sheet. Eliza had a shirt too but stained it before the photos were taken.

Most of these clothes formed a birthday present earlier this year. But I will, and have, continued to make them clothing. Making kid’s clothing is addictive, as is the way their faces light up when Siobhan has given them yet another dress.

Their mother, a dear childhood friend, was kind enough to take photos of girls in their outfits using her fancy-pants camera. Enough of my waffling – I’ll let these beautiful photos do the talking.

Two girls sit outside at a picnic table.
The tablecloth is an overlocked rectangle of pre-embroidered gingham. The napkins, overlocked squares of scrap fabric.
A girl stands in a garden, wearing a handmade dress.
Square neck dress from scrap poplin and a men’s shirt, ricrac trim

A girl sits at a picnic table outside.

Two girls stand in a garden, wearing handmade dresses.
Square neck dresses.

Two girls forage through greenery in a garden.

Two girls are in a backyard, racing each other.

Two girls stand in a garden, hugging.

Author: Siobhan S

20 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic feminist and disability advocate.

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