A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Summer sewing for the girls

One of my 2019 sewing goals was to sew more for my children.  I made some strides in doing that in May.  We had a trip planned to Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast, where it's 90 degrees and 80+% humidity year-round. The girls' hot-weather wardrobes were looking a little bedraggled, so we pulled a few fabrics from the stash and I got to work.

I made each girl a romper using this free pattern from Purl Soho. I made one for N first.  I cut the size 6/7 width and the size 10 length, with the prescribed strap and elastic length. The sizing ended up pretty spot-on.  I used 28 inches of a plaid shirting that I ordered from Fabric Mart in April.  Looking at the photos, I think she could have used a touch more length in the bodice; this probably won't fit next summer.

Purl Soho Summer Romper in pink plaid shirting.

It was a really quick and easy sew. I wasn't sure about the tied straps because I thought that meant that she would have to undo and re-tie the straps whenever she used the bathroom.  I thought a lot after cutting the pieces about how to make the straps one piece, but in the end I just made the pattern as directed, and it turns out she can just slip the straps down and pull them back up, keeping them tied.

Purl Soho summer romper in pink plaid shirting with a view of the Caribbean.

After N's was done, I had Z try it on.  Based on that fitting, I added 1/2" to the side seams of my already-drafted pattern, and added 1" to the length of the bodice and 1" to the rise of the bottom portion of the romper.  In order to avoid stripe matching across the horizontal seam, I sewed the elastic casing on the outside of the romper instead of the inside.  I trimmed the hems with lace from the stash.  I used up about 39" of a cotton chambray that has been in the stash for four years.

Purl Soho Romper in striped chambray with lace trim.
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The casing is supposed to be sewn entirely on the bodice part of the romper. I accidentally sewed the bottom of the casing to the shorts part, reducing the rise and making the top blousier.  Z does need that additional rise length, (as you can see in the below pic) so I need to go back and redo it.  Though when I make another one, I may add a little more length to the top to keep the blousy-ness.

Back view of Purl Soho Summer Romper in striped chambray with lace trim.

Thinking about summer sewing, I threw a couple cuts of voile in my daughters' favorite colors into my most recent FabricMart order.  When they arrived, I pulled out my Oliver+S Pinwheel Dress pattern, which is the only O+S pattern that I own but had not yet sewn.  I cut out the View A dress, but a quick fit on N after I had sewn just the upper dress pieces together proved that it was going to be a bit short, even though I had lengthened it.  Plus the voile was going to have to be lined as a dress, and I didn't want to mess with that.

Child's yellow voile camisole made from the Oliver+S Pinwheel Tunic + Slip Dress sewing pattern.

I suggested turning it into a top, to which she agreed.  This is a size 6 bodice traced to the length of a 12, with the size 12 shoulder straps.  I skipped the facings and finished the neckline with self bias, which worked nicely.  I also finished the hem with self bias.  I am very pleased with the way this turned out. It's quite easy to use this pattern as a cami pattern as well as a dress.

O+S Pinwheel Dress sewing pattern as a camisole in bright yellow tropical-print voile.

After I made N's top, I had Z try it one for fit.  We ended up using the size 7 bodice for her, extended to the length of the 12, with the 12 shoulder straps.  I put in the facings as drafted this time, and sewed them to the outer top at the side seams. I think these camis turned out so cute, and they were very cool in Cartagena's heat!

O+S pinwheel dress pattern as a camisole in teal voile, modeled on the beach at Cartagena, Colombia.

I took these pics on the white sand beach of Playa Blanca, on Isla Baru, about a 45-minute drive from Cartagena.  Our trip was taken during Cartagena's rainy season, so we got poured on, but it cleared up after an hour and we still salvaged a nice beach day out of it. 

Child's teal voile camisole made from the Oliver+S Pinwheel Tunic + Slip Dress sewing pattern.

Each girl also got a dress.  These are my least favorite makes from this particular sewing bonanza.  I downloaded this free sheath dress pattern from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom to use as a base for the pattern and then improvised from there, which I think is why I don't like the dresses as much as the other pieces.  I find pattern hacking to be stressful and I don't feel like I'm very good at it!

Anyway,  I made Z's dress out of a cotton seersucker I bought back in 2016.  This is a size 7, lengthened by 6 inches so that I could put in a 1.5" growth pleat.  I also lowered the neckline and added a few ruffles on the bodice.  


After I'd done that I still thought it needed something, so I sewed some 1/4" elastic into the bottom side seams to ruche the sides a bit.  It's not my favorite thing I've sewn but I think it will get good use this summer.

I had high hopes of getting great photos of all my makes on location ... But we spent most of the trip alternately nursing two sick kids (ain't that always the way), and it rained a lot, so I didn't take many photos at all.

Using the same pattern, I made this dress for N.  I had her try on Z's dress after I finished it to check sizing, and decided to remove about 1.5" from the front neckline by placing that part of the pattern off the fold.  I swung the rest of the pattern back onto the fold, resulting in a slightly swingier dress.   The fabric is a J. Crew cotton shirting unearthed from deep stash.

I cut the back in one piece instead of two, turned the front and back necklines into V shapes and narrowed the straps.  I also added a strappy lace detail in the back V using crochet trim from the stash, and made a faux placket in the front with the same trim.  This dress is lengthened 6" from the pattern size 7.  I had to line the dress due to fabric sheerness, but I turned it into a design feature by making the outer layer shorter than the underlay.  I finished both layers with narrow hems.

So that's good progress made on their summer wardrobes.  I'm hoping to sew each girl another romper as well as a few tops and shorts before we go home for the summer in about a month.

As always, thanks for reading and see you next time!


  1. Everything you made your girls turned out so cute! I have been meaning to try the Purl Soho romper for my daughter but I’ve been concerned about the tie straps, too. I’m glad to know they can just be pulled off the shoulder and don’t have to be I tied to get it off!

  2. I do like your rompers, thank you for pointing out that pattern. I prefer the extra length and blousi-ness too.
    The Pinwheel makes an excellent camisole, well done! (I found the pattern too short and too wide for my skinny malinky girls)
    I hope you enjoyed your holdiday.
    xx N

    1. Yes! My girls wear a shop 8, but they need the length of the 12 in this pattern. Sizing down for N did the trick for the width.

  3. when I made the purl soho romper, I put snaps on the inseam to be easily able to get in and out. worked pretty well for my 2 year old! (but interface!)

  4. I never had girl children to sew for, so I enjoy seeing the cute and cool garments you made for your daughters. Clever idea to add a second shorter layer to the sheath dress instead of lining. It is such a pretty detail. The different sizes you used for length and width did remind me of sewing for my two tall slender sons. I always added lots of length and hope they don't grow too fast.

  5. These are all so pretty. Love what you did with the longer lining on the dress - it looks lovely.

  6. I love the PS romper. I always exchange the ties for fixed elastic straps. Much easier and better looking as many time the ties get badly wrinkled after a wash. Thanks for showing us your makes and giving us great ideas!


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