Evolution of a custom gift

A dear friend of mine asked me to create a “WOW” gift to give to a family with a small daughter.  I was told the mother’s style is “classic and modern, but a little funky”.  I decided to err on the side of caution and provide a less-than-funky, but sure to please modern “classic.”

She chose the Felted Wool Cut-out Lace Jacket:

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and asked me to create something adorable to give along with it.  The little recipient of this outfit is just learning to walk.  Is almost a year old and wears a size 6-9m in typical ready-to-wear clothing.  I used a generous sizing method to fit 6-12 months (I hope it works!!) and thought I’d make her a dress.  The more I considered what to make, however, the more I realized that a girl learning to walk might need pants.  Despite the CA location of this little girl,I knew that winter is cooler everywhere, and I wanted something to take her through the seasons, as long as she fit in the clothes.

So, I  decided on a tunic – nearly long enough to be a dress, but not so long as to interfere with the process of learning to walk.  I started with a baby kimono I admired from a book I bought back in August up in Marquette, MI. I made a “muslin” to test the pattern, since I rarely keep a pattern I didn’t make as it is(….actually, I rarely keep a pattern as is even if I DO make it, because there is always room for improvement!)

Here I used a Butter Yellow Tencel with a sweet poplin print on the outside:

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I guess technically, it’s reversible.  Ella loved it, too bad it won’t fit!

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The pattern calls for a ribbon closure, but I imagine ribbon might not be the most comfortable on the inside of a shirt, unless there is a t-shirt under it.  If I sell this, I’ll call it a “Jacket” so no one has an itchy baby 🙂

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I thought the cuffs were a bit clumsy to install, and the binding would have looked nicer installed as piping, but all the way around, or not at all and maybe a clean finish. 

For my purposes, the “shape” was a little lacking.  I wanted less “infant” and more “little girl.” I cut the pattern abut 2 inches under the arms, and attached a skirt from this dress after  I adjusted the width to fit, and the curve to match more nicely as a wrap.

I used some absolutely adorable fabric from Kokka’s Trefle line in a linen/cotton blend and lined the whole thing with a super soft cotton batiste.

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In my new and improved version, I closed with snaps (invisible from the outside) an trimmed with ribbon. 

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I also changed the construction to simply bind the sleeve openings to the inside:

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I had *just* received some gorgeous teal colored wool double-jersey which I had tried to felt, and it simply didn’t want to so I knew it would be *perfect* for kids’ clothing.  Washable, and stretchy!  It just happened to perfectly match the ribbed velvet ribbon I chose for the trim.

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I struggled with adding a knit item.  Not because I don’t like knits, but because to me, an overlocked seam doesn’t exhibit a “fine” finish.  For knits, it is perfectly appropriate, however, and I just decided to go with it.  I made a flare-legged legging with a matching cuff.  It should wind up to be capri length, and it will show of some super-cute shoes, I’m sure!

My friend is happy with her purchase (it arrived today at her home), and I cannot wait to hear how the end-recipient enjoys the package!

I love it, and I may just make one for Ella in her size!

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3 Comments

Filed under sewing

3 responses to “Evolution of a custom gift

  1. Great idea to enhance the shaping — I too find most kimono styles a bit too frumpy and formless on little girls — and fitted clothes always feel more comfortable to wear. Beautifully done all around!

  2. The kimono is definitely great for little ones, however I love your end result. Great work Karen.

  3. very elegant, yet modern. 🙂

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