Mini Mod #7: Mommy-Made Dress (yes made by me, feel free to complement!)

I’ve been wanting to make my daughter a dress since before she was born. I have a sewing machine thanks to my fabulous in-laws, some knowledge of sewing thanks to my dog, who encouraged me to learn, and an idea of what looks cute thanks to my fabulous daughter. My husband encourages me because it means less money spent on boutique clothing, and less time to spend it because I’m fumbling around on my dang machine.

Before I continue, let me welcome you to Mini Mod! My weekly link up where we showcase our kiddos and their fashion sense. Link up below to a blog post featuring your kiddo and what they’re wearing.

Dress: Made by yours truly, pattern from Designs by Elliette; Shoes from Cambria Laine

Ok, continuing on…

This is the first dress I made my daughter. I’m not counting this one because it sucked, and at a birth weight of 9lbs 9oz she couldn’t even squeeze her big self into it. Don’t even look at it. It wasn’t cute. In fact, I’m sorta embarrassed that I just took to time to look that up and link it. YIKES!

DO OVER! That’s what this was.

My motivation? Wanting a cute Halloween dress that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. With how many things she has (and my desire for her to wear something different every day at school) I knew she’d only wear this thing once or twice at best. She’d be too big next year and what if our next baby is born a different time of year or is a boy? Homemade seasonal dress= problem solved!

I’m also sick of people asking me if I made her outfits and having to say “no.” Can’t I for once say yes?!

I added “take sewing lessons” to my “to do before #2” list and my dear friend Jennie answered my call. I’m not sure if this is because she has six kids and wants me to hurry and catch up, or just because she’s nice and wants to teach a man to fish–or in my case, a mother to sew.

We had a few tweets that went something like this:

Jennie: “Come to my house and I’ll teach you to sew!”
Me: “Really? You can help me? Can you make anything? And by anything I mean baby dresses.”
Jennie:”Of course I can make anything, I rock”… Or something like that, I can’t remember. All I know is that she said she could help me and I needed to choose a pattern.

A pattern? Oh no… Those are the death of me!

When I think of patterns I think of searching fabric stores with my grandmother, looking at pictures of outfits I liked then watching her pin fabric to tissue paper over and over again. Things that seem way to complicated for someone like me!

I emailed her about 20 patterns, a variety, knot dresses, and variations of pillowcase dresses. My favorite, a back-tie dress was the link on the top. My friend wrote back saying we could do my favorite.

Really? That’s not too hard?!

The designer on Etsy said a beginner could do it but I’m lower than a beginner, I’m like a hopeless soul aspiring for the impossible.

I bought it anyway.

I downloaded the pattern and read all 23 pages of Latin pattern speak. I didn’t understand half of it.

Discouraged, I messaged my friend, and asked if she understood it. Sure she wouldn’t, I prepared myself for disappointment. But to my surprise she wrote back and said it was easy enough, and I could do it.

Lil’ J and I went to the fabric store and picked out fabric for two dresses. I intentionally picked a fall and Halloween style because it would put me on a deadline to finish NOW.

I wrote to the pattern creator and asked about how long she thought it would take and she estimated two hours. I’m not sure if she meant for me or her but my friend doubled that estimate for us.

Monday morning I packed up my sewing stuff, dropped Lil’ J off at school and headed up to Jennie’s. I needed to focus and no way Lil’ J would let me do that for four hours. She’d have more fun at school and I’d pick her up just after her nap.

Jennie was a fantastic teacher and I left learning a few very important things about sewing:

1. Cutting takes way longer than you’d expect. Measure twice, cut once.
2. Good scissors are some of the most important things in sewing.
3. I’ve got to get me one of those cool pin cushion bracelets.
4. And a bigger cutting board.
5. Ironing, though a pain, is pretty important.
6. You don’t need a rufflier, you can make your own ruffles by sewing two straight lines and pulling the fabric across. 

She translated sewing words for me like “baste” “on the fold” “selvage” and helped me find short cuts, and understand the pattern. But she let me do all the work myself.

Sure, there are some mistakes. But you wouldn’t notice unless you were looking. No, the quality isn’t as great as what I get from boutiques, but it’s cute and I made it. Yep. I made it. And seriously, if I can make this so can you.  Don’t you dare say you can’t. Just try it!

The pattern, and fabric for two dresses was about $22. I had enough left over fabric to make her a matching sash, and bow. I also added some decorative buttons for fun.

The best part is now? When someone asks me if I made my daughter’s dress, finally, I can smile big and proud and say “Yes!”

… And then hopefully they won’t then say: “I can tell.”

What do you think? Be honest!… Only if you like it.

Link up to Mini Mod below so I can check out your cuties! Mini Mod of the week is Jayden and Sheena from Sophistishe repping some adorable clothes for little boys. Check out her blog to see what he’s wearing, then link up your Friday Fashionista/o below.

via Sophistishe

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  1. I would love one too! I’m sure you’ll be getting that a lot hehe. Great job. I had a kiddie sewing machine back in the day. WIsh I stuck with it. Now you don’t have to buy as much clothes!

  2. You did a good job. All those little small pieces seem difficult to navigate. Was it? It looks great.

    I love sewing and have yet to carve out time to make V a dress. I’m inspired. Soon….

  3. That is AWESOME! My mom owns a boutique (Mother Goose Collections) and makes awesome dresses and everything in between, and I must say…I would buy this dress! That is a big compliment! Seriously, great job. The dress is too cute!!

  4. Beautiful dress! Of course J is the perfect model! Thanks for sharing! Motivates me to try a sewing project. My oldest daughter sews and has had lessons. My A type personality won’t try for fear of lacking perfection. Lol! One day, perhaps. Keep it up mommy!

  5. Absolutely adorable! I love it! But I have to disagree not everyone can make it…I have tried many times to sew and I just fail… 😉 that’s why I have awesome friends who make thing for me hahaha! 😉

  6. I love it!! You did an excellent job!! I have the same fears with sewing. My mom is a great seamstress and that just seems to add to my anxiety of screwing it up. Hence, you have the socks. lol.

    But this year I am determined to make some headway with this obstacle. I bought some patterns of things I adore and are way out of my budget to buy already made. I bought the Gracie & Berry Picker skirt patterns from Portabellopixie aka Sandy Henderson. And the Emmeline apron pattern from Sew Liberated. Now to find my fabric- probably from my Mother’s stash.

    My first foray into creating clothes for my kids is with costumes- simple and easy to piece together- don’t have to be perfect. I will actually make a post about it soon. My mom always made our costumes and how am I going to learn to carry on the tradition if I don’t do it myself.

  7. Honestly Jenn, I must say, I’m quite jealous! It looks FABULOUS! The fabrics go together so well too. I have a sewing machine and sewing lessons on my to buy/to do list too. Sewing is something I have always wanted to learn and I feel inspired to know that a beginner, such as yourself, did such an amazing job! THANK YOU for sharing! Lil’J looks stunning as always! 🙂
    from Karringtons Kreations

  8. LOVE this dress!!!! I was just stomping my feet over the fact that I can’t find anything cute that I really like for my daughter to wear to celebrate the Halloween holiday. I WISH I had this dress! Thanks for sharing. I’m officially jealous. LOL

  9. You mastered the art of sewing pretty quickly. You keep saying you’re not all that creative but I’m beginning to think you’re just trying to be modest. LOL. I see an etsy shop in your future.

  10. I LOVE it! I was so excited when I made my first dress… a knot dress, too. But I think this one is much better. 🙂 I didn’t use a real pattern for mine, just traced around a dress we had and hoped it would work, haha. It ended up a little tight so I’ll do it a bit different next time but I loved doing it so much that I can’t wait to make more. 🙂 You’ll have to try a skirt soon, those are SO easy! Really, yours is totally gorgeous, I would buy it in a minute. I’m thinking I might have to purchase that same pattern. 🙂

    (Here’s a link to my first one:

  11. I just checked out that link and had to laugh – it’s the exact same person I’ve been thinking about getting the same dress KIT from – you know, she sends you the pieces all cut out and you just sew it. I figured then I would have the pattern, too. lol Good taste!

  12. This dress made me wish I had a girl! I have two young boys…1 and 2…12 months apart. So I am not going to do the ‘try for a girl’ thing for a while 🙂 Beautiful dress and beautiful little girl!

  13. Adorable! I’m like u with sewing hubby bought me a basic sewing machine from Singer…per my request…and it sat in the box for like 3 mos because I didn’t know how to use it….asked my wonderful MIL for a quick sewing lesson…and so far I’ve only made leg warmers…but plan on making other things too soon

  14. I may just have bad taste, but I thought the first dress was cute. This one is way cuter though. Your little one is ADORABLE!. Also, I started reading the post before this one and as soon as you said “not everyone has encounters with black folk” I started searching for the subscribe button. My type a lady.

  15. I forgot to mention. I attempted to make a dress for my daughter’s birthday after a 10 minute tutorial on how to use the MACHINE. I did finish and she did wear it, but it was a process. I promptly enrolled in a sewing class after that.

  16. Love, love, love the dress! Great job, mama! I’m gonna book mark that pattern for future use…and show this to my mom…she’s the seamstress in the family! 🙂 Keep up the awesome work.

  17. Hubby & I just learned that we have #3 on the way, and all I can say is TGFP (Thank God For Pinterest), b/c it lead me to your awesome blog! And you SEW! (Well, you’re like me and you love the idea of sewing cute things for your kids but by no means are an expert but have pulled off some really cute stuff by the grace of God, lol!). I’m so glad I found you! I’ll be subscribing right along side your in-laws and whomever else reads! Heee! Too excited! 🙂

    p.s., Fab job on the dress! Love the buttons.

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