Sewing with Kids: Drawstring Dress Project

Confession: Crafting with my kids is not my favourite thing to do. Especially when it’s a specific project that requires a good deal of adult assistance. There’s too much of Mum cutting, reading, sewing, and not enough for the kids to do, and their restless hovering while I get the project to the next phase of kid-readiness tends to make me a bit testy.

However, it’s good for my kids to learn how to do things. Like use a sewing machine. And without my help, that’s not going to happen. One of their friends was having a birthday, and, like my girls, she is the owner of a Maplelea Doll.

Maplelea Dolls are the big thing in my girls’ circle. They are very like American Girl dolls, but they are Canadian and represent different regions of Canada. They are also expensive! My daughters saved their own money to buy their dolls, but when it comes to clothing, we’ve been too cheap to buy the (beautiful) outfits available on the web site. Fortunately there are many patterns available online for American Girl dolls, and there are only slight differences in the body style of the two dolls.

I downloaded this free Drawstring Dress pattern from Liberty Jane designs, and we picked out fabric for dresses and stitched them together one sunny afternoon.
The girls found pinning and cutting out patterns very tedious! (I didn’t tell them that I could have more easily and quickly cut them with my rotary cutter.)

It was also a trial to figure out which were my sharpest sewing scissors. I think someone may have been cutting paper with them!

Sewing a drawstring dress is a matter of straight lines, so it was a good project for a beginning seamstress. The girls both learned how to control my machine and keep a relatively straight line, and I stayed nearby to correct any mistakes and thread the bobbin when it ran out.

The dolls modelled the dresses after they were completed. For some reason, the green dress turned out very short – I had adapted the pattern slightly to add a black border along the bottom, and I think I didn’t allow enough seam allowance. So I found a pattern for simple elastic waist pants and we stitched them up as well. And we added a ruffle to the bottom of the purple dress to make it a little dressier!

The girls were thrilled to give their friend two doll outfits, and it was cool that we were able to take one pattern and make two rather different looks. And I survived a sewing session with two girls panting over my shoulder!

2 Comments

  1. Brenda J. Moore · October 13, 2012 Reply

    I started with a battery operated “Barbie” sewing machine when I was 5, making blankets etc. from scraps of fabric my Granny gave me…still sewing to this day. Moved up to a better machine too. haha
    I think sewing is such a great craft, hobby, necessity for kids of both sexes to learn; way to go accomplishing this project.
    The doll dresses are very pretty and have pride attached!

  2. Karin · October 14, 2012 Reply

    Wonderful!
    I actually chose this for my career and do this Monday-Friday – but I have 16 kids sewing at the same time. Sometimes during class I actually stop and wonder – how (and sometimes why (-; ) do I do this? It is really stressful but seeing kids create, and enjoying it is so rewarding! Have a great Sunday!
    Hugs!

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