I've been making my girls' clothes (as well as my own!) for the past five years. I'm self taught, having learned everything I know from the vast offerings of sewing blogs, online tutorials, and the wonderful independent pattern makers. By independent, I'm referring to those other than the "Big Four" - Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick and McCalls, which are widely distributed in mass market stores such as Joann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, etc. These manufacturers have their own merit, of course, but for those just starting out learning to sew, the independent pattern designers often provide more explicit instructions, the sizing is more closely aligned with ready to wear sizing, and boast more unique and thoughtful style features.
One such company that piqued my interest after I felt I had gained a decent handle on the fundamentals of sewing is the French company, Citronille. I had come across the patterns and "makes," as the finished garments are often called, across the sewing blogosphere and Flickr sewing groups. The classic, tailored, innocent silhouettes immediately appealed to me, reminiscent of my favorite children's ready to wear brand, Jacadi, also a French company. Most of the patterns were written in French, and having studied the language for 8 years during my schooling, I figured I'd give them a shot. They came together relatively easily, requiring a few bouts of concentration and frustration - and some tangles with Google Translate - but nonetheless the finished garment was truly special.
I also figured this would be a good opportunity to give our readers, most of whom are new to sewing, a quick overview of the process of pattern construction. It can seem like quite an intimidating process, but really, it's simply a matter of tracing and cutting out a pattern, and sewing the pieces together like a puzzle, following expert instructions.
Patterns come with a variety of sizes, nested together with different style lines demarcating each size. The Citronille pattern I chose provides sizes 2-8. I chose a size 4 based on the measurements of my 3.5 year old. I traced the pattern in my desired size, so I could keep the original pattern in tact and use it for future sizes as my daughters grow. I then cut out the tracing paper, pinned them to my fabric, and cut out each piece.
The Citronille instructions assume the user has a certain level of experience, and can thus take certain steps upon themselves - such as finishing seams and interfacing - without specific instruction to do so.
Hop on over to these other fantastic blogs to see their entries to the Citronille challenge!
- Michelle Morris of That Black Chic
- Sherri Sylvester of thread riding hood
- Tenille Brien of Tenille's Thread
- Maris Olsen of Sew Maris
- Ari Green of Max California
- Marisa of thirtynine
- Sara Johansen of the Sara project
- Natalie Strand of Vegetablog
- Diane Reafsnyder of Gator Bunny
- Jessica Wright of Willow & Stitch
- Sara Homer of Now Try This