Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Sewing Smart January 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 4:31 am

While I am not Mennonite or Amish, I have to admit a contentment that I find in many of their ways. Sewing clothing for the family is one of those areas that I feel deep within. Yes, it is easy to go out and buy new or even second hand clothing. There have been times in my lifetime when finances were very tight and even a second hand store was out of the question. I learned as a youth to sew my own clothing while in home economics class in school and in the 4-H club I was a member of. While not every effort was great in the beginning, I learned from the mistakes. Now, I am comfortable enough with sewing that I can make most clothing items without much problem. To do this, I have taken a method of the Amish & Mennonite people to heart. They use a basic simple clothing style for all of their needs. They are not caught up in staying in style with the current trends.

Keeping the Plain sewing in mind, I have been carefully choosing patterns for my family that are simple in design and construction. A favorite pattern source is Buckaroo Bobbins. They specialize in patterns from the Old West time period. The beauty of their patterns is that even today, you can make the clothing and it is stylish. The main consideration in making the clothing look like a “daily wear” or an outfit for a special night out is the choice in fabric and embellishments. Another bonus to their patterns is that a single packet will contain a full range of sizes. One example is our daughter’s dress & pinafore pattern which contains all sizes from 4-12 in the pattern packet. The dress has long sleeves, but those can be adjusted to any length you need. A nice warm linen for winter and a lighter weight fabric for summer makes the dress a year round clothing staple. The pinafore can be made to be worn over the dress or as a separate dress for summer. King’s Daughters is another pattern resource for modest sewing patterns in a wide range of sizes in each pattern packet.

For our daughter, I have patterns for a simple dress with pinafore, pantaloons that I can adjust the length to fit as shorts or ankle length to keep her warm in winter, a petticoat, camisole, nightgown, and a cloak. All of the patterns are simple to make. The beauty of using the same pattern over several years is that as I gain practice making that same pattern style, the work will become faster. The overall style is one that is timeless. Through the fabric choices and any embellishments I use to dress them up, the clothing can fit in anywhere.

For my husband and son, I am collecting patterns for broadfall pants, western shirts, boxers, sleep pants & shirt set, and a coat. The patterns are similar in style so learning the construction of my son’s clothing will be the same as making my husband’s. The ranger coat pattern is sold for both children and adults. The only difference in the broadfall pant patterns for my husband and son is that the boys’ version includes instructions on how to make suspenders. That is a selling point for me in that our son is built like his Daddy’s family and needs suspenders to keep even elastic waist britches up. LOL

My clothing patterns are similar to our daughter’s. A simple basic dress, apron, nightgown, cloak, and a pattern pack for “frillies” which includes pantaloons, petticoat, and camisole. As with our daughter, the pantaloons can be made to whatever length I need. In summer, the camisoles and pantaloons are made of a light weight cotton fabric. For winter, I prefer flannel as it keeps us warmer. The pantaloons can be made with a full leg or the leg gathered with elastic. Made without the elastic in the legs, they can be warn as a pair of pants and fit similar to a sleep pant. We do wear pants when doing certain chores that would be awkward in a skirt. She likes wearing pants to play outside quite often also. That is when I love the versatility of fabric choice. Made of a basic lightweight white fabric, the pantaloons and camisole patterns look like underpinnings. If I use a pretty print fabric instead, I can make the exact same pantaloons & camisole look like a nice pant & top set. The camisole and petticoat can be made to look like a pretty top & skirt. Yet another reason for buying basic clothing patterns. If you are clever in your choices, you can get more than one type of usage from the same pattern.

Other than the sewing, I am learning to knit so that I can start knitting our own winter socks. I crochet enough that I already make shawls and for our daughter, heavy ponchos to wear on chilly days. I am planning to start crocheting vests for our kids to wear in winter. Then of course there are crocheted hats, mittens, and scarves that are made each year.

Already, our daughter is starting to express and interest in learning to sew. I love it! I am going to be helping her to learn by making clothing for her baby doll. The doll clothing pattern that I have is very similar to her own dress and pinafore set. By learning to make her doll’s clothes, she will be learning on a smaller scale how to make her own clothing.


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