My first handmade clothes – aged 5 and 7

A few weeks ago after writing a couple of articles about how and when I started sewing it occurred to me that my kids are now similar ages to when I first fell in love with the sewing machine. Though they have both used my sewing machines they hadn’t up to this point made anything more than a bag.

They were both keen when I suggested their own sewing class to make an item of clothing that they could wear. I cut a simple pattern for an elasticated waist pair of shorts for Joe and a simple half metre elasticated waist skirt for Ella. I cut the pieces from the fabric for them.

When we were ready to start sewing they decided they were going to put there hand up to ask a question and call me Mrs Claridge! Very school like….Very funny! However that was quite short lived! I set them both up with a Brother Innov-is 10A sewing machine. These were the first machines I bought for my classes. I particularly love the feature that you can slow the sewing speed down. Perfect for beginners. You can also operate the machine with a button, so for little legs that can’t reach the foot pedal they are ideal.

For complete beginners using a sewing machine is a whole new world which is really quite a lot to take in so I am always keen to let people of all ages get used to the machine and only really focus on sewing straight lines to start with. These projects were perfect for this. It was really interesting to watch them sewing. Joe was really patient and steady, he got to grips quite quickly with following the guide line and did quite well at maintaining a straight line.

Ella also worked very carefully and patiently, she has had a bit more practice than her little brother, they both had good results.

I love the concentration in this picture!

I did start by letting them try the overlocker to neaten the seams but soon realised this was a step too far. Their little legs struggled to reach the pedal and when they did it zoomed off at high speed. I had visions of chopped up garments or a trip to A&E with chopped fingers so mummy did the overlocking in the end!

Ella had time for some creative photography while waiting for help.

I helped them with the elastic channels but other than that and the overlocking they made their own garments. They were very happy with the outcome. I had to sew a bow on Ella’s skirt for a finishing touch to satisfy her design ideas.

I didn’t witness any immediate sewing addictions for either of them, which may be a good job as I don’t think my poor husband could cope with another sewing addict in the house! Hopefully they will be keen to carry on learning to sew and who knows it might lead them to another passion along the way.

 I made them both a t-shirt to complete their outfits. They are now all ready for Summer holidays and hopefully lots more sunshine!

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...


  1. Jo on June 5, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Awwwwww! Loved reading this. How lovely that you can share a passion of yours with them, even if only for one garment. And a fabulous job they did too!

    • Julia Claridge on June 5, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      Thank you I think they enjoyed it. We will definitely try more 🙂

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