The kids wardrobe – The beginnings!

I started my business Bobbins and Buttons around two years ago. Pretty much all aspects of the business were inspired by my kids. From wanting to have flexible time through to inspiration for projects. It was fairly early on that I started developing children’s clothing styles as projects for my sewing classes. It was always the plan to offer a range of clothing made to order alongside the classes.

Somewhere along the line, despite having lots of garment styles developed and graded into a full size range I haven’t really got my offering out there yet. However this year I am determined to get this side of the business up and running.

The whole story started not long after the birth of my daughter. Just like most mothers it was love at first sight, this tiny little being so small and vulnerable but perfect in every way, completely absorbed my entire world day and night.

Having spent most of my career as a fashion designer with a love affair with clothing, it wasn’t long before I wanted to start kitting Ella out with her first wardrobe.

To start with all clothing in the shops was adorable, I think because it was all just so tiny and all so new. As she grew the clothing available on the high street seemed to be divided into two categories – super twee, sugar coated pink ruffled and frilled styles or mini teenagers with slogan tees, and fabric you would expect to see on much older kids. Neither of these styles really fitted how I wanted my little lady to look. I knew it was time to take to the sewing machine!

It wasn’t long before a surge of creativity happened and all sorts of creations started being made.

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One of the first creations was for her christening. Often a family heirloom, it was a no brainer, I was making this. I started to look around for style inspiration and found the same thing happened … mini Victorian inspired styles dominated. This was 2010! I didn’t really want a replica of something more fitting in 1900. I did however like the traditional element of a very long gown.

This did pose a new problem, she was 9 months old when she was christened and crawling around. With all the effort I was going to put into this gown I wanted her to wear it for the party after the event, but I knew it would be to long.

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The answer was a layered silk organza two part dress. The lower layers graded in length and were attached to a silk bodice. The upper layers were a shorter ‘party’ dress. Together they made a perfect christening gown for the church, by removing the dress with the lower layers it was the perfect party dress.When we returned home for the party afterwards, I simply took the under dress off and re-dressed her in the upper dress.

An idea was born. Clothing that had multiple ways!

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By the time she was one she had a little range of pretty dresses in nice colours and fresh prints.

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She had party dresses that didn’t always need to be pink,

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She had simple elasticated skirts up-cycled from old garments.

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I even made her some coats for special occasions.

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The ideas were starting to stack up, it was such good fun and satisfying to make her clothes that  it was an easy decision to offer clothing styles as part of my courses.

When number two baby arrived and was a boy the challenge was on to create nice clothing for boys as well. A trickier proposition but none the less one I was totally up for.

So with all this ground work done. I feel ready to launch some of the styles as made to order, while still offering them as classes.

I am constantly developing ideas and looking for solutions to both Joseph and Ella’s wardrobes and I plan to chart the progress of the pursuit and development of this range of clothing here!

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The latest project for Ella is a coat. She had two coats, aged 4 years old, one was corduroy with a hood and slightly padded and the other a more tailored coat, made in a wool blend fabric, no hood but looked good. Since starting school I realise the need for a coat to tick all the practical boxes. Warm, hooded, waterproof as well as being fun!

This was my solution, made in rip-stop to tick the waterproof box, lined in polar fleece with an extra layer of wadding between the outer and the lining. It also has internal cuffs to keep the cold out.

The shape needs some tweaking, but overall I am quite happy with it. I deliberately didnt put a zip in because I don’t think zips look as pretty as buttons. Since then I have come up with a fun idea for a zip front version, so the next version will have a zip. I do appreciate zips are a bit more practical for little ones. I am hoping this can be a unisex style and by changing the print will work for both.

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The other solution I have been working on is for my 3 year old boy Joseph. He has been a real super star with potty training, and is fully trained. However he does sometimes leave it a bit late going for a wee – with jeans especially the slim fit style, sometimes its just not possible to get the trousers down fast enough!

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I decided to try making a slimmer fit jogger, that would have a modern look and have the practical nature of being soft and easy to pull up and down.

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I was quite pleased with the first sample. The pockets were to deep so I have reworked them and cut a new pair. Boys seem to get through 2 or more pairs of trousers a day so I would like to work on some more ideas for boys trousers.

There are lots of new ideas in the pipeline as well as sorting and organising the back catalogue of existing styles. I think I am going to very busy but I am feeling really excited about the future.

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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 Comment

  1. craftysarahsews on January 26, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    I really love the joggers Julia, fabulously stylish and practical!

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