Making Kid's Clothes from Thrifted Finds

Does anyone else’s mind work this way? You happen upon a cute garment and ask yourself is this an atrocious colour for my skin tone? You betcha. Does it have a cute adorable pattern? Of course that why I picked it up. I should probably put this down. Yea down INTO MY CART! 

The thrifted items I tend to buy would seem quite random when you look at my whole collection. (Which is starting to look like my own mini thrift store, talk about reaching goals!) But they all fall within these little rules that I have set up for myself. 

  • 1. When I pick up a piece I try and envision what it might be that I want to make. Not all the time does it come to me so I don’t let that determine my purchase all the time.
  • 2. An amazing print, this is usually what I’m searching for. Vintage pieces that just need some love have such a unique flare to them that it draws me in, like a moth to a flame. This is when the wheels in my brain really start to turn and the creative juices are starting to course through my veins.
  • 3. The garment needs to have enough material to work with and in big enough chunks. When a garment has a lot of panels to it, it won’t usually work to deconstruct to upcycle. It may still be usable though if you are just reworking that piece to fit you. That’s where you have to bring yourself back to envisioning what you want to make.
  • 4. The material needs to be in good condition. Checking to see if there are rips/tears and any stains that don’t look like they will ever want to come out. 
It’s so easy to get excited and grab everything. When I first started out, I fell into this time and time again. Then would get super disappointed when I really looked at the garment and realized there was very little that could be done with it. I would tend to get discouraged as my original plan grinded to a halt and making it hard for me to get excited about that garment again. So it just sits there until the light bulb turns on in my brain again.

The one good thing for me is that I love to make clothing for kids. Meaning I can buy a garment in a colour I could never wear in a million years, no matter how much sun I got. I also find it interesting that fabric like this in larger chunks look quite dated and not always appealing, but when it’s kid size it’s freaken adorable.

This past year I really pushed myself to work with patterns. I have mostly reworked clothing items for myself and never had to follow a pattern all that much. I often find patterns hard to understand and it flusters me to no end. I knew it was going to be a really huge challenge for me, plus my mom was not near by to help explain and show me what the instructions were asking me to do. Keeping this in mind I decided to venture away from the big pattern companies which were the only patterns I had ever worked with and looked at finding some indie pattern companies. My thoughts were that being a relatively newer company that the instructions may be updated and written in an easier way to understand. Which I have found to be true, not saying that I don’t get stumped sometimes but how they tend to explain the steps majority of the time I find to be simpler to follow. 

Keeping in mind of course what the level of difficulty the pattern is. If you are just starting out I would suggest to look at beginner patterns and then test yourself and increase/develop new skills by tackling a more difficult pattern the next time. I’m a creature of habit and love to stay in my comfort zone, so I also need to take my own advice and tackle harder projects.

One of my favourite indie pattern sites for kids is Violette Field Threads. They have a large selection of girls patterns especially and have some very cute beginner patterns as well. Check out their gorgeous patterns here. I want them ALL!

The pattern I fell in love with and had to make was the Allie Top & Shorts. 

It didn’t take much time to deconstruct the dress I had chosen because of the cute floral pattern and yup you guessed it the inability for it to be anything I could ever wear. One of the pluses of deconstruction is removing things that are not needed for a pattern you’re making. Meaning I got a zipper out of the dress, that I tucked away. Yay! You never know when you might need one and it was in perfect working condition. I love to reclaim and reuse as much as possible. 

This pattern did challenge me quite a bit, but I started with the shirt and took it slow. Taking time to read through the instructions carefully. A little trial and error, but in the end you can bet that happy dance was in full swing.

I actually ended up making a couple shirts, all of them out of reclaimed clothing. I’m pretty sure I used every pin I owned during the construction faze. Probably went a tad overboard, but that just how I roll.

Once I got comfortable making the shirts, it was time to move onto the shorts. This time I made a practice piece out of some thin cheaper fabric I keep on hand for this exact purpose. The shorts were going to be a bit different to construct since they had a big bow on the front. (The bow is optional for this pattern) It helps me to work through a pattern step by step on a practice piece. I do read through all the instructions before I start sewing, but it just doesn’t actually click in my brain until I’m sewing each step. I tend not to mind having to bust out the seam ripper when working on a practice piece, since that’s what the whole thing is about.

Once the kinks were worked out, I moved on to the real fabric I wanted to use. Just like the shirts all of the fabric used was reclaimed and either taken from other garments or a piece of fabric that had been bought at a thrift store. I decided to coordinate the shorts with the shirts, making them into little sets. 

This has been one of my most rewarding projects I’ve done to date. My sister in-law and I took these with us to a maker’s market for her small children’s boutique clothing company last year. I make a few things every once in a while to add to the boutique and it is so rewarding. Watching people pick up something you’ve made and gush over it, makes your heart just sing. As I mentioned before this pattern really helped my sewing abilities grow. Hope you get the chance to check out Violette Field Threads’ patterns and discover what all the indie pattern world has to offer. It’s AMAZING!

Until next time Create, Smile and Radiate!


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