Un-Selfish Sewing: Pet Deer Dress and Pajamas

This is the latest collaboration between Lila, Me, and the Ice Cream Social Dress.  It’s all her own doing, I just stitched it.   I told her she could pick her own fabric for a dress several months ago.  Lila spotted this “Pet Deer” fabric last time we dropped by Voodoo Rabbit. (They also have an online store stocked with distinctive prints, but I LOVE dropping in on their shop. So does Lila.)  Like the Panda Dress, I had my misgivings about her fabric choice but in the end she’s so delighted with her new little frock I’m glad I made it.

She helped me through the sewing process, sitting on my lap and putting her hands on the fabric under mine.  You can read the full write up (how the dress pattern grows with her, the sushi train, and the guy who called her a hipster) on Sew Weekly. 

Speaking of Sew Weekly, the next challenge is the 1940’s.  I love the 40’s- the quirk, the scroogy cutting layouts, and over all “utilitarian-chic” flavor.  My first thought was to whip together my Advance 2997 Make Do and Mend Blazer Re-Fashion, but I want to savor that project and carefully document the process, not sew in a few hours of manic stitching.  Besides, I can’t find the damn pattern.  It’s around here somewhere- I probably stuck it in a sewing reference book and then put it back on the shelf.

Instead, I’m making some 1940’s pajamas for my husband.  I promised him pajamas three winters ago and have yet to make good on my word.  Until now!

Vogue patterns are very difficult to date- I spent quite some time digging around the internets for clues, but it seems with Vogue you should trust your instinct based on the style of the pattern.  To me, this looks like the 40’s.

The instruction sheet looks like the 40’s and besides it has that “scent” about it.  Old paper.  I love that smell.  The instructions themselves look like the early 40’s to me, especially the facings and cuffs. Do you have any ideas?

The pattern pieces are unprinted.  When did Vogue start printing on the pattern pieces?  I couldn’t find any information on that in my searches.

Just look at how perforated the front piece is.   It’s all the buttonhole and pocket and stitching markings which are perfectly ordinary once you sort them out, but it does look a little scary doesn’t it?  I wrote about working with unprinted patterns a little while ago, take a look if you’re working with one for the first time for this challenge.

A long sleeved pair of winter pajamas takes a lot of fabric- 4.5m! He wasn’t interested in something fun like skulls or tiger stripes or green army men, so instead I bought 1.5m of plain navy cotton flannelette quilt backing (double the normal width).  It’s sturdy and washes well, I used it last winter to make my 30’s housecoat.  1.5m was enough to cut the top only!  I’ll go back tomorrow and get a little more of the same for the trousers. I cut the upper collar, the pocket bands and the sleeve cuffs from a fat quarter of manly check I had lying around.  I feel like I spent most of this week behind the computer so I’m really looking forward to a few hours of quiet stitching, turning seams, pressing, etc.

Do you make things for other people?

Tomorrow: I feel some design inspiration for deliciously SELFISH sewing coming on…

Remember to tell me about your favorite dress to enter the Frock Out Giveaway!


  1. I love sewing for the kids…they are always so appreciative. I occasionally sew for a friend too and she loves it. I think Lila has great style and looks adorable in her new dress. I think we have a budding fashionista…

  2. Oh dear, I must have sewn 50 garments for others for every one I have made for me. For people from one day old to 80, and I find it easier and more satisfying on one level as I can fit and see and try things and make things that I wouldn’t fit or suit or wear, so it is a fabulous extension exercise. Only recently I’ve got into sewing for myself with real depth and care and that is also satisfying. Not that I have time now!!
    I love that you let your poppet express her taste. My mother was like that for me and as a result I have so much confidence in my taste, and am willing to take risks, not just in what I wear but in how I decorate my home and all other areas of self expression. You rock!!

    • You have so much knowledge in your fingertips..

      I figure she’ll either grow up and have really, really button-down “normal” taste (having got it out of her system early on) or she’ll be a weirdo. Either way is ok I guess. :)

  3. I just had a read over at Sew Weekly too. It is funny how kids get attracted to things you’d never guess. Our friend Eileen’s daughter fell for this hilarious print that emulated camo, using frogs in shades of weird greens. Why? Who knows! But it does suit her colouring! :)

    • Well- if it suits her coloring and she likes it, then ok right? ;) I have several little things lined up to make Lila (she asked for Pinkie Pants like mine… So I’m working on the little person translation..) that she has specifically requested…

  4. I’ve just been making my husband a pair of PJ bottoms, I’ll be hemming them tonight. This is the first time I’ve sewn for him. I also used a vintage pattern (1950s) and one major thing I found was that the crotch is really deep on them – I assume that men of the past wore their PJs higher up than today!

    • Yes, they did! :) Does your pattern have a button fly thing? Mine does, it’s kind of weird… But I guess I’ll do it anyway…

      • Yes they did have a fly bit but I just cut it off, following the curve of the fabric as my husband didn’t think he wanted them to have a fly, and I knew it would be easier without it too. Now, if only I hadn’t cut the fabric so the pattern was the wrong way up….!!

  5. I do it, but I hate it. Partly because it’s not for me and therefore a waste of good fabrics, but mostly I just feel to pressured to meet peoples unexpressed expectations. I think thats why I like Little Dresses for Africa- I know they’ll put it to use and not tell me what THEY would have done differently!

    • Hehehehe… You sound a little like Elaine. Love it. Hey- if jerks don’t understand what you put into something (or… try to tell you how you should have made it? Rude.), then sounds like you’re making good use of your talents and altruistic impulses. I love that, I’ll have to look into Little Dresses for Africa. Lovely.

    • I know, right? He meant well… Sigh. But the more I think about it, the more I guess he’s right.. Hipster-ism is about authenticity and self-expression, right? Hmmm…

      Anyway doesn’t matter, she likes her dress and I think there’s another one in the works from a rainbow colored dandelion print… ;)

  6. What an awesome dress! Lila has great taste in fabric.

    I like sewing for others when it’s on my schedule. I don’t like feeling obligated to do it, but feeling inspired to make a gift, I like that. I’ll put a lot of thought into those projects and I somehow feel better saying no to other activities when I have a gift to sew for a deadline like a party/holiday than I do to sew for myself.

    • I will tell her so. She’s mostly gotten some gentle eye rolling from me on this print thus far… ;)

      I get that. When I make a gift for someone, it’s like I spend the whole time thinking about them, smiling, all kinds of nice things (usually) and that becomes a part of the garment. Or something.. ;)

  7. Lila is gorgeous and her dress is lovely! And hooray for pj’s!

    (you’re making me want to sew. keep it up ;) )

    • Hehehe- It’s good to sew. As soon as I finish my morning emails, I will spend the *whole* morning sewing. Mmmm…. Sewing…. I may even get the video for the buttonholes done, and then that’s all she wrote.. You’ll be right in your sewing room and trying it out.. ;)

  8. That is a really fun dress–she has such great style at her tender age!

    I really like sewing for my boys. I’ve recently decided to work one day a week on things for them 1. because it’s needed and 2. because I get stuck in my own stuff and then feel guilty about not sewing for them and then end up rushing through projects for them which is un-fun for everyone. I haven’t sewn for others much. It’s so difficult to fit others, and there’s a lot of others who don’t understand this. I had a gross experience with someone who buttered me up and wanted me to make a maternity top for her and being a newbie at the time I biffed up her measurements and she got all huffy about it and never really talked to me again. I have to remind myself that most people aren’t this way, but I choose carefully the non-children I sew for after that experience too.

    • Yeah… I sew for love, but not money. And if I like someone enough to sew for them, it means our relationship can probably stand the strain of a biffed garment. ;)

      Sewing for kids is great… It’s a low-risk way to test ideas (I have a few hacks I’m trying on Lila first before I try them on me…) and learn new techniques and because they grow you can keep sewing… ;) Ever try Oliver + S? Serioulsy useful patterns.

  9. That dress is adorable. I’d better not let my Mini see it or she’ll want one.

    I find it hard to find fabric for 7yr old boy clothes so my son doesn’t get home-made clothes much. Ditto the husband. I’m nervous about sewing mens clothes, but I can’t find fabric that I think he’d wear anyway. I have made a couple of things for my sister, but generally I sew for myself and my daughter – like her skirt I finished yesterday. She’s not quite as old as your Lila, and her input is generally restricted to “thats mine” when she sees fabric she likes, which lets me decided what to do with it. So much fun planning little girl clothes! Its like a fantasy wardrobe, but it only takes about 1/6 the fabric, or less!

  10. the unprinted pattern looks scary! makes me think of a link-the-dots game :) the pyjamas are going to look great and I’m looking forward to seeing all the sew weekly contributions for the 40s challenge

  11. I am enjoying more and more sewing for others. I have my DH and two grown boys, and now the boys are broke uni students they are happy to let me sew for them again. I plant to make the Burda Jason vest next for my 22 yo son and am really looking forward to it.

  12. I am currently sewing for someone else, tis annoying me immensely. Altering a huge pile of things for mum who said ‘it wont take long, it’s only a few bits’. Hurumph!! Lila is so like you! X

  13. My kids’ participation is one of the unforeseen things I love about sewing. Sometimes they will create an outfit in their head and ask you to make it. And they love shopping in the stash. And fabric stores are like candy stores – they think they each get to pick one fabric. I obviously set a bad precedent somewhere along the line (:

    The deer fabric was a great choice! Such lovely colors.

    And ooh, I look forward to seeing the pajamas! You’re right – men take a lot of fabric.

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