Monday, January 23, 2012

Little Big Girl (Dress)

The idea is still tumbling around...  I want to make a pretty, age-appropriate summer dress for 5-10-year-olds. I know I'm not alone in not wanting my girl to look like a Bratz doll.  And she doesn't want to look like a baby anymore. 
My girl has had a bit of a week of it - lots of learning about kids with no sense of  "the golden rules" of play (co-operation, consideration and compromise rule at our house). 

I'm struggling to grow past Mama Bear protectiveness and onto sensible, guiding-hand parenting.  It's probably a bit like trying to navigate the path between the sweet, open innocence of everybody-loves-me infancy and the reality of learning to get along with people. We're both feeling a bit bewildered and out of our depth here.
 ...and (back to the dress, because that's SO MUCH EASIER to deal with) ...as much as I like it, I think we have to lose the bow on the back and perhaps make a more grown-up belt with buttons (or at least offer it as an option).  I've been told that bows are for babies. 

The sun-smart cap sleeves are staying.  And I have another skirt variation or two to try before I settle on one in particular. 

Edited to add: My girl only likes LONG dresses, preferably with a bit (or a lot) of twirl. She somehow climbs trees in them, bows and volume of fabric and all. I won't be making a short version for her because it won't be worn, so I'll be looking for pattern-testers (at some point soon) who want to try that variation for me.


It's a work in progress... as we all are.
When I first saw it, this fabric* spoke to me of vintage frocks with big skirts.  It cried out for a gathered waist and a party-frock feel.  I'm working towards the modern, age-appropriate twist.
*Sorry - I cut the selvedge off and forgot where I bought the fabric.
It's all about subtlety and nuances right now.  We're working through things as best we can.

So.... any thoughts on age-appropriate dresses for 5-10 year olds...? 

34 comments:

Kira said...

I don't have any children but if I did I would definitely dress a little girl in a dress like this. The print isn't baby-like and I would wear that myself and the cut of the dress is appropriate and modest without being fuddy-duddy. I don't like fussy, frilly things but the pin tucks are a lovely bit of detail without going into the area of fussy.

Tanya said...

I love it. My 9 year old wouldn't love it because she's a tree climbing kind of girl and I think she'd think there was just too much fabric. I think she'd go for the top- including the sun smart cap sleeves (my girl is a rash vest/ board shorts girl)...but maybe a slightly less full skirt and just above the knee option- would that work? I look at some of the things my mum used to make for me and gee- some of them were pretty short!

Karen said...

As another parent who does not want to dress her 5 year olds as street walkers I LOVE this dress Nikki.
The cap sleeves and little pin tucks in the front are gorgeous and I really like the v-neck too.
I think the bow should stay as an option but like the idea of a belt, just not sure what you mean about buttons on it. Or a sash as an option??
I don't think much needs to be done to this dress to be honest!

willywagtail said...

It all depends on your child I think. My first one was happy to wear bodice and skirt dresses with lots of volume but the second only liked slimming styles and sheath/princess line dresses. Its funny that the first daughter carries more weight now than the second but still likes all styles whereas number two at 18 yrs prefers the slim silhouette. I followed my children's preferences too as they are all little individuals. Cherrie

Kate said...

That is a gorgeous dress and lovely fabric. It gets tricky with girls and clothes doesn't it? Mine aren't big fans of bows and they always untie and get caught in things. Mine are very big on tunics at the moment and leggings under everything.

Lindi said...

Love the dress....minus the bow ties - they do get in the way and are a nuisance when they keep coming undone. I remember my first belted dress..I felt so grown up! :)

Judy Ross said...

I have a 12 year old daughter and totally hear you on the appropriate dress thing. My daughter is more of a shorts and t shirt girl so dresses aren't much of an issue. A few years ago I made her a couple with princess seams which had a straight bodice, flared skirt (freedom of movement without bulk) and spaghetti straps, to be worn over a t shirt. That seemed to do the trick to cover her up but not impede the tree climbing!

Amanda said...

Mine loves her dresses, and is a girly girl at 9 (this weekend). She has a gorgeous dress with a short gathered skirt which she loves to death and has a built in petticoat, another dress gathered with sheering elastic at the top and then gathered layers (really 70's hippy style) and a 60's inspired straight short number with circle band neck line which are favourites at the moment. No bows though.

BeaJay said...

Love the dress. Absolutely beautiful. What do you think about a version that echoes Simplicity 1914 at the waist to reflect the lovely v-neck?

Wee Little Birds said...

I love the dress and the fabric. I have a 4y.o. grand daughter and I would love to make her this dress. After 3 sons I just love making dresses for a little girl

kyliealysha said...

I love it. I'm sure my 5 year old would too, but she is a big fan of bows ;)

Annie said...

You know I will love it, especially the fabric-and I will follow all golden rules. The wee one and you can come and play with me anytime. Meow

quiltingbren said...

My little one is only 3 but I do agree that I do not want my daughter to dress in the really short and tight styles. I like the pintuck detail on the bodice. That is a more grown up feature. Maybe do some shirring at the center back of the dress to pull in the excess fabric and still leave room for growth.

Kate said...

Such a hard one isn't it.
Difficult social situations, slutty fashions for kids, kids that grow up and have their own styles all of a sudden...
I think the dress is gorgeous. xx

CurlyPops said...

I love it and I'd love to test it!

sooz said...

Amy is another who doesn't like so much volume or length, and she'd prefere a plain cap sleeve over the gathered version on this. Like willywagtail, mine prefers a sheath style or at least minimal gathering and maybe empire line if at all. She likes to add her decoration via print or appliqué - motifs on plain or simply striped or dotted backgrounds. She also really likes dresses made out of knit fabrics (the tree climbing comfort factor I think)

KathyB said...

Hi Nikki,
My nearly 6yo Granddaughter loves dresses, but she is a tree climbing, monkey bar girl. She'd like the dress a little shorter(she'd wearing leggings)no ties, loves the pintucks and neckline and would wear any fabric that is mauve or pink. Would love to have a go at pattern testing.

Craftysquirrel said...

With you on being anti the bratz doll look, my 5yr old is loving tunic length with tights - much easier to climb and ride a bike in. Little puffed sleeves working for her too as she doesn't like them too long. While she loves the full skirts they always come off and she puts on something more comfortable to play in.

rachelmp said...

It's a beautiful dress Nikki. I think it would be worn here in a shorter style too. My preference is to dress Maya in a classic style that's not so fussy that she can't run and play but enough details to keep me happy making it.

Angelina S. said...

That dress is so cute!

If anyone is interested, I think the fabric is from the Betty Dear collection by Darlene Zimmerman. :)

Cass said...

I think Miss C would probably be like Tanya's daughter and like it in a top although she is partial to dresses too. Both mine wouldn't like the tie at the back as they annoy them when they sit back. I love the fabric. Hope things smooth over for your little Miss

Fer said...

Such a gorgeous dress! You're right about the fabric too, it wouldn't look quite so good anywhere else. :-)

I'm sorry I can't give any thoughts for 5+ girls, I'm only limited to 2+ at the moment!

Janelle said...

I LOVE this! Very classic styling. If the pattern had the option of a slimmer, knee-length skirt, or a dropped/tunic-lenth on the bodice it would be really versitile. I think both my girls (3 1/2 & 8 1/2) would love this in a couple of variations. I might bring up the depth of the underarm just a bit too.

Ingrid said...

Mine are 7 and 9. They love the tunic and legging thing, and sometimes dresses that get too short become tunics. They also love anything with an edge of Hollie Hobbie (although they wouldn't recognize the character). I would be against the bow - too fiddly, and might require my assistance when dressing.

Bella Maria said...

Hi Nikki
I love the dress, the pattern with the fabric you have chosen is very nice
I have 6yr old and 2yr old granddaughters
I'd like to do some pattern-testing for you if you need people I live in Wantirna
Cheers Teresa

Leanne said...

It is a lovely dress. I like the bow. Great photos.

m.e (Cathie) said...

such a beautiful dress and you know what...I LOVE her hair like that, it really really suits her.
thanks for the message, BIG, big hugs.
let me know if you feel like a cuppa & chat next week..or when school goes back ♥

Lara said...

Love the dress too. Can think of lots of versions based on it. Big hugs about all the social things - for both of you. Shall chat when I'm back in town next week. Thinking of you in the meantime!

Anonymous said...

Bows are for big girls too... I wore a black and white shift dress today to work and the belt which comes with it is a wideish type of grossgrain ribbon and i tied it in a loose bow and a few people commented how nice it looked. Just saying...
Love the dress Nik.
Kerry

Tas said...

I love it- anything that isn't "Bratz" wins points with me.
It is sweet that way it is. Bow could be an option maybe?

My girlie girl would love it. She's just shove her gumboots on with it and jump in puddles or her boots and climb a tree.

Leanne V said...

I just love, love, love the dress and so does my 5yr old. She just lives in dresses and this stlying is just perfect. I would love to pattern test this for you including a shorter version or other adaptations that you wish.
thanks for all the inspiration
Leanne

Anonymous said...

I think it would even be worthwhile taking this up to 12 yr old size. Both my girls still liked to dress up for special occasions in this style of dress even when they were older, but it was impossible to buy anything. I guess some kids stay sweet and naive a bit longer than others, and it would be nice to cater for them too.

Tamara

Nikki said...

Thanks Tamara. This is exactly the reason I saw a need for a dress like this - for sprecial occasions and Sunday best, when tunics and leggings won't do.

I'll see what I can do with the pattern grading. It can be tricky to span too wide an age gap with kids, because proportions change quite radically.

Annwen said...

Hi Nikki, This is a beautiful dress. Lovely fabric, lovely design. The bodice in particular is really sweet. I have an almost 4 yr old who loves dresses. She would wear this (but I would probably omit the bow). For her, the deciding factor would be the fabric I chose to sew it up for her in! The length she would love, especially for dancing in. I have a 5 yr old niece who would love this too! My biggest problem would be getting my little one to keep it for special occasions, she might just want to wear it every day!