Blog Tour/Giveaway: Little Girls, Big Style by Mary Abreu

Little Girls, Big Style by Mary Abreu
Stash Books/ C&T, 2010

Today we welcome the awesome Mary Abreu, who writes the blog Confessions of a Craft Addict and just had her first book, Little Girls, Big Style come out with Stash Books (an imprint of C&T). Mary and I have hung out a number of times at Quilt Market, and it’s been so cool to see this project evolve. Sewing kids’ clothes, especially girls’ clothes, has always been a mainstay of sewists, but it has really taken off lately. Younger sewist/parents (and the grandparents who love them) are looking for more options in the way of patterns and fabrics, and the market is responding. Mary’s book is all about options — she includes four base patterns (bodice, a top, a pair of pants, and a skirt) and shows a gazillion ways to customize them. You can go as minimal or as ruffly as you want, which makes this book great for both traditional and contemporary tastes.

{ Sample page from Little Girls, Big Style showing variations of the Basic Top/Dress pattern included in the book. Pinafores! }

I asked Ms. Mary about her unexpected use of contemporary quilting fabrics to sew the samples for the book, the plans for all the wonderful apparel fabrics coming out these days, and how she was influenced by European pattern companies. After the interview, leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of the book courtesy of Stash Books!

You use a lot of “grownup” fabrics not specifically designed for girls — was that a conscious decision? Does your daughter help you pick out fabrics? And do you see the use of more sophisticated/nontraditional prints for girls (and boys) as a trend in the market?

I don’t think it’s a conscious decision at all. I buy and sew what I love, and that’s often fabric that I don’t think was designed with children — or even clothing — in mind. Sometimes that might be a fun owl fabric designed by Amy Schimler. Other times, it might be a watercolor hummingbird by Phillip Jacobs. I think color is probably more of a deciding factor for me than anything: I definitely gravitate to bright more than subdued, especially if it’s blue. I have four times as much blue in my stash as anything else!

The ready-to-wear clothes my daughter owns are a lot like what I sew for her, too. Neither of us is really into character clothing but we love texture and color. She’s quite opinionated about what she does and doesn’t like, and she’s not shy about sharing that opinion. Fortunately we tend to like similar fabrics, so it’s rare that I buy something for her that’s not a winner. Of course, there are times that she surprises me and insists on a fabric that I might not have otherwise chosen or one that I want but in a different colorway.

Lately I’ve been helping out at the quilt shop and I think more and more customers are looking for sophisticated, contemporary fabrics instead of novelty fabrics for children. And it’s not just for apparel — it’s for quilts and home décor items, too. I think people want fabrics that are a little more timeless, fabrics that will grow with their children instead of being outgrown in a year or two. I think Wendy Bellissimo had a huge influence on that with her nursery designs and you can see it at places like Pottery Barn Kids, too.

You must be excited about all the new designer apparel fabrics like voile and velveteen coming on the market — have you worked with them much?

I am so in love with these new substrates, I don’t think I can even convey it! I was at my local quilt shop to pick up some of the new Innocent Crush velveteen as soon as they unpacked it (and that’s not an exaggeration). I really love quilting cotton and I’ll continue to use it but voile, lawn, velveteen, 21-wale corduroy, interlock knits — they’re intended for apparel and I love working with them. I’ve already made myself a skirt from the velveteen and a pair of ruffled pants from the book for Miss L with it (and used the coordinating quilting cotton for the ruffle) and folks who’ve seen them have just gone crazy for them. I may live in the South but it’s really too cold even in Atlanta to wear pants made from quilting cotton right now. Velveteen and fine wale cord are warmer, more durable and really more suitable for pants, in my opinion. The fact that it’s 100 percent cotton and easy to care for makes it even more appealing.

I read that when you started sewing for you daughter, that European sewing patterns opened up a whole new world for you, and they inspired your patterns in the book. Can you go a little more into depth about that? Which are your favorite companies?

My collection of Euro patterns keeps growing and I can’t see it stopping anytime soon. I think what appeals to me about the Euro patterns stems, at least in part, from my love for European children’s clothing. I am just crazy about Oilily, Room Seven, Jottum, Catimini, Deux par Deux and the like but the prices just didn’t work with my frugal nature. The Euro patterns had that same sort of design sensibility but let me have the creative freedom to go as wild or mild as I wanted — while still being budget conscious. The styles are wearable, sometimes a little whimsical, with an amazing attention to detail — like curved hems or bell sleeves — with alternate views so you can change them up. Onion, Burda, Abracadabra, BizzKids — I’ve got some of all of them. Among my favorites are Mamu (many patterns include sizes from toddler up to women), Farbenmix/Studio Tantrum (the Olivia is my go-to knit dress pattern) and Ottobre (I’ve been a subscriber for I think five years now and refuse to give it up).

Thank you so much, Mary, and congratulations on your beautiful book!

To win a copy of Little Girls, Big Style, simply leave a comment on this post that somehow uses the word “pinafore.” Why? I just love the word (and the dress!)

P.S. you can follow the blog tour from the beginning to learn more about the book … some of the other giveaways are still open too. Mary also has her own big huge giveaway going on, so don’t miss that either!

12/6 Lisa
12/7 Susan
12/8 Jessica
12/9 Penny
12/10 Daria
12/11 Rashida
12/12 Kristin
12/13 Jona
12/14 You Are Here
12/15 Bari


  1. Cindy says:

    I have 2 little grand-daughters, who would look adorable in pinafores!

  2. nanann says:

    I have to be honest that I don’t know what really defines a pinafore, but I’m sure my girls need some pinafores to be properly attired little girls!

  3. susan alexander/wilson says:

    I’ve actually been experimenting with my own pinafore pattern for Asa. They seem so practical, over a t-shirt and underpants. I want this book.