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. loralie says:

    My granddaughter can gather pecans in her pinafore as she plays in the yard.
    She could, if I won the book, & used the pattern to make her one!

  2. Pinafores are such a timeless staple in a little girls wardrobe!! This book looks like a wonderful addition to any sewing library, especially because it includes the patterns!!

  3. SewHappyJan says:

    Twas a gal named Knell,
    Who found sewing swell,
    From skirts to a pinafore,
    Her little girl always needed more,
    Oh how True Up served her well.

  4. DianeY says:

    Saw a great stage play/musical the other night – H.M.S. Pinafore!

  5. I would love to make a cute little pinafore for my niece!

  6. Amanda says:

    If I won this book, my daughter would want me to make a hundred and one pinafores!

  7. Lindsay says:

    What lovely dresses! What lovely pinafores! ;) Looks like such a cute book, thanks for the chance to win!

  8. christina says:

    Every little girls loves a pinafore — and I’ve knitted and sewn a fair number of them!

  9. Amy says:

    The word pinafore is something I remember hearing a lot as a child. My mother loved pinafores and liked to dress us in them. And then suddenly we turned too old to ever hear that word again.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. Krystina says:

    I have a little dress with pinafores from when I was a little girl that my mom saved for when I had children and this past summer my daughter wore it… I love pinafores! Please pick me! I’m just dying for this book!

  11. Mary P says:

    I never had a pinafore as a little girl but if I got the book I would make one for my daughter or my niece (or both).

  12. Gingko says:

    Well.. I’d love to write a sentence using the word “pinafore”.. I just don’t know what it is at all…
    But I would definitely love to win this wonderful book.. it just looks soooo marvellous!

  13. Kristy says:

    I never had a pinafore, I wish I had a pinny, I think I’m not too old to go pinafore-ing about. Or at least making some for others.

  14. Melinda G says:

    Oooh, the possibilities with pinafores are endless!!! They can be as simple or as funky as you can imagine! They can be made to complement any little girl’s personality!

  15. You know, you don’t hear the word pinafore very often anymore, but I can’t think of much sweeter than a little girl in a pinafore.

  16. Jayme says:

    When I think of pinafores, I think of classic little girl stories, like cinderella, and alice and wonderland. Love those! Thanks for the giveaway!!

  17. Theresa says:

    If I won I would make Pinafores for my daughter & grand daughter! xx fingers crossed Thanks for the chance!

  18. Eve says:

    I will be having my first girl in April, and can’t wait to make her some fun clothes, especially a cute pinafore.

  19. Kara Rane says:

    LucKy 2 B U
    for the winner*
    loving adorable

  20. kendra says:

    I’d love to see my two little girls in pinafores!

  21. Rebekah says:

    Ummmmmm just discovered your blog. Must say LOVE!!! And who doesn’t love little girls in pinafores :)

  22. Rachael says:

    Oh how I’d love to win this book!
    and of course make everything in it including the pinafores!
    with four little girls, I would have no lack of sewing to do!

  23. Bec Clarke says:

    A pinafore is a pretty thing,
    it makes me want to dance and sing
    a girl would look so pretty in one
    to twirl and dance is oh so fun!!!

  24. Lisa P. says:

    Wish I’d had this book a few years ago when I was searching for basic patterns for my daughter. Maybe I can make a *pinafore* or something for my younger daughter. Thanks for the great interview!

  25. Meghan says:

    Never had a dress with a pinafore unfortunately!

  26. Gillian says:

    Pinafores on little girls are so absolutely gorgeous. Brings back some innocence and sweetness to a world where they are encouraged by so many to grow up too quickly.

  27. SewLindaAnn says:

    I “pina fore” this book. (pronounced kind of Italiany).

  28. Jerry R says:

    What is cuter on a little girl than a pinafore? They are not only stylish, but functional as well! Can’t wait to see who the lucky commenter is!!!

  29. Melissa Ann says:

    My precious girls would look so cute in a pinafore. I hope I win :)

  30. Jen G says:

    Looks like a great book chock full of great stuff! My girls would love this book!

  31. April says:

    I will definitely be making lots of dresses, aprons, hats and even PINAFOREs for my baby girl Annie, due in February!

  32. Wendy says:

    HMS Pinafore – ‘I’m called little Buttercup, sweet little Buttercup, though I could never tell why!’

  33. pinafore I adore, gimme more!! (I went for the classic rhyme)

  34. silver says:

    “We’re bound for Pinafore Palace, sir,”
    They say to the smiling gatekeeper.
    “Do we need, if you please, an entrance ticket
    Before we pass through your magic wicket?”
    “Oh, no, little Prince and Princess dear,
    All pinafores freely enter here!”

  35. Becky Home Ecky says:

    “Mama, what are you using those pins for?”
    “To sew you a pinafore, my dear, from this lovely book I won on True Up!”

  36. Barbara says:

    I think Little Red Riding Hood wore a pinafore, along with that snazzy cape and hood.

  37. Penelope says:

    Currently at the top of my sewing pile is a dress and pinafore for my daughter, so this was an easy one for me. Thanks so much for the giveaway! I have this book on my wishlist and really want it.

  38. Deb says:

    I’d love to own a book teaching me how to sew pinafores; I’d surely sew one for my future granddaughter.

  39. Vicki says:

    I really need to make my daughter some pinafore tops to wear this winter/spring and into the summer! Pick me please!

  40. JenniferB says:

    oh how I would love to win this book to be able to make some pretty little pinafore dresses for my neice’s triplet baby girls. Thanks for the chance to win

  41. Cristi says:

    I have never made a pinafore dress, but I would really like to. This book looks like so much fun. Thanks for the chance to win.

  42. Bev C says:

    Lovely book, looks like a pinafore with lots of ruffles would be the first thing made from it. Thank you for the chance to win.
    Happy days.

  43. Jansie says:

    Positively peppy me, predicting pleasant pinafore’s in my poised and plentiful pile!

    (Translation: I would be oh so happy to win this book and add a pinafore to my list of projects for next year!) Thanks for the chance!

  44. kelly O! says:

    Before you can pin a five, you must pinafore!

    (Should I have given a “bad pun” warning first? lol)

    Thanks for a great giveaway!!

  45. shannon says:

    What an adorable book!
    The first dress I made for my niece was a reversible pinafore dress! She looked adorable in it and wore it forever. Now her little sister fits in it.

  46. My granddaughter would look so cute in a dress with a pinafore just like I made for her aunt when she was little.

  47. Maria M says:

    My kids would probably say that Fancy Nancy wears pinafores!

  48. Linda says:

    I want to make a pinafore for cousin PML. She’ll be 2 on 12/30 and if I start soon…the pinafore will be ready for Spring!

  49. Jackie H says:

    Ah, pinafores, something my son would rather not wear. ;)

  50. Shannon says:

    One of my favorite outfits when I was little was a pinafore my Nana made me. She made my sister a matching one, but MINE had panties so it was obviously better.