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. Shannon H says:

    I loved pinafores when I was a little girl. Now I have two girls to make pinafores for!! This book is beautiful and looks like a perfect one for me :)

  2. Patty says:

    The patterns are so cute, especially the pinafore.

  3. Zrinka says:

    I wonder where the word pinafore comes from?

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. SSKcraftshop says:

    Pinafore….hmmmm Pinafore oh yes, Pinafore.
    Thanks for the giveaway

  5. Seema says:

    I need Pina fore dress for my daughter…Love it

  6. Martha says:

    I wonder why you you like only word pinafore….great giveaway.

  7. Mo says:

    I like Pinafore dresses when i was a kid my mom had made for me.
    Thanks for such wonderful giveaway

  8. Maggie says:

    Oh, I love the word pinafore! It’s as fun as saying ‘frock’!!

  9. Christie says:

    Looks like a wonderful book!

  10. stephanie says:

    I love the old fashioned feel of a pinafore dress.
    I also loved hearing about her love for the new velveteen!

  11. Laura Tawney says:

    The pinafore’s are just tooo cute in this book and I love all of the outfits. I have two granddaughters that would look absolutely adorable in many of the outfits.
    Thanks for the opportunity to participate in this fun give-a-way!
    Laura T

  12. Citra says:

    I can’t stop sewing pinafore for little girls. It is too cute to ignore
    Thank you for giving us opportunity to enter this giveaway

  13. Marcia W. says:

    When I was small, my mother dressed me in a pinafore or a simple jumper. During the summer, the pinafore could be a sun dress. These patterns would look great on my 3 grandnieces. Thanks for the giveaway and your stop on the blog book tour.

  14. robin says:

    I’ve heard lovely things about this book! My granddaughter needs a Pinafore or two in her life. :) Thanks for the giveaway!
    cokelush at gmail

  15. Denise says:

    I love pinafores! My best friend has a lovely puff-sleeved peter pan collar white linen dress for her little girl, and every time I see it I think it needs a pinafore over it. Maybe I need to make one!

  16. peggyann says:

    Don’t think I ever had a pinafore as a little girl(the late 50′s) but I love my jumpers and had to wear an apron at breakfast on school morns during the early ’60. ha!

    thanks for hosting the giveway…hope I win!

  17. Ruth says:

    My little girl looks so cute when she’s wearing a pinafore. This looks like a great book!

  18. Jill B says:

    I would love a copy of this book – my daughter loves to romp around the house in her pinafore.

  19. Gill says:

    I loved pinafores as a child and my school uniform was a grey pinafore (ugh!)

  20. pam says:

    Type the word pinafore win a book. Lets hope.

  21. Pamela Richardson says:

    So want this book

  22. Jennifer says:

    I really want to make pinafores for my girls. Not only are they adorable, but they might cut down on the laundry! : /

  23. Audrey says:

    I love little pinafores on little girls! They are so cute! This looks like a wonderful book.:)

  24. miktha says:

    I would love to sew a pinafore for my little girl, i hope the book can help me!!

  25. kimberlee says:

    I would be making tons of pinafores (I think…what exactly IS a pinafore?) if I had this cool book!

  26. Monique says:

    All my dolls had pinafores when I was little, but not me :(

  27. Rachel says:

    maybe i’ll sew my daughter a pinafore from a pattern in this book !

  28. Nancy says:

    My little granddaughter loves to play the pianoforte wearing pinafores!

  29. Colleen says:

    I love little girls in those pinafore dresses! They are adorable!

  30. Melissa says:

    I love to watch my little girls doing pirouettes in pinafores and ruffled bonnets.

  31. Mitzi says:

    I always thought pinafores were a little sweet snack but now I know better! My little gal would look adorable in a pinafore.

  32. Karen says:

    I haven’t heard the word pinafore in a while. In the land of everything gets shortened we called them ‘pinnys’. Wow the book looks mega enticing for me (non-clothes maker). Its got me itching to try something.

  33. Donna C says:

    After three sons I am hoping for a girl to arrive on Dec 22 (grandbaby) for whom I can sew a pinfore or two!

  34. Bonnie says:

    Pinafores are super cute…but I am never sure if they are to be worn with pants or…what?

  35. desiree says:

    i love those little pinafores. Thank you for the chance to win!


  36. Em says:

    There once was a girl named Lenore
    Who didn’t feel pretty anymore.
    Then suddenly she knew
    Just what to do
    And sewed up a sweet pinafore.

  37. Tanya says:

    I remember when my sister was little, my mom mad a pinafore for her as well as bloomers, they were so sweet!

  38. Carrie L says:

    I wanted to write a poem, but I don’t think I can beat Em’s! I really don’t know if my daughter would wear a pinafore, but I have some nieces who are not old enough to protest yet! :)

  39. Tricia says:

    I also love pinafores! I would love to make the one from this book!

  40. aimee says:

    I always wanted a pinafore! I promise to make my daughter one!

  41. Catherine says:

    I also love pinafores. My daughter wears one that my mother made me when I was little. And my grandmother owned one wool plaid dress that she wore every day of the week when she was 6 years old, but two pinafores to choose from to go over it. What a great interview!

  42. jamie says:

    pinafores for christmas! also the word ‘pinafore’ reminds me of the HMS Pinafore. :)

  43. Laurie Green says:

    How could you not love a dress with a pinafore!

  44. Emily says:

    I think pinafores are adorable on little ones, and even more so with their British nickname of pinny. How much fun can you have in an apron-esque dress? Little girls with big style – like my color-happy toddler – would prove it’s a lot!

    Thanks for the chance to add this book to my sewing library and more fun and functional clothing to my daughter’s world.

  45. April says:

    I still have a pinafore my mom made for me when I was little :)

  46. WandaFish says:

    The more I see of this book, the more I love it! If my daughter is lucky enough for me to win, I think my first creation must surely be the ‘pocket pinafore’ – it looks so cute, and versatile.

  47. MJ Mayer says:

    H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan’s fourth operatic collaboration and their first international sensation.

    While that’s nice, I do prefer to wear a pinafore rather than sing about one! :)

  48. Fiona says:

    Darn it! MJ beat me to it! My grandfather performed in HMS Pinafore, but I’m pretty sure he never wore one!
    Seriously craving this book – thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  49. Danielle H. says:

    Thanks for the chance to win! I really want to learn to sew a pinafore so my daughter can wear a pinafore. then all her school friends would be jealous and their moms would beg me to make them some pinafores. =)

  50. Eleanor says:

    Would love a chance to make my girls some pinafore’s- so cute!