It's well known in the world of sewing bloggers that we love an independent company. Small business owners have to work extra hard to make it but their dedication is proven by thoughtfulness and an innovative approach. In return, the online sewing world is fiercely loyal to the ladies (well, it's mostly ladies) out there who are building up their sewing-based companies.
I was contacted by Katie of Little Dress Kits with an offer to review one of her kits and hold a giveaway. I was really interested in her thoughts behind setting up the company and in the features she includes in her kits so I wanted to bring you an interview as well. Not strictly speaking a pattern company, Little Dress Kits contain all you will need to make a sweet baby outfit - pattern, fabric, notions and thread.
These kits are perfect for beginners or for someone who hasn't done any sewing in a while and wants to build up some confidence. As well as the thorough instructions, the kits take away the potentially intimidating situation of choosing a pattern and fabric if you have never been in a fabric shop before. Or if you live somewhere without great access to fabric shops, these kits are perfect for you.
This is what I made from the Sweetheart Dungarees Kit:
The kits are divided into 3 levels of difficulty with the idea being that you can work your way up the levels. I was intrigued by the adhesive pattern paper - something I'd never thought of before but it certainly makes cutting out the fabric quick and easy. The pieces can easily be reused by sticking them back to their backing paper.
I made the pattern up as instructed with one key addition:
Popper tape at the crotch seam instead of sewing it up. I thought this would allow for easy access for nappy changes. I also sewed on velco under the shoulders instead of making buttonholes for the heart shaped buttons. You can see on the front of the strap where the velcro is sewn on, but I felt that hand stitching would not be robust enough to withstand repeated use of the velcro.
Here's a bit more about the background to Little Dress Kits:
Funnily enough, I haven’t been sewing for that long. I did a sewing class at school and whilst I loved crafts, I wasn't the slightest bit interested in dressmaking and admit that my mum, who I should mention is excellent at sewing, finished off (okay, if I’m being honest, she entirely made!) my school projects. However, I did always love little projects like tapestries when I was little and I have always been into crafts and drawing and a few years ago I decided I wanted a new hobby and so I bought myself a sewing machine.
I did not use, nor did I intend to use my sewing machine in a traditional way and instead used it to draw pictures on canvas and was soon addicted! I have since ‘machine-drawn' a number of pictures which have been published into greetings cards which I sell locally. It was only when I became pregnant with my daughter that I really got the dressmaking bug!
One of Katie's cards
What did you find challenging about it as a beginner, and how did you overcome these challenges?
The first sewing pattern I bought was to make a little dress for a baby. I wanted to make something for my baby before he or she was born (- luckily given my choice of pattern my daughter Esmé was born!).
I found the jargon and instructions tricky to understand (and the thin paper pattern a nightmare to fold and unfold and pin) and had to seek help to understand the steps. I felt I should have been able to follow a pattern without finding outside help. It was due to these challenges that I set about designing and producing sewing kits for beginners. I wanted to make sure that someone who has never attempted to sew anything before could a) understand clearly what they need to do and b), have all the right measurements of fabric, trimmings and thread etc. needed to make and complete the outfit.
I also wanted to come up with an alternative to the fussy paper pattern to remove that headache for beginners and developed the concept of adhesive pattern pieces. These simply need to be stuck onto the fabric (no pins!) and then cut around and peeled away. They produce more accurate fabric shapes as the adhesive pattern pieces do not slip around on the fabric (which I find pinned traditional patterns can do) so the end result is more accurate and quicker to achieve. This means that you can focus on the fun bit - sewing the garment together!
When did you decide to start your company?
It took over a year to be ready to launch Little Dress Kits once I had the idea. Having a newborn baby meant that every minute of naptimes were used to work on the business (rather than to relax with a cup of tea in front of Neighbours!) but I loved every minute of developing Little Dress Kits and I was absolutely delighted and rewarded with the general response to Little Dress Kits once launched, even in it's infancy. Since then, the business has been growing steadily and the Kits have been bought by customers as far away as Australia and America.
Tell us about the kits you have developed and the features you have included to make them easy to use
There are currently 8 Little Dress Kit designs, our Reversible Strawberry Apron Kit, Reversible Truck Apron Kit, Reversible Pinafore Kit, Little Waistcoat Kit, Nurse's Apron Kit, Car Dungarees Kit, Sweetheart Dungarees Kit and the Tractor Dungarees Kit. All of them are made up of quality fabrics (including beautiful 100% cottons and soft needlecords), cute buttons and trimmings, matching thread, a sew-in 'Handmade with Love' woven label to complete the project and of course our easy-to-follow instructions and our unique adhesive pattern pieces.
The Kits are designed with new mums, mums-to-be and of course grandmothers-to-be in mind, who fancy a creative project for their baby or grandchild. As the Kits include all of the materials needed in the right measurements, and with the easy to follow instructions and easy to use pattern pieces, they should make an enjoyable project or gift for mums who may not have the time to follow more complicated dress patterns or the time to find and buy all the necessary fabrics and trimmings to complete a sewing project.
How are you hoping to develop your company in the future?
I have a number of other designs for baby/toddler clothing kits in the pipeline and have found some adorable fabrics which will form part of new Kits. I hope that Little Dress Kits will continue to go from strength to strength and that Esmé will be proud of her old mum!
Katie and Esmé
If you are interested in winning a kit for yourself, please go to Little Dress Kits and choose your favourite kit from the site, then post here in the comments below to let me know which one you'd like. I'll choose a winner at random after the closing date.
The competition will close for entries on Friday 12th July at 5pm GMT. Entries are welcome from worldwide.