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Hands-on Fashion Design for Kids

child-designed dress from a skirt

Emma designed this top all on her own, using a cast-off woman’s skirt! She made her little hat, too – and I think she looks a bit reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn in the ensemble.

Fashion for kids: exploring design while upcycling clothing

I love to upcycle old clothing into outfits for the kids (like turning this shirt into toddler shorts for Johnny, and this shirt into a toddler skirt for Emma – now Lily, although Emma has a couple larger ones that still fit her and get worn every week), so I gave Emma some old knit outfits and let her have a go. I picked knit because I knew it wouldn’t unravel, so she could cut away without dealing with unruly threads.

She’s made a few other outfits, and I’m looking forward to seeing her creativity and understanding of fabric grow as she continues to experiment!

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

21 thoughts on “Hands-on Fashion Design for Kids”

  1. Emma’s outfit looks great! Thanks for linking to our outdoor play kitchen. We have a little play kitchen indoors too but the outdoor one gets a lot more use! :)

  2. Love it!!! I let my daughter use material and my sewing machine and just let her go. She comes up with such great ideas, it’s so fun to see what she is capable of all on her own.

  3. Quinn is quite interested in sewing and cooking right now, so I should get my sewing machine back froom my friend! You are great letting Emma have a go at old clothes! (Unfortunately) I just recently sorted out a ton and gave it to my sister-in-law (her cleaning lady is from Kosovo and she takes things along for the people there).

    Where do you get the girl’s tops from that say things like “Mom’s …”? Cute!

    What sort of books did Emma start her reading out with? What do you recommend?

    1. These were clothes that our local donation centers won’t take – they had tears/stains/other damage that was unacceptable. Perfect for Emma’s explorations!

      My girls get almost all of their clothes as hand-me-downs from friends – and are very lucky to get some very cute clothes that way!!!

      Emma started off with level 1 readers – they tend to use the same words over and over, which helps to grow confidence. I was surprised at how quickly her reading has developed, but letters have always been a strength for her.

  4. Very talented and smart kids you have. At their young age. You can see their skills in fashion. How dynamic. And as a mom, You are there to support them. Inspiring indeed.

  5. She must feel awesome just cutting into that shirt! That’s so cool. I’d love to make some baby legs for the littlest with some of his dad’s old shirts. It’s on my to-do list, but I’m not sure I’ll get to it before he grows out of the baby legs stage!

    1. I made some baby legs by cutting sleeves off my shirts when Emma was a baby. Lily never would wear them, for some reason, but Emma loved them!

  6. ‘love it! This little lady here has a very big potential to be a fashion designer! She has amazing taste on outfits! Gorgeous!

  7. Wow! your little girl showed her creativity in making her own design and she looks like she’s having fun doing it.

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