Freebie Friday – Little Girls, Big Style by Mary Abreu

The weekend is almost here, and what better way to celebrate than with a new sewing book packed with colorful inspiration and stitching know-how. Today we're giving away one copy of Mary Abreu's adorable Little Girls, Big Style (C&T Publishing, 2010). If there is a little lady in your life, you will absolutely love this book and the more than 20 projects and patterns inside. For a chance to win, simply comment on this post and we'll choose one commenter at random (comment by midnight Sunday to be included in the giveaway). For a little more on Mary and her creative process, read on for an exclusive Q&A.


SewDaily: Who first taught you to sew and why did you learn?
Mary Abreu: My mom really inspired my interest in sewing. She sewed so many of my clothes when I was growing up and I longed to be like her! On the downside, she was a perfectionist and really frugal, so could not stand the thought of a sewing project not being useful and would jump in to rescue anything that was not turning out well. It was literally decades before I learned how to fix my own mistakes.

SD: Where do you find inspiration for your new designs?
MA: Anywhere and everywhere! I'll see a detail on a piece of ready-to-wear clothing that I like (even clothes for men and women) or sometimes even home decor items (some of the shabby chic pieces have the coolest trims). And of course my daughter, the fashionista, is a constant source of inspiration.

SD: Does your daughter also have the sewing bug? Did she help design any of the projects in the book?
MA: I think she's at least as much of a fabric junkie as her mom! She's grown more opinionated as she's gotten older and definitely has a say in what she wants, more so now than when I was working on the projects for the book. We're working on sewing — she has her own machine — and just taking a really casual approach to it right now. She's only 6, so I follow her cues, which means we tend to work in little chunks of time here and there. She's made a few things by hand and has big plans for sewing over Spring Break and summer vacation.

SD: Your ensembles are so colorful. How do you select which fabric prints and colors to combine?
MA: I love color and pattern and texture! There are times when I know what I want to make and try to find the fabrics that bring that idea to life. Other times, the fabric speaks to me (that sounds so weird, doesn't it?) and I just sort of see what it can be. Once I know the main fabric, I can usually go from there and decide how many fabrics I'll use. I'm not always super matchy-matchy, so that really broadens my options for colors and prints. I am, however, a huge fan of polka dots, so it's rare that I don't use one in a project.

SD: What are your favorite details to add to little girls clothes?

MA: Ruffles are one of my daughter's favorite things so I tend to use them often. Rolled hems — on wovens and knits — are so fast and easy that I'll often incorporate them on sleeves and hems, especially if I'm short on time (they're much quicker than turned hems).

SD: How was the photoshoot with the girls? Did they adore the garments you made for them?

MA: Fortunately I've known nearly all the girls since they were little bitty things, so I think that helped them interact with me a little more easily than if I were a complete stranger sticking a camera in their faces. I'm also lucky to have had great help at the shoots from my older son (who's been my faithful assistant for years) and the moms of the girls, which let me focus on getting the shots you see. And everyone — the girls, the moms, bystanders — could not stop commenting on the clothes, which always brought a smile to my face.

SD: What advice can you give our readers regarding making clothes for little ones?
MA: Kids grow, and they do it on their schedule not ours. I advocate keeping a sewing notebook with your child's measurements in it and dating it, then periodically updating it. I've actually been wanting to make a dress for my daughter for at least a month but haven't been able to get started because her measurements were last taken in August.

Jump in and get sewing! It sounds so simplistic but I really believe the best way to learn and improve is just to do it. I think we are so incredibly lucky to live and sew at a time when there are so many things available to consumers. There is an abundance of fabrics, patterns, online and real-life communities and guilds, books and more to help us embrace new techniques and styles. It's so easy to play, experiment, refine and embrace your style.

I think back to the clothes my mom made for me and it never fails to make me smile. I may not have one piece of that wardrobe but I have those memories and the knowledge that my mom loved me and took the time to make such beautiful things for me. Clothes fade, styles change but memories — no one can take those away. I hope that my daughter one day looks back at the sewing I did for her and feels the same way I do about my mom's sewing.

Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


For Children & Baby
Nicole Smith

About Nicole Smith


My name is Nicole and I am a contributing editor for Stitch Magazine. I'm originally from Texas but now live in Brooklyn, NY where I try to squeeze my fabric collection and my six sewing machines into a Flatbush apartment.

Previously I was the Lead Editor of SewStylish magazine and Associate Editor of Threads magazine. I was also the Crafts & Decorating editor of Adorn Magazine and worked in the fashion and beauty departments of Teen People and Seventeen Magazine.

My second book, Dorm Decor (Chronicle Books) with Theresa Gonzalez, is available now. My first book entitled Fashion DIY (Sixth & Spring Books), which I co-authored with Carrie Blaydes, is also available now. I'm currently working on my third title to be published by Lark Books in 2012.

43 thoughts on “Freebie Friday – Little Girls, Big Style by Mary Abreu

  1. I don’t have any children of my own, so I love sewing for my friends’ kids. It’s a tangible way to show them my support of and shared joy in their motherhood. Plus, an excellent excuse to use a new, fun fabric! Looks like an awesome book, can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  2. I was just eyeing this book at our local fabric boutique! We are expecting our first wee one in October and I have been looking for some inspiration!

  3. I love the fun factor in her clothes! I have a new great niece and I am going to have lots of fun making clothes for her like I did her mommy. I know she would love these for her little girl.

  4. I LOVE to sew for my 2 daughters! I feel like I’m channeling my grandmothers a bit because they were amazing seamstresses. They sewed beautiful things for people that they loved! Now I’m passing on that tradition, and teaching my girls to sew as well. We would LOVE to have this book!

  5. Please please please! I never enter these because I never win, but I would absolutely LOVE this book. I love to sew for my own two and five year olds, as well as their little friends. I grew up with my mom sewing our clothes and I think there is nothing more special than someone cared enough to stitch love into the seams of our garments 🙂

  6. Oh wow I love the outfit on this little girl and I would love to make it for my neice. I love sewing and am a big fan of this newsletter

  7. My two little girls would love the beautiful garments I could make them with the help of this wonderful book. Thanks for the chance to win it!

  8. Gosh, I just hope my daughter loves the clothes I make for her and her dolls as much as she loves the American Girl ones I pay BUCKS for! I think mine are cuter anyway — especially with such cute patterns available these days!

  9. oh my goodness! I can’t believe that this book is up for grabs! Free!! just for a comment! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the book, the author and the giveaway! Yay Mary! and Yay Sew Daily!

  10. It’s time to pick a winner!

    The random number generator picked the number 3, which means that this week’s winner is almostevelyn. Congrats! Look for a message from me (click “conversations” in the upper right corner of the site) in a few minutes!

    Thanks for participating in the first Freebie Friday, everyone! Good luck next time!

  11. Im an aspirant sewer! This interview was very Inspiration! I cant wait to bring the first generation(That Im aware of) to bring the Art of Sewing into my home in hopes to pass on the art and bring warm/happiness to my daughter and whom ever it touches! Cant wait to Jump Right iN! Thanking you! Daily;0)

  12. My daughter is my inspiration for sewing! She is in love with dresses and skirts and when we go shopping i look at the make of the clothes and im like!! “I can make this…we can make this together” The little girls outfit on the cover of Little Girl Big Style reminds so much of my daughters style! Thanks for the inspiration! Cant wait to JUmp in and get sewing! Thanks Mrs Abreu for keeping the road to sewing paved! Thanking you! Daily:0) Brandiann 101

  13. The More i look at this book the more i have to have it in my library! I cant wait to start sewing some of the colorful styles for my 4year old daughter! 1st project the book’s cover dress design! My daughter love galoshes aka rain boots! She is gonna go GaGa over the dress the model on the cover is sporting wit the galoshes! Thanking U for the inspiration! Daily;0)

  14. I love the idea of a sewing notebook. My sewing ‘diaries’ will one day belong to my son and daughters. They know the books/journals exist, but have never seen them. Makes me smile every time I think of this.

  15. I just love the color’s of the dress against the beautiful field of summer. It reminds me of my childhood. We had a huge field that we would just run through. We would laugh as we were tickeled by the hay as we passed by. That little girl has an aura of the innocence of long ago.

  16. I just love the color’s of the dress against the beautiful field of summer. It reminds me of my childhood. We had a huge field that we would just run through. We would laugh as we were tickeled by the hay as we passed by. That little girl has an aura of the innocence of long ago.