Dressing Little Girls by Tonya Davis

As anyone with a daughter who wears over a child’s size 6 knows, dressing our young daughters modestly can be a complicated process. The big-name clothing manufacturers apparently believe that up until size 7, girls can wear feminine dresses, sweet pinafores, and comfortable shoes, but when they reach a size 7 and beyond, they are to be dressed as a popular model in a fashion magazine would be clothed. Since a modestly attired woman would not want to be dressed this way, they would certainly not want their dear daughters dressed in this fashion.

It can be a challenge to find modest clothing for little girls, but it can be done. One of the most obvious and least expensive methods is to learn to sew for them, or, if they are older, teach them to sew for themselves. Most pattern catalogs found at Wal-Mart, Joann Fabrics, or other stores carry patterns for simple dresses, skirts, aprons, or blouses, and oftentimes they will have pattern sales whereby patterns can be purchased for as little as $.99. The costume section of pattern catalogs have patterns for prairie-style dresses, Renaissance, and other simple styles that can be adapted in some way.

Friends Patterns and Common Sense Designs Patterns, Harper House, and Sense & Sensibility are some sites that have excellent patterns for young girls with some different styles than those you would find in Simplicity, McCall’s, and such.

A simple idea for one beginning to sew is to take a plain t-shirt and cut off 3-4 inches from the bottom. Next, gather fabric the length you like, hem it, and sew it to the bottom of the shirt. There you have a dress! Add a matching scrunchy for the hair or some trim on the sleeves, and your custom-made dress looks store-bought. Another idea is to purchase a used pair of bibbed overalls (or use a brother’s worn-out ones) and cut off the bottoms. Then, take some feminine fabric, hem the bottom, gather the top, and sew to the bottom of the bib top. With a dainty blouse, ankle boots, and matching hair ribbons, this makes a dress lovely enough for Sunday services as well as everyday work.

There are some Internet-based home businesses that offer dresses made to your specifications. Lilies of the Field and other similar sites offer catalogs that allow you to pick the dress style you desire, what embellishments to add–ruffles, long or short sleeves, collars, or tie-backs–and the fabric based upon the many different patterns they offer. They both offer well-made pantaloons, aprons, and pinafores for everyday use as well as for dress-up. Lilies makes modest bathing suits for girls as well as ladies, too. Wardrobe Classics is another company that makes dresses and jumpers and offers a “Dress of the Month.”

If sewing is not an avenue you wish explore, there are many mainstream catalogs that carry nice clothing for girls. Land’s End always has some good quality dresses that wash well and last for a very long time. Their knit dresses are good for play, and their knit tights will last for a few years if not treated too roughly. Land’s End also has especially nice leather shoes that are low-heeled and comfortable with a traditional look.

Hannah Anderson also carries some good quality (mostly knit) clothing that washes well without pilling, although some are in prints that are rather loud. However, a careful look at the catalog will lead you to excellent tights, wonderful underwear, and nice slips.

Storybook Heirlooms, Strasburg Children, and The Wooden Soldier all carry heirloom style clothing of good quality. Storybook Heirlooms offers dainty gloves, pettiblouses, slips, shoes, and tights that are somewhat difficult to find elsewhere. Lately, this catalog has been offering more modern-looking styles in addition to the more classic ones. The Wooden Soldier has a good selection of wool coats, nice rain coats (which are not easy to find), Victorian-style boots, and other fine clothing. Strasburg has beautiful dresses with handsmocking and embroidery and has feminine slips and cardigans. They have outlet stores around the country, and one may contact these to receive the discount prices on some of the items in their catalog.

Our little girls are learning their sense of style now, and we want them to learn their own style, not slavishly follow current trends. We, as mothers, want to guide their style, not leave it up to “Lizzie MacGuire.”

Biondina by Lord Frederick Leighton
[This article originally appeared on the old LAF and was a reader favorite, so it has been moved to the “new” LAF! ~ Ed.]

3 thoughts on “Dressing Little Girls by Tonya Davis

  1. I went shopping for dresses for my daughters for Easter. I found an adorable dress for my 7 year old daughter that is a size 6x. I could not believe the different when I was looking for my other 2 girls. They are a size 8 and 10. It was horrible. So far I havent found them anything. We will probably stick with a skirt and cute shirt.


  2. This has always been an issue for us!

    I do sew for the girls and we look hard to find classic styles or simple skirts etc….Dressing your daughters modestly can be done!


  3. I really like the clothing at Hannahlise.com. Some of the young girls from our church wear the skirts and they look really pretty. It’s hard to find near-ankle lenth skirts, but Hannahlise has them. In my opinion they look more feminine than mid-calf skirts.


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