Roots: Sewing Your Heritage Sew-Along and Kids Clothes Week

You may have seen the new series currently underway at Elegance and Elephants – it’s about taking inspiration from your family’s roots and sewing for your kids using that inspiration. I wasn’t intending to sew along until I saw Natalie’s guest post for the series – wow!! She sewed a gorgeous outfit for her daughter with her French Canadian roots as inspiration. Natalie’s post and the fact that it’s Kids Clothes Week this week were enough to get me into action to sew an outfit for my daughter.

My Heritage: Free Settlers in Australia

We live in the south of Australia, very close to the coast. While there are many spectacular beaches in this area, the coast is also very rugged and this is where I took my inspiration from. The ancestors of my family came from Great Britain by sea in the 1800s. The first migrations from the UK to Australia were convict ships, sent to relieve the completely overcrowded prisons. Free settlers soon followed, lured by the promise of work or land or a new start. The trip took between 2 and 4 months and the conditions were horrific.


As I said, this coast is very rugged. Many, many (in excess of 600 ships) who made the voyage all the way from the UK and were in sight of southern Australia were wrecked along this coast, often resulting in total loss of life (very few people could swim). It really seems impossible to imagine the conditions of life aboard one of these ships – disease outbreaks were common, as was seasickness and scurvy.

It is interesting to imagine what type of life these immigrants thought they would have in Australia – a country with little infrastructure at that time. No doubt life once they arrived would have continued to be difficult. Little Miss A sitting here on the beach is still far too young to appreciate the opportunities she has, which are in part due to the gutsiness, bravery and determination of her great, great, great, great grandparents.


And so, in honour of our family’s ancestors who made this treacherous sea voyage, I made outfit for Miss.A. The style is definitely closer to something a little boy would have worn in those times, but we’re adapting the look for 2014 πŸ™‚ A billowy, light blouse is perfect for the harsh summer heat and the sleeves help to protect the arms from the sun which is important for fair English skin in the days pre-sunscreen when work was manual. The rolled shorts are a nod to the farming work that our ancestors took on. I chose to leave the stitching on the rolled hem visible in this vein as well – recent immigrant farmers were unlikely to have bias bound seams!!



Miss A’s top is the Voila Blouse from Carli Faye in a size 3. I totally fell in love with this pattern when I saw GroovyBabyandMama‘s version in the Stylo magazineΒ (it’s on page 43).Β I used a vintage sheet for the fabric, which I found at an op shop/thrift store for about $3. Instead of the loop and button closure that is suggested in the pattern, I followed Trine’s version and used bias tape to create a tie closure. I think it fits the vintage look.


The shorts are from Happy Homemade Vol.2, which is a book of Japanese sewing patterns. In my experience the size 2 patterns have been generous on my 2.5 year old, so instead of adding the 1cm seam allowance as directed, I cut the pattern without adding the seam allowance to size them down a bit. This probably wasn’t the best move, given I made a size 3 blouse that will fit her for ages. These shorts will fit for this month at least! I used a lovely light denim from my stash, also seen here.

I adapted the shorts pattern slightly. The original pattern has a slanted pocket opening, but I straightened the opening so the pocket is hidden. This was so I could use the butterfly print for the inside of the pocket, but it would be kept a bit secret (after this effort, I forgot to get a photo of the pockets, gah!!).



Thanks so much Heidi for this fantastic series, I have so enjoyed reading about the heritage of others, including places I know very little about like Guatemala and the Sami people of Scandinavia. This is also my first Kids Clothes Week submission. Hopefully I will get a few more pieces done before the end of the week.

How about you? How are your KCW plans coming along?



  1. Love this outfit, Renee! So breezy and comfortable for summer. Great idea to use the blouse fabric for the waistband facing. And I really enjoyed learning more about the early Australians. I had never really thought about what the journey from Great Britain would’ve been like and all those horrific shipwrecks when they finally arrived….how tragic! Thank you so much for sewing along. Oh, and your Mjia Mae Accessories are in the mail! πŸ™‚

  2. Ah Renee, I am so happy that my little foray into French Canadian history inspired you to create something for little A. And wow, I am in love with this blouse… I just can’t believe you found the fabric at a second hand store. It is absolutely amazing! And your choice of blue for the bias binding tie backs is perfect! Just the right amount of pop!

    Love this all around!

    And thank you as well for telling us more about the treck from the UK to Australia. I assume many of my ancestors who made the similar treck across the Atlantic to arrive in Canada found similar faiths. They would certainly be quite shocked to see how quickly we can cross oceans today, no?


    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Nat. I am amazed at how adventurous these ancestor people were, considering the difficulties. They most likely never saw their homeland or any family left behind ever again – amazing stuff!

  3. Beautiful, Renee! I was so looking forward to seeing this vintage sheet top after I saw it on Instagram! It turned out so adorable. I also fell in love with Voila Blouse in STYLO! I’m sewing along with Roots too!

  4. Such a sweet top! I have been eyeing this pattern for a while, this post makes me want to finally break down and buy it. Thanks for the inspiration and I always love things made from vintage sheets!

  5. Beautiful! I love the vintage shape of this blouse. It reminds me so much of the clothes children were wearing in the old photos of farms taken 100 years ago in the Cotswold valleys where I live. I’ve got really nostalgic taste! And the sheet is beautiful – I’ve really got to get cleverer at good thrifting finds. I’m too easily lured into buying expensive fabric – and really mustn’t. (although at least my latest post was a cut-up sweater! )
    And this was an interesting post too – it is amazing to think how brave and tough people were, not very long ago.
    AND – I’m so envious of your summer sun and beaches! Nearly 20 years ago I did drive along the Great Ocean Road to see the 12 Apostles. Memories of a beautiful coast, and beautiful time!

    1. Thank you so much for your very kind comment Victoria – I also love the shape of the blouse. I think I could just make 7 of these for my daughter and she could rotate them everyday πŸ™‚ We do feel very lucky to live right near the Great Ocean Rd, even though we spend a lot of time there I’m still amazed by how beautiful it is.

  6. Renee I LOVE this top and shorts combo! I agree, I am so super in love with this pattern, which I have not yet purchased, but if there is a coupon code for KCW…oooo, coupon codes are my weakness!!! Gorgeous interpretation. πŸ™‚

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