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“Growing Up Sew Liberated” – A Sewing Book Review

sew liberated book review

Time for my monthly book review – for June it’s “Growing Up Sew Liberated: Making Handmade Clothes and Projects for Your Creative Child”* (affiliate link) by Meg McElwee. I love this book! It is such a pleasant read, and would be a perfect present for a pregnant friend who sews. There are 20 fun tutorials/patterns from clothes to toys, all displayed alongside tips on the Montessori way of framing the day and incorporating independence in children.

I’m reviewing one book a month this year, check out my other sewing/craft book reviews on this page!

{This post contains affiliate links, indicated by an asterisk*. Please refer to ‘legal stuff’ in the top menu for more info.}

diy montessori cape sewing pattern

I sewed up the reversible hooded play-cape for my son, I’m going to tuck it away for a Christmas present! I’m not a Montessori expert, and we definitely don’t follow the principles to the letter, but share many of the values. I truly believe the more time we spend, outside the happier we all are, and we’re actually working on converting our backyard to being more of a ‘natural playscape’ with loose parts to play with – like those stumps!

running in the cape

I honored the Montessori/Waldorf idea of using quality, natural materials with real silk (green) and high quality batik quilting cotton, both from Jo-Ann Fabrics. I let him pick out the colors! I think he did a great job of matching them, even if I really don’t like that shade of green. Check out this felt fairy wand tutorial that would pair perfectly with the cape!

play cape

I loved watching him twirl around as the wind caught it!

wood button

I received the buttons for free from Jen at 52 Lasers, how cool right! You can see some of the other buttons she’s made in her blog post here. I will say the closure is actually the only part of this pattern I didn’t like. Montessori stresses independence and letting kids do things themselves, but this was impossible for my son to finagle when it was so close to his face. If I made another cape, I think I’d opt for an easier closure and depending on how much he wears this, I might have to reconfigure it with some Velcro.

hood detail

The colors are so rich!

Cape with tonka truck

This picture made me laugh. A big yellow Tonka truck is so not Montessori style.

montessori sewing book

reversible hooded cape

There are two sizes, I made the smaller one. I’m half tempted to make the larger size for me – it looks like so much fun to run around in!

Book: “Growing Up Sew Liberated: Making Handmade Clothes and Projects for Your Creative Child”* by Meg McElwee (Meg also has a Sewing With Knits* class on Craftsy!)

Publisher: Interweave

Focus:  A collection of 20 sewing projects for young children, serving them from morning to bed-time, all with a Montessori focus.

Project List Overview:

crossover tee

Greeting The Morning: Envelope Tee / Heartwarming Reversible Baby Sweatshirt / Reversible Bubble Pants / Tiny Baby Leggings / Crossover Tees / Basic Pocket Pants

Bread Sharing + Homemaking: Silk ring sling / All-by-myself bib / Embroidered Placemat / Learning Through Everyday Tasks

little amigo doll

Inside Play: Little amigo cloth doll / Little amigo cloth doll clothing / Irresistible numbers / Dress-up bucket / Reversible hooded play cape

Outside Play: Little amigo doll papoose / Art satchel / Nature as teacher / Naturalist’s scavenger hunt bag / Hideaway play tent

Good night, Sleep Tight: Sleeping johns / Baby sleep sack / Kitty lovey puppet


  • Most of the Montessori principles resonate with me as a parent, so her focus on comfy, accessible, soft clothes for kids makes me happy! This is so important to me, and I really hate seeing infants in restrictive jeans or dresses because they ‘look cute’.
  • You get a ton of activity ideas alongside the projects, the flow of the book is so well executed.
  • There is a large range of projects, appealing for both genders and many ages.
  • I love the multiple photos and different angles of each project!
  • The sewing supplies and skill builders in the back are all clear and sensible
  • The pattern pieces are full size, you just trace them.


  • Not necessarily a negative, but to be aware that the clothing sizes for baby clothes go up to 24m & the kid clothes go up to 5T.
  • On several of the reversible items, she says “just flip it inside out if one side gets dirty! Which is gross, because then the dirty side is against the baby.


Here is a shot of the technical illustration & pattern page to give you an idea of what those look like!

sew liberated pattern drawing

If you like sewing & craft books, check out all my other reviews!

sew liberated book review

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Wednesday 24th of June 2015

Awesome! I remember getting this book as a present and loving all the projects. Now, as a mom of three, I'm enjoying the wonderful stories and parenting tips even more than the projects. :) Ok, maybe not more, but just as much - I had forgotten all that good stuff in addition to the sewing projects. I've made the crossover tee and my daughter loves it. I have a list of many more things I want to make from this book...just need to find the time to make them. :)

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 26th of June 2015

Yes, if only sewing books came with more time!! I agree though, this is one of my favorites. Hope to see something you make out of it soon!

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