Graduation events at the conclusion of nursery school or kindergarten can do wonders for a child’s sense of accomplishment. You will likely feel pride the moment your child announces her upcoming graduation ceremony. No need to break the bank to prepare for this event. Make your child’s graduation gown, and stash the money you'll save in her college fund.
Measure your child to see whether she fits into an extra-small or small size. Use these measurements before you commit to ordering: children who need an extra-small size measure 22 inches at the chest, 24 inches at the hip and are about 38 inches tall. Choose the small size if your child’s measurements are 25 inches for the chest, 26 inches around the hips, and she is about 47 inches tall.
Track down Butterick® #B4542, a unisex choir robe pattern that makes an ideal choice for graduation gowns. This pattern is available at fabric stores, but you can get it for about $5 plus postage if you order it from eBay.
Check with your child’s teacher to get fabric guidelines--such as cotton, rayon or crafting fabric--and ask about color, since even white comes in a variety of hues, from cream to vanilla. Ask if the gowns require a contrast color or other trim. Request swatches of material to use as your guide, if they are available.
Purchase material at a local fabric store. While you’re there, get matching thread, buttons, hooks, eyes and other notions listed on the pattern envelope. Alternately, order fabric online from a site like paylessfabric.com, which offers a variety of materials and has a great clearance section that sells $1.99-per-yard remnants. Check it out before you shop.
Set up your sewing machine, wind the bobbin and thread the machine. Lay out the fabric and pin all of the pattern pieces to the material. Use a pinking shears for very delicate fabric or scissors to cut out each piece. Follow instructions outlined on the pattern insert to sew the front, back and sleeves, add facings and finish seams.
Dress the child in her graduation gown to finish the robe. Pin the bottom hem. Adjust as necessary. Press the gown with an iron set to the temperature recommended for the fabric you’ve chosen. Grab extra batteries and a spare memory card for your camera before you head for the big event.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.