Hot! The “All Things Amish” Dresses and Aprons

The Facts

  • Fabric: green, purple, and black cotton solids
  • Pattern: Simplicity 3725 for dresses (modified), none for aprons
  • Year: 2007
  • Notions: buttons, thread
  • First worn: The newest dresses will be used in a photo shoot on August 30, 2012
  • Wear again?: Possibly for dress-up
  • Total price: around $60

Last year, the marketing director of one of our fiction divisions asked me if I could make some Amish dresses, aprons, and bonnets as references for an illustrator. We were developing a 4-book chapter book series for girls ages 8 to 12 that would have illustrated covers and line drawings throughout (sort of like the Little House books). I said “sure” and whipped up the first batch–two light blue dresses, two black aprons, and two black bonnets. Then suddenly the cover art switched gears and they decided to do photos for all the book covers. And now that the dresses weren’t merely reference points for an illustrator who could make them any color he wanted, we needed to have different dresses for every cover. So I made a burgundy dress for the second one. Here are the first two covers (though the books haven’t come out just yet):

Well, the time has come for more dresses, and it perfectly coincides with this book challenge (that’s what we call providence, ladies). Our Lily model is growing fast and her sister who is the model for one of Lily’s cousins/friends in the book (and who is in the illustrations and may be on a future cover) is as well. So the girls need new dresses in new colors and new aprons. So for this challenge I had to make four separate things (hence, needing to get started as early as possible to get everything done on time).

This time around I used higher quality cotton and fixed a few fitting and sleeve issues I’d had on previous iterations. I hope everything fits the girls and looks great for the photo shoot! My photo shoot looks ultra crappy because of the blazing sun. The colors are actually quite a bit richer.

These books will be the first where my work appears on both the front and the back (as I write the back cover copy for most of our trade books). It’s fortunate that this project came up when it did, because I’m pretty sure I suggested this challenge and NOTHING was coming to mind (my favorite book being Watership Down and my stash containing no fabrics that evoked rabbits). So even though I would selfishly much rather have been making something for yours truly, this week it’s all for the Amish…er, sort of.


Erin Bartels

Erin is a copywriter by day, a novelist by night, and a wife, mother, dressmaker, quilter, zoo docent, painter, poet, and photographer in between. She only gets paid for the copywriting.


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  1. A little photo shoot update: The shoot went great yesterday and everything fit like a dream. :)

  2. Awesome to here. Glad the photoshoot went well. They love beautiful in the pictures.

  3. Erin, congratulations on sewing the Amish outfits for soon to be published books!. I’d love to be in your shoes. What an honor!

  4. How cool is all this?! I’m going to have to keep my eyes out for these. Congratulations on a project well done.