Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Birthday Kuspuks for my Nieces

All of my nieces have their birthdays in November and December. I find this to be really inconvenient (like it was at all up to me). I love to get them presents and I only get to do it once a year because their birthdays and Christmas are so close together. Plus, all the sewing for them is done at one very crazy time. This year I did more sewing for them than usual. I already posted my 6 year old niece's Christmas dress. This post will be about the Alaskan kuspuks I made for my 6 and 3 year old nieces for their birthdays.
Kuspuks are traditional Eskimo dress for men and women. There are different types for different times of year. For the winter they are made of fur and are very warm. I saw quite a few of these on New Year's Eve when we went to see the fireworks. They looked so warm and cozy. The summer style is usually made out of cotton. For women and girls they can be a shirt or a dress or a coat. The version for men and boys (snowshirts) are the same style with out the ruffled skirt and can be used as shirts or coats. They are a very versatile piece of clothing.

Front of Kuspuk for 6 Year Old
(My son is modeling and I promised his face wouldn't show.)

Kuspuk for 3 Year old
(She has plenty of room to grow.)

Pattern Description: The kuspuk is a light fabric parka that is worn in Alaska during the summer. Eskimo women make it in bright prints and wear over their fur parkas in winter to protect the fur.

This pattern by Lois is designed so the flounce may be left off during construction of the garment to make a boy's parka or a shorter summer parka. The garment slips over the head and has a front zipper. Almost any type of colorful material may be used, although the fabric should be durable. Decorative braid or rickrack is used to trim the garment.

Pattern Sizing: I purchased 6-8 (child) but they are available in toddler up through adult sizes. I made the 6 for the 6 year old and sized down a bit for the 3 year old.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes. The picture on the front is a pretty basic sketch but my garment looked pretty much like the sketch.

Were the instructions easy to follow? They were okay. Most was fairly clear. They didn't give clear directions about attaching the pocket or placement lines where to place pocket. Zipper instructions were also very sketchy.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked that it is an authentic pattern created by Alaskans and used by Eskimo women. It is a very cute shirt/dress. It can be worn for a while even as a child grows because it can be a dress or shirt.

Fabric Used: cotton
I purchased years ago probably from Joann's.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn't put in a zipper. I wanted to use my new snap press and snaps so I adapted the pattern. All I did was add about 1 1/4" to the center front of each front piece. I also folded the flounce in half and gathered it to the top so that it wasn't as long and I didn't have to hem.

Close Up of Snap Front

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? My daughter would like on but right now I don't feel like making this again when I have so much else I would like to sew. I would recommend this pattern to others if they want and authentic Alaskan garment.

Conclusion: A pattern with sketchy instructions but worth making if you would like this type of garment.

You can purchase this pattern through Northern Threads in Fairbanks, AK.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Have a great day!

Until next time...


  1. That is too fun! They are both very cute. I'm sure they will get a lot of use!

  2. Very cute! And, I leanred something. I had no idea what a kuspuk was. Very interesting.

  3. thanks for sharing this. I have a vintage kuspuk pattern (I think the same company.) My father in law (who lives in Alaska) and daughter have been urging me to get started on making it!

  4. I've been looking everywhere on line for one of these!!! I might have to learn to sew. I have a friend who has a fleece lined Kuspuk with a zipper up the front.

    I LOVE your colors!


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