A unique children's clothier settles on the Hill

German rayon, Italian silk and American fleece. These are just a few of the fabrics that go into garments from Baby Nouveau. Add French buttons and Japanese ribbons, and you've got something really special.

Owner-designer Tammara Stroud recently relocated her home and business to Queen Anne. "I founded Baby Nouveau in 1991 as a fashion designer with babies in mind," says Stroud. "As a new mom, I needed to create comfortable yet stylish clothing for my children. Today, I'm proud that I've been able to expand in-home convenience for customers everywhere."

She began by making clothes for babies only, but now she makes garments and ensembles for both girls and boys ages 9 months to 10 years. Her creations are both fun and functional, with an international flair, reflecting her background.

Stroud earned a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Washington and studied clothing and textile design at Oregon State University. She traveled abroad to learn about textile manufacturing and assembly.

The name of the business reflects an authentic European feel, and the "nouveau" (meaning "new") fits. "I design from the ground up," says Stroud. She designs and sews every garment herself. Depending on their complexity, she can produce 10 to 12 garments a day. She only outsources the pattern "grading." After she has designed a pattern, someone else reproduces it in various sizes. All out- sourcing is local.

Baby Nouveau clothing is unique for two reasons. First, Stroud focuses on how kids feel in her garments, as well as how they look. "They have lots of freedom," she says. "They don't feel bound up or scratchy." Many garments have elbow-length sleeves, allowing for uninhibited play, and some are lined.

Also, just about any garment in Stroud's line can be custom ordered. If the sizing is unusual, she will measure a child like a dressmaker or tailor of yore, at no extra charge, and upon request she will vary the fabric and trim.

"I hear what my customers want because I work directly with them," she says.

All garments are machine washable, and they are affordable, ranging in price from $22 to $68. At the top of that range is her signature hat and coat set, a French beret with a matching Polartec fleece princess coat with Empire waist and soft pleats. The coat is usually a solid color with contrasting collar and cuffs - perhaps tweed, or a jungle print. Of course, you can customize that.

The boys' line is sweetly masculine with tailored precision.

Baby Nouveau clothing is not available in retail outlets, but there are three convenient ways to make purchases. The first is online (www.BabyNouveau.com). Stroud personally handles every inquiry and order. Many of her online customers are from other states and countries. Or, you can host a trunk show in your home. It is fun and private, and you will receive complimentary clothing for doing so. (Phone 817-8724 to arrange.)

Finally, you can visit Stroud's design studio at 21 W. Smith St. (just where Smith curves into West McGraw Place). Garments may be purchased off-the-rack or custom ordered. Stroud has a book of fabric swatches and pattern drawings, as well as a photo album of children modeling her line. Many of the photographs feature her own children, now ages 16 and 14.

Studio hours are Tuesday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment. Stroud's studio is located in what used to be a one-car garage beneath her home. The driveway pulls right up to new French doors. Look for a pistachio-green and black sandwich board during business hours.

To mark Baby Nouveau's grand opening on Queen Anne, there will be a sale April 17 to 19. Every item will be 20 percent off. That would be a great time to welcome Stroud to the neighborhood and check out her "timeless clothing with a contemporary edge."

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