Children, whether they are your own or you’re a doting relative, are fun to sew for. Children’s sewing patterns are cute and whimsical, and you can include fun details, like animal-shaped buttons, that might look a little out of place on an adult garment. They require less fabric and can be faster to whip up (which leaves us more time and money for more sewing projects!). But sewing for children also includes some unique challenges.
Here are some tips for sewing for children:
Keep measurements handy and update them often
Keep your child’s measurements handy. You’ll be able to take advantage of any pattern or fabric sales you happen upon, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration in not having to guess the inseam of the child you’re sewing for. Children’s sewing pattern company Oliver + S has an adorable (and free!) measurement card you can download and keep in your wallet. Just don’t forget to update it every few months!
Fabric selection is hugely important when sewing for children. In addition to finding a fabric that passes the child’s litmus test (Hint: fabric in the favorite color du jour will almost always be a hit), there are other factors to consider:
- One is washability. Kids are messy, and a garment that can’t simply be thrown in the washing machine isn’t likely to get much play.
- Wrinkles are another factor. Linen is certainly a popular fabric for warm weather garments, but even adults have a hard time not looking like a rumpled mess at the end of the day in linen. For a child, this could be impossible.
- If you are sewing sleepwear and are using a synthetic fabric, make sure it’s been approved for use in children’s sleepwear. If it hasn’t, it should say, “Not intended for sleepwear” on the edge of the bolt.
- Above all, comfort is the deciding factor. Children don’t tolerate itchy or scratchy fabrics. A good way to test the itchiness of a fabric is to rub it against the inside of your wrist. Most good quality knits and cottons should pass the test with flying colors.
Look for patterns that allow kids range of movement and to dress themselves. If you want the garment to potentially fit the child for a longer period of time, look for a pattern that makes use of knit fabric or one that's less fitted.
Be mindful of your choice of closures, especially for babies and small children. Buttons can pose a huge choking hazard. Even if they are sewn down securely, at some point they will become loose. Snaps are a good choice for this age group, particularly snap tape, which is factory-made and extra secure.
Add size tags
This is an especially good idea if you are hoping to pass on any handmade garments to younger siblings. It’s too easy to forget what size you made a garment in, and adding a tag takes the guesswork out of it. You can find size tags easily on Etsy, or you can make your own labels with twill tape, letter stamps and fabric ink.
Ready to whip up some children's clothing? Sign up for Kids Romper Revamp to learn more about measuring your child and how to adjust patterns for fit. Or, if your child loves to play dress-up, check out the super fun Craftsy class The Costume Box with Anne Weil.
Come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow to learn seven sewing tricks of the trade!