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Six tips for using your first sewing pattern. When I say sewing pattern, I am actually referring to patterns for clothing. Patterns for clothing are historically called dressmaking patterns. These days indie pattern makers in particular are referring to patterns for clothing as sewing patterns. I think probably because dressmaking patterns sounds as though the pattern will be for a dress. Dressmaking pattern is a term that really covers all types of clothing from shirts to shorts for men, ladies and kids.

I think it can seem a little daunting when you open your first dressmaking pattern, to find sheets or a booklet full of diagrams and instructions that don’t make any sense. I have put together a few tips that might be useful if you are about to embark on your first dressmaking pattern adventure. If you haven’t already bought a dressmaking pattern, this first tip might be one to consider.

Dressmaking pattern levels.

There is more dressmaking pattern variety than ever these days with lots of independent pattern makers (me included) now selling their patterns. There is also the big four commercial pattern making companies that have been around for decades. These are Simplicity, Vogue, Butterick and McCalls. Many dressmaking patterns particularly the big 4, grade their dressmaking patterns into levels of ease.

Naturally as a beginner you will be drawn to a pattern marked easy. However I think this can sometimes be a little misleading. I found these two patterns to illustrate my point. Both these dressmaking patterns are described as easy, this maybe be true of both patterns. However the dressmaking pattern on the right shows a fitted bodice, a waist seam and buttons and buttonholes. So though this might be quite easy to sew, unless you are a perfectly balanced size that fits with the dressmaking pattern size you may find you need to do at least some fitting to achieve a wearable dress. Where as the dressmaking pattern for a kimono on the left would require very little fitting and therefore be a much better choice for a first dressmaking pattern.

Fitting is very much a part of dressmaking. Many people take to dressmaking so that they can wear properly fitting clothing that they perhaps can’t buy in the shops. However by choosing a loose or unstructured shape you will put less pressure on yourself for your first dressmaking pattern experience. You will be able to focus on construction methods and understanding the pattern terminology.

Work with woven fabric if possible.

Unless you are on a mission to solely make stretch garments I think its best to start with woven. There are quite different rules for working with each type of fabric. Stretch can be much more forgiving on fit and often quite simple to make. However woven is an easier fabric to handle as it doesn’t stretch and curl in the same way jersey fabrics do.

Sizes.

The first thing to get to grips with is the size. Its best to disregard what you know your size to be for shop bought garments. Unfortunately dressmaking pattern sizes can be a bit cruel. They are often smaller than ready made shop sizes. There are usually two sets of measurements in a pattern. The first set are your actual body measurements. The second set are the garment measurements. The garment measurements will have ‘ease’ allowed, this is the extra amount added over and above the basic body measurements for movement and to create the style.

Start by measuring yourself to find the closest body size to yours. You can then check how the appropriate garment measurement feels by holding the tape measure at the size stated for the style and size you have chosen.  Depending on the style the three key points to measure are bust waist and hips.

Consider making a toile.

A toile is a mock up trial run of the dressmaking pattern. Also sometimes referred to as a muslin. A toile is made in cheap fabric such as calico, the handle and weight really needs to be similar to that of the fabric you intend to use for the real thing.  If you are focusing on stretch garments you would need to use a stretch fabric ideally something with the same amount of stretch. You can read about how to find the percentage of stretch here.  Making a toile gives you a practice run at everything.  You can test out all the construction methods and also see how it looks and fits. Testing the pattern out like this will help take the guess work out and avoid disappointment when you cut into your real fabric.

Look for essential information

When you open your pattern you will be faced with a sheet like the one above, these are typical of the Big 4 patterns. Indie patterns tend to have a booklet like this one from one of my patterns. These will hold all the information you need to make the garment. As you gain experience you will learn to bypass some of the info as your knowledge will give you the answers. Sit down with a cuppa and read through the information and instructions before you begin. This will give you an idea of whats ahead. It may seem a bit overwhelming with to much to retain. It may be worth making a small checklist of the essential information:

The suggested fabric type.

This can often be the make or break of a garment. The dressmaking pattern will give you ideas of suggested suitable fabric types. For example if you are making a drapey cowl neck top the pattern may suggest viscose for a nice drape. If you have chosen a crisp cotton you won’t achieve a good drape.

The seam allowance used in the pattern.

Using the correct seam allowance will ensure you arrive at the size you have decided on. Imagine taking a 1cm seam allowance on a eight panel dress that should have been a 1.5cm seam allowance.  The dress will become 8cm bigger!  Generally the seam allowance is 1.5cm/5/8″ but its worth checking.

How many pieces of each pattern piece.

This can be useful if you are struggling with the lay plan. Some pieces may say cut 1 on fold while others may say cut 4. It would be a shame to cut it all out only to discover you have one sleeve and no remaining fabric.

Take note and learn about the grain line.

The grain line is key to the way the garment hangs and how the pattern looks.

Work through the process.

As you begin to work through the instructions you might find stages that you don’t fully understand. Try and work through the process so that you can see how it will work. The sooner you can understand what the process is achieving the better. Lots of processes are repeated in many different styles so once you have the nuts and bolts in your repertoire you will speed things up for the next time you need that skill.

I hope you find some of these tips useful. Good luck with your first dressmaking pattern, it’s great to be able to make your own clothes.

The post 6 tips for using your first sewing pattern. appeared first on Bobbins & Buttons.

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Bobbins & Buttons by Julia Claridge - 2w ago

A flat fell seam is the seam you often find on the inside leg seam of a pair of jeans. It has two rows of visible stitching on the outside and on the inside all the raw edges are encased, making it a neat and super strong seam. It is one of those style details that has become synonymous with denim. The iconic double row of orange toned stitching is often found on ready made denim jeans and jackets.

You can add a flat fell seam to your own handmade jeans, jackets or any other style you like. I have made a hot pink denim Mary dress to show the stages for this tutorial. I used matching standard thread. You could also make more of a statement by using contrast colour threads, decorative or topstitch threads.

You might like to sew some of the seams like this but not all of them, it works best on straight seams, you could turn corners but it would be pretty tricky. It is also worth taking into consideration the seam allowance and type of fabric you are using. Seam allowances less than 1.5cm will be very fiddly and tricky to achieve nice flat fell seam results. Likewise if your fabric frays a lot or has a soft floaty handle you may find this quite difficult.

For this dress I stitched flat fell seams down the centre back and both side seams.

  1. The flat fell seam begins with wrong sides together. Stitch the full seam allowance together with wrong sides matched.

2. Trim one side of the seam allowance down to approximately half the width. The more accurate you can be with your trimming the better, it will help with the next steps.

3. Press the larger seam allowance over the trimmed seam allowance so that you have a nice flat seam.

4. We now need to turn the raw edge of the wider side seam. This little trick can be helpful if your trimming in step 2 was pretty accurate. Fold the panel so that the seam is on the edge. You can then turn the raw edge in using the edge of the small raw edge as a guide. Press as you go.

5. Open the work back out and press again to keep the seam as flat as possible. Pin the folded edge down.

6. Stitch close to the folded edge approximately 1-2mm away from the folded edge.

This is the reverse side of the seam. All raw edges neatly hidden away!

The post How to sew a flat fell seam. appeared first on Bobbins & Buttons.

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I’m very excited to announce the latest Bobbins and Buttons dressmaking pattern. A girl’s sleeveless dress pattern. Which is now available to buy in both paper and pdf versions.

Dorothy is a pattern for girls aged between 1 and 12 years old. A versatile classic dress style. The bodice is sleeveless with a round neck and lined for a simple neat finish. The skirt is gathered onto the bodice which fastens with a zip at the back. A wide sash adds the final flourish to the style.

Tummy sizes can vary a fair bit so the dress is designed to be a little bit fuller at the waist. The sash fits across the front with seams matching at the side. The sash can be pulled in at the back to make the style fit snuggly at the waist. It can also be let out just after lunch if needed!!

This adjustable sash means the dress potentially has a bit of extra growing room depending on how quickly the little girl grows upwards.

This dress is a perfect style to make in quilters weight cotton or cotton lawn for an easy summer style. The choice of cotton prints is huge, catering for every girls taste. You could go quirky and on trend with flamingo or pineapple prints. Classic and pretty with vintage florals or follow a theme with licenced or novelty prints like My Little Pony or Avengers. It would also make a lovely party or special occasion dress made in more dressy fabrics like satin or lace.

I have properly tried and tested this pattern over the years for my little girl who has had lots of different versions for parties as well as versions in novelty fabrics for special events. It remains a firm favourite with both of us. Over the coming months I will be sharing a few adaptations here on my blog to help make the most of this pattern.

Bobbins and Buttons online shop is also full to bursting with possibilities fabric wise for Dorothy. There are really way to many options to mention but here are a few ideas.  Pretty blue and teal florals from Liberty and Art Gallery. These would look lovely fresh and summery as this girls sleeveless dress with the addition of a white sash.

For an extra special summer treat the Liberty garden range contains twenty three coordinating prints, ditsy florals to wild flowers that mix and match perfectly. The bodice could be a contrast to the skirt or chose a simple coordinate for the sash.

Art Gallery florals that mix with plain Kona cotton and or more simple blender prints.

As well as bright prints from fruity to tropical!

I would love to see your versions, if you fancy sharing on social media use #releaseyourhandmade so I can find you. I hope you have fun making your Dorothy dresses and the wearers enjoy wearing them.

The post Introducing Dorothy – The latest Bobbins and Buttons dressmaking pattern release. appeared first on Bobbins & Buttons.

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Bobbins & Buttons by Julia Claridge - 1M ago

This is not only a really simple make, very suitable for anyone new to sewing but it is also a super practical make for babies and makes a perfect gift.

When my kids were babies they had lots of these, my first design was a bit more shaped around the neck but I discovered a simple triangle was perfectly effective. I loved using all the fun printed cottons that were available to make these bibs for my babies. It was fun making special occasion versions and coordinating ones for special outfits as well as whipping them up from left over pieces of fabric.

Materials:

Piece of woven cotton (quilters weight is perfect) 45cm x 30cm. I used Liberty cotton for this example.

Piece of sweatshirt fabric or other soft, thick absorbent fabric 45cm x 30cm. I used cotton sweatshirt fabric.

Popper or snap fastener.

Pattern:

Click the link to download the diagram, this shows the dimensions. You can draw this directly on to the fabric or make a paper pattern first if you prefer.

From the fold draw a line at right angles from the foldline following the measurements on the diagram. Mark a point vertically from this line on the fold and join the two points. These measurements include the seam allowance.

bib pattern

How to make:

  1. Cut one triangle out of each of the fabrics.

2. With right sides together pin around the edges. You will need to leave a gap in one seam for turning through. I generally leave the opening in the upper long edge, I have marked it here with two vertical pins.

3. Stitch using a 1.5cm seam allowance around the edges starting at one vertical pin, pivoting at the corners and finishing at the second vertical pin. Trim the seam to approximately 1cm. Trim away a little closer at the points to enable you to get better corners when you turn through. Be careful not to trim to close though.

4. Turn through to the right side and press, pushing the open seam inside in line with the stitched seam. To get nice points at the corners you can either gently push a blunt pencil, chop stick or similar object into the corners or tease the corners out from the outside with a pin.

5. Slip stitch the gap closed by hand.

6. Stitch one half of a popper on one corner of the long edge and the other half on the opposite side at the other corner of the long edge. Alternatively you can use hammer in snap fasteners.

Bib complete and ready to use, wash and use and wash and use again and again!

I just want to say a big thank you to Megan for being such a lovely model, she is so adorable I couldn’t resist sharing these extra photos!

The post A simple baby bib tutorial. appeared first on Bobbins & Buttons.

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I’ve just launched my third dressmaking pattern, a little girls sleeveless dress with a gathered skirt, that zips at the back. Zips are one of those things that people sometimes prefer to avoid because they seem a bit tricky, however with a little bit of know how and a few simple tricks there is no need to fear applying a zip.

A lapped zip is a neat application.  The fabric of one side of the seam is folded so that it covers the zips teeth. Its a versatile application that can be used at the back or side of dresses as well as for trousers, skirts and cushions.

Its best to use a standard dress zip with plastic teeth when applying a lapped zip. Not to be confused with invisible dress zips. A standard dress zip will have the teeth proud at the front of the zip, where an invisible zip will have the teeth set at the back of the zip.

Application can vary depending on the style, side zips in dresses will be inserted mid seam, where as centre back zips will usually finish at the upper back neck open edge. In this tutorial I am going to show you how to insert a lapped zip into the centre back of a lined dress. However most of the process is the same whether you are applying with a facing or applying mid seam.

The key to making this a manageable job with a good result is partly the way you press the seams at the beginning of the process. In this example the dress is made to the point where the zip needs to be inserted.

The seam allowance on this dress is 1.5cm. With the dress turned inside out press the left hand seam (left hand side as you look at the dress) approximately 1.2cm in. Press the right hand side 1.8cm. This doesn’t have to be exact, basically one side needs to be a little under the seam allowance and the other a little over. However the turnings do need to be as even as possible. The more accurate you can be the easier the following stages will be.

The narrower side helps the zip sit back a little and allows you the extra tiny (but just enough) bit to be added to the other side of the seam allowance for covering the zip teeth on the opposite side and giving you extra confidence that you will catch the seam. Hopefully if this sounds confusing it will make more sense by the end of the  post.

Prepare your sewing machine by attaching the zip foot attachment. There are two different types your machine might have. The foot on the left has a slider so that you can move the foot across to the left or right depending on which side of the zip you are sewing. These often come with older machines. The up side of this foot is you can control how close you get to the zip teeth, (however this is more relevant when applying an invisible zip). The downside is you can hit the foot with the needle if you have set it a bit to close to the needle. The foot on the right clips on or off to the left or the right at a predetermined distance from the needle, avoiding any accidental needle breakage.

The purpose of both is to allow you to sew close to the zip teeth. If you were to try and sew a zip in with a standard foot you would not be able to get close enough to the zip teeth.

Turn the dress to the right side. Matching the pressed edge on the right hand side (narrower side) to the zip teeth. This should be butted up to the teeth, not set back exposing any zip tape and not overlapping the teeth even a tiny bit. Pin in place. If your zip is longer than the opening don’t worry, just let it extend beyond the neck edge. Make sure the end of the zip is lined up with the end of the opening.

You might like to tack the zip in place before you start sewing. With the foot set so the needle is close to the teeth stitch from the base to the neck edge. The stitch line should be approximately 1-2mm in from the folded edge.

Take the left hand folded edge and bring it over the zip teeth matching the folded edge to just literally 1 mm over the stitch line you have just created. This is the trickier side as you are largely working by feel. Pin the dress to the un-stitched side of the zip tape. Take care that any waist or other style lines and neck edges are matched up.

This side is well worth tacking especially if you have a fairly long zip like a dress zip. Tack the dress to the zip tape, feeling for the teeth. I always take care to tack along the very edge of the teeth giving a good guide line to follow when stitching, you can also check all seams are lined up nicely at this point before sewing.

Change the foot to the opposite side, starting at the base of the zip, stitch across the base of the zip from the seam out and reverse a few stitches to make this strong, pivot and stitch up the zip. Take care to stitch to just about 1/2-1mm away from the tacking stitch (towards side of the dress). This will mean you avoid sewing into the teeth but remain close enough to the zip teeth. If your zip is much longer than the dress you can keep the puller at the top of the zip and stitch the whole length easily. If your zip is an exact measurement you will find it creates a difficult lump if you try and sew past the puller. To avoid this when you are a about 10cm away from the top, stop, with the needle still in the work, lift the foot and pull the zip down to the part of the zip you have already stitched, continue to sew the last few centimetres.

Check the stitching is close to the teeth and that the seam is caught behind the zip tape. Press the seam allowance of the lining in along the zip edges and slip stitch along the zip insertion stitch lines.

The post How to insert a lapped zip – tutorial. appeared first on Bobbins & Buttons.

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As always before launching a new dressmaking pattern I like to have it tested to check for any mistakes and also check to see if anything could change to improve it in anyway. Luckily I have a fantastic group of testers who most of which have now tested my third pattern. They always give me great feedback, always very polite but honest! This is perfect for ensuring I deliver the best product I can. I always look forward with slight trepidation to seeing the results and hearing how they got on. So far I have made a few changes to pattern instructions based on their feedback before going live, however never anything too drastic. Its lovely to see how they interpret the pattern and see it made in different sizes too.

The latest pattern is Dorothy, a girls sleeveless dress with a gathered skirt, finished with a sash at the waistline.

Abi’s young model is looking just the cutest in this fun rabbit print dress. Abi reported needing to chose a different age size based on the measurements, which I think is quite common with kids as their sizes can vary massively.

I think the results are truly adorable and the dress looks like a perfect fit.

At the other end of the age scale Karen made this gorgeous version for her young model, she described it as “the perfect dress for a sunny weekend”.

I love the way she has mixed two simple prints for this dress.

The bodice is fully lined giving a very neat internal finish.

I’m loving the attitude from Debbie’s young model. Debbie chose to make her sash in matching fabric, a good idea especially if you are struggling to find a coordinate that works with the main fabric.

I think she is looking pretty happy with her new dress!

Emma’s model was reported as saying “I don’t like it …I love it!” Lets face it children are THE most honest people around, so I think this is the perfect comment and compliment to Emma’s lovely version!

I love these colours the clean orange band picking out the colours from the flowers in the print looks so good.

Lastly but by no means least, I think Shelia’s model is looking wonderful in this stunning blue swallow print version.

Shelia opted to leave the belt off, which still works really well and keeps things nice and simple.

There is some serious swishing going on here, I think that is another nod of approval.

A big thank you to all my testers, all comments and feedback taken on board and the final draft is now published and ready to go. You can buy Dorothy in pdf format or in paper format. I would love to see your versions, if you feel like sharing on social media use #releaseyourhandmade so I can find you.

The post Testing the new Dorothy pattern. appeared first on Bobbins & Buttons.

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I’m very excited to announce the latest Bobbins and Buttons dressmaking pattern. Which is now available to buy in both paper and pdf versions.

Dorothy is a pattern for girls aged between 1 and 12 years old. A versatile classic dress style. The bodice is sleeveless with a round neck and lined for a simple neat finish. The skirt is gathered onto the bodice which fastens with a zip at the back. A wide sash adds the final flourish to the style.

Tummy sizes can vary a fair bit so the dress is designed to be a little bit fuller at the waist. The sash fits across the front with seams matching at the side. The sash can be pulled in at the back to make the style fit snuggly at the waist. It can also be let out just after lunch if needed!!

This adjustable sash means the dress potentially has a bit of extra growing room depending on how quickly the little girl grows upwards.

This dress is a perfect style to make in quilters weight cotton or cotton lawn for an easy summer style. The choice of cotton prints is huge, catering for every girls taste. You could go quirky and on trend with flamingo or pineapple prints. Classic and pretty with vintage florals or follow a theme with licenced or novelty prints like My Little Pony or Avengers. It would also make a lovely party or special occasion dress made in more dressy fabrics like satin or lace.

I have properly tried and tested this pattern over the years for my little girl who has had lots of different versions for parties as well as versions in novelty fabrics for special events. It remains a firm favourite with both of us. Over the coming months I will be sharing a few adaptations here on my blog to help make the most of this pattern.

Bobbins and Buttons online shop is also full to bursting with possibilities fabric wise for Dorothy. There are really way to many options to mention but here are a few ideas.  Pretty blue and teal florals from Liberty and Art Gallery. These would look lovely fresh and summery with the addition of a white sash.

For an extra special summer treat the Liberty garden range contains twenty three coordinating prints, ditsy florals to wild flowers that mix and match perfectly. The bodice could be a contrast to the skirt or chose a simple coordinate for the sash.

Art Gallery florals that mix with plain Kona cotton and or more simple blender prints.

As well as bright prints from fruity to tropical!

I would love to see your versions, if you fancy sharing on social media use #releaseyourhandmade so I can find you. I hope you have fun making your Dorothy dresses and the wearers enjoy wearing them.

The post Introducing Dorothy – The latest Bobbins and Buttons dressmaking pattern release. appeared first on Bobbins & Buttons.

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Here is another new project that is available for you to make at any of my sewing classes. A versatile jersey t-shirt shape. I have made two different versions here to show different ways of using the pattern. This first version is made in soft drapey viscose elastane jersey. Using the stripe to create a diagonal stripe pattern by adding a centre front seam. The second is made in t-shirt weight cotton/elastane creating a more traditional casual t-shirt with the addition of a turn back cuff detail. This is a great introduction to making jersey garments. It can be made using an overlocker or a regular sewing machine.

The pattern is available to make in ladies sizes 8 – 18

The finished length from side neck to hem is 70cm

Materials:

Fabric width 150cm/60″

1.20m sizes 8-14

1.60m sizes  16-18

For pattern matching or to create a chevron effect you will need a bit extra fabric.

The style has a grown on sleeve so there is no setting sleeves in, the focus of this project is really sewing with jersey fabrics and adding a neckband.

The trickiest bit of the style is the neckband. Its worth getting to grips with how to attach a neckband, its a useful technique for all sorts of jersey styles and can sometimes save a neckline on a jersey style that has been stretched or isn’t working.

The hems can be finished in various ways including using a twin needle. As part of the project we can look at different options and when to use them.

This version has no centre front seam and is made in cotton elastane jersey. The fit of the shape is relaxed making it easy to wear.

There is the option of adding a turn back cuff detail for this casual version, which works best in fabric with a little more body.

The hem is shaped but can be cut straight if preferred. A useful addition to your wardrobe with lots of staple jersey garment making skills.

The post Projects – Easy stretch t-shirt appeared first on Bobbins & Buttons.

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This is a project I created several years ago in response to being asked for an adult version of the Little girls Rosie dress pattern. I had partly forgotten about it until I rediscovered a version I made for myself.  I have the pattern drafted in sizes 8 – 16 which is available to use at any of my sewing sessions.

Like the Rosie dress it can be made single sided or reversible. For this version I used the reversible pattern substituting the reverse fabric for lining, this works really well if like me you prefer dresses lined. I made this dress in heavyweight charcoal linen, it would also work nicely in cotton, cotton blends, needlecord and medium and lighter weight denims.

This is a great project if you are just starting out with making your own clothes. There is no tricky fitting with this style, there are bust darts which provides useful practice as you are bound to come across darts before to long when making clothes.

Materials:

Based on a finished dress length of 98cm from shoulder to hem.

Single sided:

Fabric width 1.12m/44″ – 2.20m all sizes

Fabric width 1.50m/60″ – 1.60m all sizes

2 x 30mm buttons

Reversible:

Fabric width 1.12m/44″ – 2.20m all sizes x 2 fabrics (one fabric can be lining)

Fabric width 1.50m/60″ – 1.20m all sizes x 2 fabrics (one fabric can be lining)

4 x 30mm buttons

If you have a one way print or need to do pattern matching you may need a bit more fabric.

I love dresses like this for everyday wear, its perfect to move about in as well as super comfy. I like to have pockets in everyday clothing, they are so useful especially when teaching or generally being a mum. For me I love supersized big deep pockets like these. However they are optional, the dress can be made with or without pockets.

You might even like to draft your own pockets for it. This could be part of your class and making process. There are other pocket styles you could have such as in-seam hidden pockets or patch pockets applied away from the seam. Pockets can be all shapes and sizes and a fun thing to draft.

The dress is just like the girls version, it has no zip or tricky fastenings, it pulls on over your head and fastens with nice big buttons at the shoulder.

I finished this one with a deep machine hem. As part of the class we can look at alternate ways to finish hems based on the type of fabric and the look you want.

The post Projects – Ladies easy pull on button shoulder pinafore dress. appeared first on Bobbins & Buttons.

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Measuring up before starting to make a garment is one of those tasks that can sometimes gets ignored, its tempting to just get stuck into sewing, picking a size closest to what you buy off the peg from the shops. However just like sizes vary from shop to shop, sizes also vary between pattern brands. On the whole dressmaking patterns are generally one to two sizes smaller than some shop bought sizes in ladies clothing. Independent pattern makers tend to have a more realistic sizing strategy for the modern day figure than the long standing commercial brands. Most patterns will give you a size chart with bust, waist and hip measurements and usually actual garment measurements too. It really is worth studying the sizing and measuring yourself before you embark on your project. The same goes for making children’s clothing, in fact there is a bit more to take into consideration with children’s clothing because we also need to consider height. Most adult patterns will be sized for the same average height person and will require you to shorten or lengthen for shorter or taller people, however the natural growth of a child will be build into a child’s pattern.

In this post I want to share some tips for how to measure your child for making clothing. If you are a mum you are probably aware if your child is small or large (based on an average) for their age. This is an important consideration to start with because they are unlikely to slot perfectly into the size chart provided with the pattern. Just like when you are shopping you may find in one store your 6 year old child fits well into an age 6 size but needs an age 8 in another store. I am the mum to an eight year old that measures up as a seven year old on the size chart I use to create my sewing patterns and a six year old that measures up as an eight year old. Children do vary greatly in size.

The height of a child is a really important factor, if you look at the pattern size chart for example on my latest pattern release Mary you will notice there is only a difference of 2 cm on the chest width and pattern width of each size between ages 12 months and 7 years, thats only 0.5cm on each side seam. However the length increases by on average 3cm each size.

The other factor to consider when making children’s clothing is that they grow! If your child falls between two sizes or you are making a garment that they can hopefully get a lot of wear from I always recommend sizing up. Especially between the ages of 3 months and 3 years. The growth can be quite rapid in this time period. If you have finished a dress and its a bit big the changes are in 6 months it will fit perfectly. However if you are creating an outfit for a special occasions such as for a wedding you will need to get the fit accurate.

Lets get down to the nitty gritty of measuring a child. This can be a bit tricky if they are very little or not in the mood! It might work to turn the task into a game of statues or offer a little treat at the end….though this doesn’t always work, you can watch the progression of grumpiness as my little girl gets measured for these photos, despite the promise of a treat at the end!!

These measurements are the ones you need to check against the size chart marked ‘body measurements’ on your pattern, not to be confused with garment measurements. The body measurements will be the size of person the pattern designer has used to create the style for, measured in the same way as I am showing here. The garment measurements will have ‘ease’ appropriate to the style so will be a fair bit bigger than the actual body measurements depending on style.

It is best to measure your child either in their underwear or wearing close fitting garments. Measurements should be taken with the tape measure fitting snuggly to the body but not pulled restrictively tight.

Finding the natual waist on a child can be a bit difficult as generally they don’t have much defined shaping at the waist. The best way to find it is to tie a ribbon or piece of string around their tummy and let them wander around and bend wearing it. It should settle at their natural waistline.

You can then take the measurement around the waistline over the ribbon. Make sure the tape is not twisted and is in a straight horizontal line around the body.

While they have the ribbon in the right position take a back neck to waist measurement. This is from the base of the neck, feel for the knobby bone at this point and measure in a straight line from here to the ribbon at the waist.

It may also be useful to have a measurement from the base of the neck to the floor, this would be needed for full length dresses, or any other full length styles.

The chest measurement should be taken around the widest part of the child’s chest, this is roughly in line with the child’s nipples. Again ensure the tape measure is wrapped around the body untwisted and in a straight line.

This is an example to show the tape measure incorrectly positioned, the tape is dropped to low at the back, this sometimes happens when you wrap the tape around so its best to check at the back or from the side that the tape is in the right place before noting down the measurement.

The hip measurement should be taken from the widest part of the hips.

To measure the arm place the tape measure at the shoulder joint, with the child’s arm bent and rested on their hip measure from shoulder joint to the wrist.

This is not a forced smile in anyway!! Lastly …can you feel her pain? The child’s height, children’s height measurement is usually measured from the top of the head to the floor. An easy way to do this is to ask the child to stand against the wall, you could either place a chalk mark on the wall or simply hold your hand at the top of their head.

Measure from this mark to the floor for the height measurement. Then you can release the child from this agonising experience!

Check the measurements against the size chart on the pattern, you may need to make some amendments to the pattern depending on how the measurements fit into the chart and depending on the style.  Its worth considering things like movement and how the child will get into..

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