Friday, May 29, 2009

Sewing toddler clothes for Esme again

Most of the patterns I make now I get on Ebay or at the thrift store. Some of them are older than I am - but if all the pieces are there then I can work with it. Some have summer and winter versions in the same pattern (dresses that can be long sleeved or shorts and pants). It really is possible and affordable to make your own toddler clothes! It does take time though, these 'easy 1 hour' usually take longer than that. Also, use recycled old clothing and cheaper 'clearance' rack cloth as you start out so you have the willingness to scrap a project or two along the way and start over. Mistakes are learning opportunities. When you are sure of yourself then spend a little more on the fabric to get character designs etc... Also it's never a bad idea to take a size larger for a children's pattern.. but a size smaller may end up in a garment that doesn't fit by the time you finish it!

In this case (33 months old) a modern pattern was used but the sizing chart showed her measurements as a size 1!

A size 4 vintage dress pattern seems to fit her well at 39 months.

She fit size 3 vintage patterns for more than a year, much longer than she fit size 2 patterns.. always check the 'inches' measurements. Now at 3.3 years she is 'ok' in a size 4 with a size 3 being iffy depending on the cut of the arms. I really don't think kids are that much larger than they used to be... she looks normal three-year-old size to me!

My lens on vintage patterns

March, 2010

In contrast, this was a vintage size '4' when she was smaller. I purposefully made it with some room to grow in. This dress still fits her now. Sometimes I also take pictures of her in the dress after it is made to 'analyze' later and decide what might need to be changed about the pattern. The light blue dress with long sleeves above was one of those - and five more were made similar until I got a great working pattern. Of course... she could grow out of them before long but I count it all as a learning experience.

Link: step by step directions on how to construct a dress

Link: pictures of how to finish facings

I started out making her clothes when she was 5 months old - and have improved greatly since. Now I make about half of her clothes, and the other half are garage-sale or clearance rack. She really loves to pick out her own fabrics for the handmade clothes, and to watch me sew.

Buttonholes and zippers were something I avoided for a long time - but have now mastered by hand since my machine is tough to work with on those regards. I found it best to work a few patterns the size she was - to perfect my technique, then start working on similar patterns one size up because she will grow into it.

I really prefer older pattern from the 1970s.

1971 pattern that has short and long sleeved tops and pants.

The designs were simpler and more practical. Some recent patterns that don't cost a lot have simply drawn instructions but depend upon a lot of notions, elastic or specific fabrics. They often care more about the 'look' than the practicality of putting the child into the clothes - or washing them. A pretty dress is not worth a thing if your child's arms can't fit into it easily, and they cry every time you try to get it on/off.

homemade shirt and pants for toddler
the shirt pattern was 'combined' from two patterns
one was raglan sleeve but not the right size.

You might need to try quite a few times to get something 'just right' - a shirt that buckles at the neck, like this:

might need to have the neckline on the pattern cut a bit deeper, and then try again. I took seven tries on this raglan sleeve pattern until I got it 'useable' and still have trouble with some of the thicker fabrics on the neckline, mostly when she raises her arms like this... but she can still wear them and they still look cute and wash well.

Original post:
As it gets closer to real hot weather and Esme gets closer to growing into size 2 clothes and out of size 18 months I've made some time to try sewing again. I was complaining just the other day I haven't been crafting much - so hopefully this breaks that streak.

Here is a little jumper I made today after work. The pattern was three dollars and Esme had grown out of the old pattern (plus I lost some pieces). I had made her some stripey pants last night that are already in the wash.

Esme definitely knows what a phone is for (has for a while) but this is the first time I've given her a 'real' phone in months. Usually she tries to call people on her blocks or a ring toy she has. She was wandering around Grandpa and Grandma's house yammering and carrying on a conversation with thin air.

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