Do You Sew Clothing for Children?

Sewing clothes for kids is tough, I imagine, as what a child loves and will wear one minute can fall out of favor the next. I'm about to start sewing a few pairs of stretchy pants for my 2 1/2 -year-old niece, and I'm slightly scared she won't like them. 

Fabric for stretchy kid pants.

To combat that, I picked out some fun fabrics: bright swirls, polka dots, and multi-colored lizards. Sewing multiple pairs of pants for a pint-sized child won't take me much time at all, which is good. If she absolutely detests the pants, it won't be days of work down the drain.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a quilter who's just getting started learning garment sewing. I'm excited for the challenge, and that I have a small child at my disposal to sew clothes for.

Hopefully, I won't be known to my niece later in life as the aunt who got a kick out of sewing her a ton of heinous clothes. I'll try to stop sewing for her before her teen years are here.

At some point, I hope to graduate from making easy sewing projects for kids (like simple stretch pants) to tunics or dresses for my niece . I even have plans to make an easy dress for myself—I just need to find the time (post-holidays).

If you've got a little girl you like to sew dresses for, there are some beautiful patterns in Perfect Party Dresses, fitting for important life occasions or celebrations.

Do you sew clothes for kids? What do you like or dislike about the process? Are your garments met with a smile? I can't wait to hear.  

 

 

Other sewing topics you may enjoy:

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For Children & Baby
Abby Kaufman

About Abby Kaufman

Abby Kaufman is assistant editor of Stitch magazine. When she's not scoping out new fabrics for her collection, Abby enjoys outdoor activities, and spending time with her husband and two dogs. 

32 thoughts on “Do You Sew Clothing for Children?

  1. I enjoy sewing for children more that for myself because fit is not as complicated. I sewed quite a lot for our son when he was a preschooler and have made clothes for friends’ children as well as family. Children’s clothing makes up so much faster and makes it possible to adjust for taller, slimmer children such as our grandson. Children’s clothes are finished faster so there’s the satisfaction of having completed something sooner. Plus I was able to make more from less material. I used my husband’s old pants and had ready made seams and hems for some of the things I made. It was very helpful since we didn’t have much money. Now it’s just fun to see what I can make.
    Jan Salotti

  2. I have found that there are two “embellishments” that are almost always a hit with little children.

    They love animal appliques! Ducks, elephants, monkeys, pandas, penguins – whether you cut themselves out yourself or buy them in the store, kids are almost invariably delighted with them.

    If you can make them three-dimensional, so much the better. A pom pom for a bunny’s tail or a little piece of pink fabric for a puppy’s tongue makes an ordinary outfit irresistble for a toddler.

    They also like pockets: pockets to carry things; pockets to put their hands in; pockets to hide little items of contraband like candy.

    Fortunately, both appliques and pockets are easy to add to just about any pattern, and they don’t require sophisticated sewing skills.

  3. I have two grandsons, 5 months and 14 months old, and it’s really not so easy to find interesting patterns for boys, so I’ve been buying vintage patterns online They are so much fun, retro and cool, and my daughters love to dress their little boys in whatever I make. My most recently completed project was a great, old Burda pattern, a shirt that was completely tailored like a grown-up shirt, complete with cuffs, pockets, and a collar stand. Today, I’m working on some old-fashioned pajamas that have a top and pants that button together. My next adventure will be a shirt and pants with a 1940s Advance pattern, the kind that has no printing, just pre-cut, shaped pattern pieces with perforations to indicate markings. That one will be a real challenge.

  4. I enjoy sewing for kids a lot. What frustrates me the most about the process is getting nervous when I have to adjust the pattern. I am not very confident when it comes to making changes. So far, so good though.

  5. I always enjoyed sewing for my children and now have 2 grandchildren, ages 1 and 3. I have rebought the Sunrise Design patterns second hand as they fit so well and have many separates in 1 envelope. My best success is to make something with an applique specific to a holiday such as a turkey using ric- rac or ribbon for the feathers or Christmas designs. Looking on-line at the stores selling kid’s clothes provides lots of ideas for keeping up with fashions, colors and fit since many will give garment measurements.

  6. My granddaughters are 2 1/2 and 2 mos. The 2 1/2 year old loves animal prints and princesses. I made her a jumper out of an owl print corduroy last year and she loved it. In my stash, I have Dora Explorer and Tinker Bell corduroy, but more recently her parents tell me she is into ‘soft clothes’ which means double knits or interlock knits. Those are certainly more expensive but I have found some great soft remnants in cute prints and have made her 3 summer dresses. She is also into ruffled skirts. I made her a Tinker Bell Halloween costume and several sheer tutus and a petal skirt which she wears all the time. Next will be some long or elbow sleeved knit dresses.

  7. My advice? Resist the impulse. The lady who made Ralphie’s bunny pajamas is long gone, but those pajamas are immortal. If you absolutely must make clothing, buy her an American Girl doll and put it away for later. Make a wardrobe for it. Give it to her when she’s 7 or so. In the meantime, use the money you would have paid for nice fabric and buy her Disney outfits, or Justice when she’s a little older. You’ll be her favorite aunt. I have three grandchildren. I’ve made them all multiple treasured quilts, but never clothes. I let them pick them out at a store. 😉

  8. My advice? Resist the impulse. The lady who made Ralphie’s bunny pajamas is long gone, but those pajamas are immortal. If you absolutely must make clothing, buy her an American Girl doll and put it away for later. Make a wardrobe for it. Give it to her when she’s 7 or so. In the meantime, use the money you would have paid for nice fabric and buy her Disney outfits, or Justice when she’s a little older. You’ll be her favorite aunt. I have three grandchildren. I’ve made them all multiple treasured quilts, but never clothes. I let them pick them out at a store. 😉

  9. Sewing dresses for little girls has always been my favorite sewing projects. I have saved swatches of many of the special fabrics I used to sew garments for my now 40+ year old daughter. I am now in the process of using them to make her a fusion pillow and/or quilt (a fusion of quilting and crochet) from these swatches. I know she will recognize some of the fabrics from long ago. Hope it brings back some happy memories.

  10. Hi! Last year I made flannel nightgowns for my 6 year old niece and her American girl doll as well as matching aprons. It was a hit! Very little in the way of sizing and it didn’t matter if it was slightly big. This year I’m going with Monster hand warmers to microwave before they get into a car on cold nights.

  11. I have been sewing for over 40 years. My 2 kids (all grown up now) did not wear store bought clothes unless they were bought by others because I made all their clothes. Now I sew for my 5 grandchildren. My daughter has 2 year old twin girls and 10 year old twins, boy and girl and a 14 year old. I enjoy sewing for all of them. My pet peeve is only that when making stretchy slacks for the 2 year old, I find sometimes it is difficult to machine hem the bottom of the slacks because the girls have such teeny weeny legs. LOL But I always manage to do so.

  12. I have been sewing for over 40 years. My 2 kids (all grown up now) did not wear store bought clothes unless they were bought by others because I made all their clothes. Now I sew for my 5 grandchildren. My daughter has 2 year old twin girls and 10 year old twins, boy and girl and a 14 year old. I enjoy sewing for all of them. My pet peeve is only that when making stretchy slacks for the 2 year old, I find sometimes it is difficult to machine hem the bottom of the slacks because the girls have such teeny weeny legs. LOL But I always manage to do so.

  13. I LOVE sewing for kids and babies! My daughter recently had a boy (my first – I have step girls who are grown into teens and still love clothes I make them) and because she wanted him only in organic clothes, I started buying hundreds of dollars of organic knits and cottons. She also is using cloth diapers so I’ve had to alter the onesies and pants to accomodate the huge diapers but he looks so cute in the clothes because when you make your own things, you can put solid sleeves on a printed body and it looks like they are wearing a vest-so dapper! I’ve also come up with some other clever ideas for helping with dressing babies that I am going to sell to her local support store. I am so excited to be making boy clothes and as others mentioned oliver+s are great-the cargo pants came out so cute I couldn’t stop laughing! Butterick makes cute shirt and pant patterns also. I could go on and on because I am having so much fun.

  14. Abby, I started sewing dresses for my baby girl when she was about a year old. She is 31 years old now and I just sewed the dresses for all the bridesmaids at her wedding. I won’t say they were the easiest thing I ever did, but they were really pretty on the girls. I started out making little frocks for school when she was in Kindergarten and kept at it through prom gowns and graduation. Along the way, made a few shirts and even a suit for my son as didn’t want to leave him out. I still make clothes when she asks for things, but it’s harder to find good fabric stores these days. My son brings me sewing projects too, usually patches for his jeans. I am looking forward to things for the grandkids now. I am already pretty good at Halloween costumes!

  15. I started sewing for myself in junior high and even made my wedding gown 10 years later. When my daughter was born I started sewing for her and I swear she was the best dressed little girl in town. That started a chain reaction with my niece who got the hand-me-downs…they both loved the one-of-a-kind concept. Fast forward to prom dresses and a wedding gown. I’ve loved every minute

  16. I have great niece that I sew clothes for. She is 9 years old and, so far, just loves everything I make for her. It makes it all worthwhle when what I make is so appreciated. Her mom put all the outgrown items in a plastic container so she can look back over the years to see what all I made for her.

  17. I love sewing for children and have done this extensively for decades. I don’t think there ever was a pattern I couldn’t make. I particularly love creating my own twist to a pattern to suit the child. But then, I am a dressmaker primarily and have just become a quilter over the last six years or so. Then there are the little girls who ask if I can make their dolls the same dresses. Nothing makes me smile more than seeing pictures of the two and the love that emanates. Then as the years go by, these children pass these dresses on to their own children. It is a timeless art.

  18. I love sewing for nephews/nieces/grandchildren/friends’ kiddies. they are all very small still and whatever I make is produced really quickly. in fact, I often make half a dozen T-shirts or shorts or pants all in one hit. I knit too, with the same outcome. I keep what fabric is left over (I do tend to buy more than I need for one project) and often find there is enough to make something for a smaller child. I even had enough of one fabric to make a winter coat for my (now-deceased) miniature long-haired dachshund! being creative is so, so relaxing and satisfying. when I see what I made being worn by the child it gives a warm glow inside me. Muriel Cubley – a Grey Nomad travelling around Australia

  19. patternrevolution.com is a great resource for reviews of patterns of all kinds. Since you are new to sewing for children it might help you along your way. I make my daughters clothing and she loves it when she has something new to wear. There are so many awesome patterns out there!!!!! My favorite all time is Brownie Goose’s Millie dress. Sooo cute!!!!

    JaNette

  20. I have two grandsons, 5 1/2 and 3, and they grow so fast that it’s hard to keep up! Also, I am (sadly) a long-distance Nana so it is hard to know what they need or how things fit. I too am a quilter, and I have discovered that I really don’t like working in other types of fabrics. My favorite pattern is for Bowling Shirts, by Scientific Seamstress. I use quilting cottons for them; sometimes I piece the sections; other times I make it look like a “regular” shirt with no obvious sections. So far, the boys have liked what I’ve made (though it sure was easier when they were babies! I only had to please their Mom!), and they love to wear coordinating shirts.

  21. I have three grand children one teenage girl one two year old son and two year old granddaughter I’ve sewn for all three my youngest gd I’ve sewn most for she has now hips and she’s growing at extra rates to keep up with her is a real chore but finally her mom thinks I’m good enough for her to wear the outfits not that aren’t cute her mom is a name brand junkie so Abby good luck

  22. The KEY to having them choose the homemade items over all else? Sew what THEY want to wear, not what YOU want to sew. When they’re the right age, they can help choose fabric — fun!

  23. Abby, sewing for children is an adventure and I shop for Euro or Aussie patterns because they are so different. girls are easier than boys, my niece loves dresses and is a nice shape. My grandson will have to be fitted even store bought because he is long waisted, ( a plumber butt at three) his mom is short waisted.? I am dabbling with draping them some master pattern pieces. I worked full time when my kids were little so I didn’t sew too much for them.
    My grandmother sewed all our clothes and then party dresses when we were teens and wedding gowns , she taught us how. We made doll clothes out of our scraps. While she sewed, we sewed. I can’t wait to see whAt you come up with.

  24. Hi Abby – how lucky is your niece to have you! I’ve done sewing for all 5 grandchildren as well as my daughter growing up. It is so satisfying . It is true that when they get to be around 7 or 8 they want justice or other brands that kids in school are wearing but if your niece likes to be different that won’t happen. Good luck in your sewing and try embellishing store bought clothes as well it is really fun!

  25. I have been sewing off and on since I was 7 My mother and aunt used to make me the most dynamic outfits and I was always dressed in new creations they developed. I started sewing again a few years ago for my granddaughters. I never worry about what they will like because children are always thrilled with gifts. I embellish a lot and that makes a skirt special. My second eldest granddaughter got interested in sewing when she was 8 and I gave her my baby singer that I had saved. It is a collectors item now and she keeps it on display. Her parents saw there was an ongoing interest and now at 15 she is the costume director for all the school plays. She has my mother and aunt’s flair for design, a career direction she is considering. I wish I could post the swing out skirts I made for 5 granddaughters and 2 little friends. It is relaxing, creative and challenging at the came time..

  26. When my girls were little I sewed flannel nighties, shorts, cute tops and amazingly simple dresses (at ages 2 and 3). Now that they are adults (ages 35 and 36…) I’m hoping for grandaughters that I can sew for.

  27. I have a little business called Yippi Skippy — skirts for girls that I sew out of fabrics that I have fun finding all over the country. Skirts are so easy to make and moms love them because girls can put them on by themselves. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much longer I can continue making and selling them because my profit margin is pretty slim but I’ve loved doing it for the past year.

  28. I have been sewing for my two year old grandson…I started with Rae’s “Big Butt Baby Pants” which were super easy and fit really well. I’ve also sewn a couple of pairs of corderoy pants..the hardest part has been getting his measurements sent to me from the parents !! My next project is going to be a reversible jacket, made with a darling print from Birch Organic of the outdoors; foxes and tents, trees and more. So far, everyone has been happy with what I make.

  29. My children are grown now, but when they were young I sewed most of their clothes. In some way I had no choice: they were hard to fit, hard to shop for. They were all short for their age and thin for their height, so sewing seemed simpler than shopping. To give an example of their size and fit situation, when my daughters were in kindergarden or first grade or so, they were still wearing toddler size jumpers (the old pattern that buttons at the shoulders). When my sister got married I sewed dresses for them, using a size 5 Vogue pattern, which was big in the neckline, so I had to recut the bodice (0n a 7 year old!) Two years later they could still wear those dresses, although the dresses were getting short in the sleeves and waist. I lengthened the pattern, made new dresses, which they wore for two more years. (My son resembled his paternal grandfather: thin, muscular and needing his trousers altered. My husband has similar bone structure, complicated by childhood surgery. I stopped sewing for my son when he was 18; I still sew for my husband) I sew most of my clothes; the petite size range has been changed since 1963. Back then it was aimed a women under 5′ tall, now it seems intended for taller, thinner adolescents, my daughters complain that “petite” garments are too narrow and long. My daughters have been sewing their own skirts since they were about 9 years old; they got sewing machines in grade school. (When my machine was in the shop I borrowed one of theirs). In some ways they were easy to sew for: my son wanted blue trousers. My daughters also had strong preferences for style and colors, and have not changed what they want to wear. Still sewing after all these years; Lee

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