Sewing Seams for Baby Clothes
While I don't have children of my own, I do have many wonderful children in my life, and I love sewing for them. I can never get over how adorably small their little clothes are, and it is so gratifying to be able to whip up a little outfit at the sewing machine in no time.
Reversible Baby Sweatshirt and Reversible Bubble Pants, from Growing Up Sew Liberated.
When sewing for little ones, I definitely approach it a bit differently with their unique needs in mind. I make my seams extra strong so a kid can move, run around, and play in the clothes with no worries. I also pick soft, comfortable fabrics that will feel good on their skin, otherwise you know they won't wear it, and all that work sewing something will be for nothing!
Over the past couple of years there has been a creative explosion of fun patterns for babies and kids from independent designers. One of my favorite designers is Meg McElwee, designer of the Sew Liberated pattern line and author of the blog of the same name. As a Montessori teacher and mother of two, she knows how kids play and interact with their environment, and she designs clothes, toys, and accessories for them that encourage creative development. As a former Montessori student myself, I love this holistic approach to making things for kids that emphasize learning and creative play.
In Meg's book, Growing Up Sew Liberated: Making Handmade Clothes + Projects for Your Creative Child, she features adorable and innovative projects for babies and kids for each part of their day. From getting dressed in the morning and playing outside to mealtimes and bedtime, she offers not only kid-friendly projects, but also activity ideas that encourage creativity in your child.
There are many helpful sewing tips throughout the book, and one of the key things Meg points out is to pay attention to the seams on the inside of the garment. Exposed seams can be very irritating to babies and kids-the inside of the clothing should always be soft against their skin. Here is Meg's simple tutorial on creating a smooth seam finish for your little ones:
Itch-Free Finish for Exposed Seams
In order to make finishing seams easier, I find it helpful to prepare the edges before assembly by zigzagging or serging 1/8" (3 mm) from the raw edges. Be sure the edge finish does not compromise the accuracy of the seam allowances by distorting the raw edges. If you choose to finish the edges first, skip Step c below.
fig. A: clip along curves in the seam allowance
fig. B: tack remaining seam allowances
fig. C: parallel stitching brackets the finished seam
a. Clip about every ½" (1.3 cm) along any curves in the seam allowances, being careful not to cut into or through any seamlines (fig. A).
b. Press the seam open.
c. Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch, 1.5 mm long × 3 mm wide. Fold the main portion of the garment out of the way, leaving only one seam allowance under the machine's presser foot, and zigzag near the raw edge along the entire length of the seam. Turn the garment and repeat to zigzag along the remaining seam allowance edge. Press the seam open once again.
d. Adjust the needle position to a point ¼" (6 mm) from the presser foot's left edge and align the left edge with the seamline. Set the machine for a straight stitch 3.0 mm long. Sew along the entire seam, using the seam as a guide, tacking the seam allowance to the garment as you go (fig. B). Continue stitching across any gaps created by clipping. This stitching will be visible on the outside of the garment, so keep it neat and straight!
e. Turn the garment around and repeat Step d to tack the remaining seam allowance to the garment (fig. B). From the right side of the garment, you will see two parallel lines of stitching bracketing the seam (fig. C). This finish will not only keep the seam allowances from raveling in the wash, but will provide a smoother finish inside the garment against sensitive skin.
I hope this inspires you to sew fabulous new projects for the kids in your life!