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altering a pattern,for a child

ellalouise | Posted in Fitting on

i know there are many of pros out there for sewing up a pattern for a child,i have a grandaughter that has a very skinnny waist and upper toso,is tall for her age,the top of the dress is way too short for her size,shall i extend it to fit her?now for the top of the dress,i need to take it in,on the side seams and then it is too large, do i take in the front of the pattern also?please help,toobad they don”t make a dress size in slims.


  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    My tall, slim daughter was hard to fit, also, until I discovered that I could take four or more inches of width out of the center back to make everything fit better.  I also bought a smaller size pattern (so that the shoulders and upper bodice would fit better), sliced it at the lengthening lines, and then made the back much narrower.

    Tissue fitting works well on dresses and tops; cut out the pattern, pin the seams together, and try it on her (maybe bribing her with a treat to stand still for five minutes) before cutting it out of fabric.  If you've already cut out the dress, try it on her inside-out and use safety pins to pin out the excess, starting with the center back.  You can see immediate improvement, and the pins become the new seam line with no need for marking.  If the armholes and neck are too big, you probably need a smaller pattern as well.

    Most dress patterns for girls have nearly equal fronts and backs, but if you measure your child, you might find that she's only 7-9" across the upper back but 17-19" across the front.  Even as an adult, her front and back measurements are completely different.

  2. sewingkmulkey | | #2

    I had 2 small, slim daughters and sewing simply became a job of lengthening the bodice, sleeves and skirt by slashing at the appropriate space on the patterns.  I think I used a child's size 2 pattern for one of my daughters until she was around 5 years old by merely lengthening the patterns.  I now find myself doing the same for my granddaughter who is 5 yrs old.  I use a child's size 3 pattern that is lengthened appropriately and the fit is perfect for her!

    1. ellalouise | | #4

      to everyone who replied about altering a pattern for a child,i loved all of your responses, onto my pattern and the machine to sew up these dresses for school,gee it starts augast16,will be here before i know  it,thankyou again,what an inspiration.

      1. tmorris1 | | #5

        Ella;You may also want to consider leaving an ample hem in the garments for your granddaughter. I have found that since slim children tend to grow strictly up, and not out, you can get many years of wear out of the clothing by allowing for some extra length in the future. I am also careful to pre-wash all of my children's fabrics with a stain guard to give the clothes more longevity. T.

        1. tmorris1 | | #6

          I had an email question regarding stain guard, so thought that I would post the response here also...There are many different types of stain guard out there. Many are simply added to dryer sheets, and you can use them every time that you wash. I find it important to do this from the first wash so that the areas within the seams are also protected. There are also liquid additives that you can put into the wash, and laundry detergents with a stain guard additive. Because children's skin is so sensitive, I would suggest trying a product before using it on all of their clothes. Also, if your children's skin is VERY sensitive, you can dry their clothes with about 1 meter of untreated hemp cloth. The oils in the hemp will saturate the fibres of your fabric, and make them more resistant to stains. Stay away from the scotchguard spray, however, it has proven to be quite toxic, and from what I have been able to discern, many of the factory workers who handle this stuff have become quite ill.Tara

          1. ctirish | | #7

            Tara, I have never seen any type of stain guard - dryer sheets of additives. Can you tell us the names of some of them and where you purchase them? Thanks, jane

          2. tmorris1 | | #9

            Jane;Look for the words "helps resist stains," you will never find the words stain guard. Also if you check the ingredients, any oils, or wax additives will help resist stains. These products are made by all of the big detergent companies.T.

          3. ctirish | | #10

            Thank you....I will check it out.. j

          4. Teaf5 | | #8

            Thank you for raising this concern, Tara!  As an adult with sensitive skin, I can't even dry my own clothes at a laundromat because the residue left from dryer sheets blisters my skin.  I'm currently suffering from hives caused by a rtw nightshirt with flame-retardant.

            My mother's solution to stain retardation was to have a brightly pattern area in the center front of each top--just where ice cream was likely to spill.  If we stained a plain top that wouldn't come clean, she'd make up an interesting applique and add it. 

            Embellishment has saved many of my tops and fascinated my friends!

  3. kbalinski | | #3

    My daughter is also very petite.  She's four now, and growing, but also very slim.  I, too, am still using size 2 and 3 patterns, and adjusting for length.  Otherwise, everything is so baggy and sloppy looking.  I was planning on copying a pair of jeans to make her some school pants, since they fit her perfectly.  If you alter the pattern, I agree with removing width from center back and front, but don't forget to alter the facings the same way.

    Good luck,


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