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fitting baby clothes

nmog | Posted in General Discussion on

I am an intermediate level sewer who has great difficulty making baby clothes for my 9 month old son.  The patterns are all huge!  He fit into a newborn size when he was 17 pounds.  Hmmm. Does anyone have any suggestions?  The pattern companies told me to tissue fit the pattern on him before I sewed it.  He’s almost walking, and it’s all I can do to catch him when it’s snack time, much less tissue fit anything.  Are there any good books on pattern drafting baby clothes?  I’ve taken one course, but I’m not sure if the time taken to draft a pattern would be worth it.  Any sufggestions would be appreciated.



  1. Jean | | #1

    Look for this book. You'll love it. Try half.com.

    TITLE: Kwik-Sew's Sewing for Toddlers
    by Kerstin Martensson
    ISBN: 0913212164
    Publisher: Kwik-Sew Pattern Co
    Publish Date: 01 May, 1992

    Look also for this one for babies.

    TITLE: Sewing for Baby
    by Kerstin Martensson
    ISBN: 091321213X
    Publisher: Kwik-Sew Pattern Co
    Publish Date: 01 June, 1990
    Binding: Paperback

    Edited 2/21/2004 5:01:29 PM ET by Jean

    1. nmog | | #5

      Those sound like great books.  I can get them at my usual fabric store.  I must say, I'd walked by them a number of times, but it's good to know that they're good.  Thanks for the advice!


      1. sarahkayla | | #6

        my now nearly 8 year old son keeps wearing a pants that i first traced off of a pair he got as a baby.  they fit him great... so i just  lay the pants out on four layers of fabric and cut...for all of the subsequent pains of pants I just made them a bit bigger... the earlier pairs has lots of diaper room. now he is kind of deficient in the tushie department...and we make pleats in the front and just have elastic in the back....for play pants I just make huge patch pockets on the legs...for school pants we make inseam pockets. We make them in weird goofy prints for the summer as shorts and in blue twill for school - and all of them come from the same pair of size 9 month turquoise courderoy pants..  it takes me about 40 minutes to make a pair.

        sarah in nyc

        1. nmog | | #8

          That's amazing!  I can't believe that the pattern would last so long (with minor alterations).  Its sounds like your drafting skills are superior to mine, though, if you're doing waistbands, etc.


          1. sarahkayla | | #9

            My drafting skills are minimal...you add a couple of inches for a waistband casing. you add  some in the length and you stretch out the waistband to figure out how wide to make the pants. you just make everything a bit bigger as the kid grows...I'm ashamed to say that I make the backs and fronts identical...for little kids...it works just fine...besides I justify it by the fact that my kids can never figure out which is the front and which is the back... Now that I make inseam pockets and a flat front it helps my guy figure out which is the front..he has been known to put jeans on backwards (yes...with pockets and a fly and all)  and not notice.

            I do the same with tank tops for my DD (and for me)

            sarah in nyc

          2. carolfresia | | #10

            Sarah, I read somewhere that Sandra Betzina also made all her kids' pants with identical fronts and backs. It works well both with diapers and with those little cylindrical bodies many kids have.  And incidentally, my son wore a pair of Gap 9-12 mos. shorts till he was 4; length wasn't a big issue 'cause they were shorts (and no knees to wear out, either), and once the diapers were gone, he had all that room left for himself. I felt as if I should write an annual thank you note to the kind relatives who gave him those shorts when he was born!  

            I second the idea of either measuring a well-fitting garment and comparing it to the pattern, or simply overlaying the garment on the pattern (or vice versa--works both ways) to compare. I have found that the Kwik Sew patterns, as someone else pointed out, are excellent--they run much truer to size (at least for my average-sized kids), and just don't seem to be drafted with all that extra ease or shoulder width. The "Sewing for Babies/Toddlers/Children" master pattern books are wonderful--they have all the pattern pieces for very basic garments, and then lots of instructions for revising the patterns slightly to make other garments. They're well written, so if you're tentative about pattern adjustment, these books are also a terrific lesson in how to adapt patterns to create new styles.


          3. sarahkayla | | #11

            some kids just don't out grow clothing.. my nearly 8 YO just pulled on the sweater my father bought him for his first birthday... It was a 3T.. ok it did look skimpy...but it fit.

            also those baby gap clothes are terribly forgiving... I remember when my oldest was 3 and wearing a 5 and she wet her pants in the park...she wore her infant brother's baby gap cotton knit pants home...they looked like capris on her... Laura ashley clothing also had the amazing abitilty to fit for ever.. and given how spendy they are.. it was very welcome.

            I just wish I knew how to sew clothing better when my oldest was little.. she just expressed the same regret when i made a tutu for my cousin's baby.

            sarah in nyc

          4. carolfresia | | #12

            You're so right. I myself wore a wonderful mohair sweater knitted by an aunt (I think--it was a double hand-me-down by the time I got it) from the time I was about 10 till I was in college. It went from being a big, fluffy jacket to being a snug, fluffy, 3/4-length sleeve cardigan.

            So why is it that since I passed my 40th birthday I outgrow my clothes every year?! It's that terrible shift from only vertically upward growth to only horizontally outward growth.  


  2. stitchmd | | #2

    You can substitute for the tissue fitting by placing the pattern pieces on something that does fit him. As for huge, he'll grow very fast, so hopefully nothing will go to waste. I quickly gave up sewing for my kids other than Halloween costumes as they outgrew everything too quickly. What I did do was make deep hems on the legs and sleeves of things so they'd last through some growth. Kids clothing increases very little in width from size to size, most of the difference is in length as growth is primarily vertical.

    1. nmog | | #3

      Making the wide hems sounds like a good idea, and putting the pieces over something that fits is brilliant. In fact, it should have occured to me. Oh well, lack of sleep does that to me.


  3. FitnessNut | | #4

    I'll second Jean's suggestion of the Kwik Sew books. I had the same problem with my first baby 17 years ago (OMG, has it been that long?)....everything was so huge, especially the necklines, on the regular patterns. For what is a relatively small cost compared to buying commercial patterns, the Kwik Sew books offer basic patterns that really are true to size, with many, many ideas for customizing the pattern to your design. Quick and easy, unless you choose to make it more complicated. Personally, I'd get my hands on both of these books and forget the pattern drafting. It simply isn't worth the time for a baby/toddler, IMHO.

    Have lots of fun sewing for your baby boy. Enjoy!


    Edited to say that the publishing information from Jean is the revised, updated version of the books. I have the originals, but they are essentially the same.

    Edited 2/22/2004 12:28:19 PM ET by Sandy

    1. nmog | | #7

      Yes, pattern drafting for my son was one of those ideas that came to me in my sleep-deprived state.  What you're saying makes a lot more sense.


  4. AmyC | | #13

    Thank you for the great subject!  I sew for my 6 mo baby and 3 yo son and I love to read all of your thoughts on this!

    I have one suggestion to add. I made my daughter a sleeper, and rather than put cuff bands on the sleeves, I finished the cuff with a narrow hem and added some elastic about two inches away from the cuff edge.  The cuffs have a little ruffle and are they make her sleeper very easy to put on.    I assembled the sleeves with 'flat' construction, I find the tiny little cuffs too hard to work with.

    1. lbbray | | #14

      Years ago, when my daughter was little, there was a RTW brand called Martha's Minatures.  They were way expensive but absolutely beautiful and wonderfully made.  They had little bells sewn on and jingled when she walked.  And the best thing, were made with built in grow room.  They always had full skirts (or at least the ones I bought, or better yet, my mother bought!) and had both deep hems and tucks to let out.  And, since they were "best" dresses, only got worn for church etc.  She wore and wore hers, with me letting the tucks out, then the hems.  Then tucks back in, hems back up, and got passed down to my neice.   I took hints from that and put tucks and deep hems in all sorts of things.  Tops, shorts, dresses, pants, everything.  I also would sometimes add width to little outfits and put sort of like tabs on the sides to take in and let out.  (Like we use on roll up sleeves).  Now, of course, I'm having to remember just how I did all that for Maddie.

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