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pattern sizing for children

JeanE | Posted in General Discussion on

I have had a problem picking the right size for my granddaughter, Maggie since she was 9 months old.  Simplicity paterns come in infants, 1/2 thro 4, 2 thro 4, and 3 thro 8.  The size 2 is not the same as the size 2 in the other groups.  She is now 2 and a half and in a size 3 in store bought clothes.  35″ tall, 20″ in the chest.  What do these size catagories mean.  What is the difference in comparing them.

Lost and bewildered.



  1. starzoe | | #1

    Take the girl's measurements and then go to the back of pattern books to find which size should fit her. RTW and patterns are not sized the same. You may have to adjust some part of bought patterns, children vary so much.

  2. nmog | | #2

    Children's pattern sizes are absolutely bizarre. Our son fit into a newborn size when he was 15 pounds, and our daughter at 17 pounds! I called Vogue patterns to get some info and was told to tissue fit it to the baby. Hmmm.
    Someone told me once that to find what size pattern you should use for ####child, subtract 2 from their age and then do that. However, our daughter, now almost 3 (and about the same size as your granddaughter), fits into a size 4 in most pattern companies. Since she grows so quickly I usually just make an extra long hem, fold it over and sew it and then do it again so that when she is taller I have an extra two inches in the dress. I can just take out the second hem. Does that make any sense??
    Good luck with sewing for the grandkids. It's so much fun and they are delighted with everything! Pillowcases are a bit hit as well, and you won't need to worry about fitting.

  3. sewchris703 | | #3

    With my kids, I found that the big 2 pattern companies sucked at sizing for infants and toddlers. But KwikSew's sizing is great. I use them now for my grandchildren. And you can buy all the patterns you need for newborn to 18 months, 1-4 yos, and children for under $20 for each.


  4. Teaf5 | | #4

    The only children's patterns that ever worked well unaltered were the wrap sundresses with long ties that could cinch up to my slender daughter.  Many of the rest could fit a small adult with ease, and ost seem to assume that children are sized and shaped like oil barrels. 

    But here's a strategy that works:  if you're near the child, ask to borrow one piece that fits her, and use that to size a pattern, allowing for growth.  If you're not near the child, ask the parents to send you something that she loved but has just grown out of; you'll have a much better idea of proportion and just need to size the pattern slightly bigger, plus you'll know what the child really likes in terms of colors and styles.

  5. sewelegant | | #5

    Something that helped me:

    I looked up the store bought size I knew they wore on the Target mail order site.  You can also go to Land's End, they have a good comparison chart.  If the store you shop at does not have a web site like that, go buy something at a store you know has a mail order catalog.  See what the measurements are for the size you would purchase and compare that with the pattern envelope to find the proper pattern size.  I found most of the sizing was similar when the kids were small.

    Look at the page in the Simplicity (or any pattern book) that shows the sizing and you can see how the different size 2 compares.  The older the child gets the more elongated they become so that makes the difference in the size 2T (for toddler) and size 2 for infants.  Childrens sizes are pretty easy because they are not usually very fitted so will fit as long as you have the circumference right.

    I am going to edit this because as the kids got older, it was harder for me to sew for them without having them near.  I read somewhere that catalogs will make their clothes bigger so they don't get so many returns and I think that was true because by following my earlier method when they were toddlers everything I made was huge.

    Edited 7/21/2008 1:41 pm by sewelegant

  6. sewingkmulkey | | #6

    I think that children's pattern sizing vs. RTW is almost as far off as women's sizing.  My daughters were slim and I sewed a size Child's 2 until they were nearly 5 years old just lenghtening the waist length and skirt/pant length.  Using a RTW garment currently fitting a child (as suggested by other posters) is a great idea.

    I also believe that we, as seamstresses, are more exacting in fitting our garments even for children.  After all, that's one of the main reasons I sew as well as being able to choose the exact fabric and color desired.  We just don't want to settle for less than perfect fit and execution in all our garments.  I even sew Halloween costumes with nearly the same care as given regular clothing for my grandchildren and I do so (sew) with love and great satisfaction achieving a well fitting outfit.


  7. dressed2atee | | #7

    I never compare sizing in children or adults pattern sizes vs. RTW.  I'v made children's clothing and I measure the chest and waist and use that to determine which pattern size to buy.  So far, I haven't had any fitting issues with children's clothes. 

    For example, a size 4 in a pattern is much bigger than a RTW size 4.  Kids are pretty easy since they don't have curves.  You may have to lengthen or shorten, but that's about it.

  8. woodruff | | #8

    Since I found that most of the Big Four kid's patterns run enormous, I generally ignore the alleged "size" and instead look at the measurements: What you need to match are the chest and waist for most children, boys or girls. With those measurements you can make a pretty good looking garment. My son, for example was very tall and very thin. Even working with Kwik Sew, whose sizing is maybe the most accurate, I would make a "size" that was way younger than my kid, and just lengthen the heck out of it.

    As a matter of fact, he is now a very tall, slender adult, and I STILL choose his pattern 'size' the same way, lengthening as needed. I mean, he is 6' 3" tall, 165 pounds, so in a Simplicity shirt, for example, he usually takes a "Small," with a number of inches added to the sleeve and body length, but no changes in girth.

    1. JeanE | | #9

      This message is for all of you.  I want to thank all of you for your input.  Her measurements change so fast I can hardly keep up with them.  She thinks being measured is fun however, thank goodness.  I will follow the advice of several of you and will let you know what works for me.

      Thanks again.



      1. polycrafter | | #10

        I'll second that the Kwik Sew books are a really good investment, especially if you sew a lot.But having said that, my DD's favorite things have always been made from patterns that I traced off of her favorite RTW. If the item was outgrown, I just resized appropriately.I also use the idea (mentioned above) of taking a well-fitting RTW item, holding it against the pattern tissue (keeping seam allowances in mind, of course) and picking the best match (or next bigger size, if that's the goal).Also, when sewing for children remember: Elastic is your friend!!!!

        1. sewchris703 | | #11

          And sew fast.Chris

      2. BernaWeaves | | #12

        You think children's sizing is off, what about adults?  I wear a size 4 dress in RTW, but a size 14 or 16 if I buy a sewing pattern.  No wonder people don't like to make their own clothes.  Granted it's not the sewing pattern's fault.  I also wear a size 14 to 16 in vintage clothing from the 1950's.  Personally, I like to shop at Chicos.  They have their own sizing and I wear a 0, hehehehe.


        Edited 7/25/2008 3:15 pm ET by BernaWeaves

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #13

          I prefer to think of the numbers as an AGE, not a size, thankyou very much....tee, hee.....
          It could be letters like bra sizes and we would still fuss over the differences. It is the numbers on the tape measure, compared to those on the pattern company charts that matter that count. It's only a starting point anyway. And if you don't tell I won't..... Cathy

        2. Cherrypops | | #14

          Hi Berna,

          I am also a size 14 in sewing patterns - waist down..12 up top. and use the 12-16 size range from the 1950's patterns, it depends on the company.

          After I have sewn my dresses or tops I put the size 8 tag on it. ( 8 in Australia is 6.. I think in the US).

          I have compliments on my clothing, they are surprised when I show them the pattern with the higher number...not many of my friends sew.


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