Making clothing for your children is perhaps one of the oldest of domestic chores. This activity, much like baking for your kids, connects parents with parents back through the ages. It can be incredibly fulfilling and centering work, and may even save you a few bucks.
Dressmaking for kids can save you some money over store-bought clothing, sure, but it can also be a wonderful outlet for your creative energies. Coming up with new designs that you and your children will appreciate is actually a lot of fun.
You don’t have to be a master seamstress to do some dressmaking for children, making it a great activity for learning the ropes and doing a little experimenting. There is a lot to think about, but when clothing kids, it’s alright if things aren’t perfect in every way. Failures can become play clothes, and at the very least, the kids will outgrow them quickly!
First Things First
Stay-at-home parents may have a little more time for domestic work than working parents. This isn’t to suggest that full-time parents don’t work hard, but that dressmaking for children may be a significant part of the work that they do in the home. For working parents, the time it takes to build your skills and get faster with your dressmaking is coming from a very finite pool of available time, so make sure to schedule accordingly, and enjoy yourself, rather then feeling rushed.
After you’ve set aside the time you’ll need, you’ll want to make sure you have the basic equipment and supplies that you’ll need to get the job done. Basic tools such as a sewing machine, good scissors, thread, a measuring tape, and a seam-ripper should be enough to get you by for a while. If you intend to do a large amount of sewing for your kids, you might want to spend the extra money for a top of the line sewing machine and maybe a serger, but when you’re just getting started, basic tools will do.
The first few garments you make should be drawn from simple patterns – the easier, the better. Most patterns you can find in fabric stores and online are classified by difficulty as well as clothing style. Choose a few of the easier patterns to start and consider making more than one of each piece – perhaps in varying colors and fabrics. This practice will allow you to work out the kinks, and really develop the specific skills needed for a given garment before moving on to more difficult pieces.
Color and fabric are your next factors to think about. When looking at fabric, think sturdy cottons, denim, and perhaps corduroy. These fabric choices clean easily, and hold up to a fair amount of abuse – something you want in a garment intended for daily wear. Avoid expensive fabrics, and those easily torn or stained. Silks, satins, and linen are best avoided until some other time.
When sizing, you might consider making the clothing a bit on the large side. Don’t go overboard and create clothes that your kids will end up swimming in, but it’s a shame to complete an outfit just to have your children outgrow them in a matter of weeks! By sizing up, you’re buying yourself time during which your children can benefit from the clothing – and more time before you have to sew some more!
For very small children, make whatever you like, and don’t worry too much about their opinions. As children grow older, though, they’re likely to have some clear preferences. To avoid fights over donning the clothes you’ve spent so much time and money preparing, get your children’s’ input from the beginning, from pattern to color to fabric. You can take this a step further and let them help in the cutting and sewing process. This way, they’ll not only be thrilled with the clothing the “the made,” but you’ll also get to spend some wonderful time being creative with your kids!