sewing for kids

November is book month at

Growing Up Sew Liberated: Making Handmade Clothes and Projects for Your Creative Child By Meg McElwee, Published by Interweave Press (June 14, 2011).

Meg McElwee is a teacher and parent, crafter and blogger and she sure knows her stuff. Her latest book is all about sewing for kids – the practical side and fun stuff too. It’s for parents sewing for babies and up to about size 7 – but the bags, toys and dress-ups are more flexible of course. If you know how to size up your own patterns then you can use some of the clothing patterns as a guide to making bigger sizes for your bigger kids. I am going to have to do that with the sleeping johns and crossover tee – I also really love the pants pattern that is included too.

The kids clothing section is minimal because this book is about sewing all the things that your kid will need – there are a few basic clothing items plus other things a cape for dress-ups, a steiner style doll and that fabulous teepee on the front cover! Also there is quite a few baby essentials – including a baby wearing sling, bigs and baby clothes and some sweet toddler alphabet letters. For older kids there is a marvelous nature explorer bag.

For me this book is a big inspiration to throw away (or donate to charity) all those store bought toys and clothes and get back to basics again.

Sewing for Boys: 24 Projects to Create a Handmade Wardrobe By Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage, Published by Wiley; 1 edition (September 6, 2011).

I want my little boy to go back in time just a couple of years so I can make him some of these cutie pie duds. The clothing sizes range from babies up to age 7 – so if you have little boys in this age group then you are in very good luck – because these duds are super cute and practical too.

Because the patterns are written by the gals at Figgys – you are in good hands – these girls know how to sew and write a readable pattern. The patterns are not all aimed at the beginner sewist – there are some more difficult projects that require collars, pockets, buttons, interfacing, facing etc (The Henry shirt for example) – so there is plenty here to challenge and inspire the experienced sewist – while the beginner is not left out either. The lovely thing about making clothes for your little kids is that they appreciate it and wear it even if it’s not perfect – so the important thing is to give it a try even if you are unsure about whether your skills are up to the job – how else will you improve anyway.

Because I like my kids to have nice things to wear I don’t often indulge in special occasion sewing, but I love that there are some special occasion outfits for boys in here – lovely jackets and shirts with collars, a super cute pair of suspender shorts. But most of my sewing for kids involves quick, easy and practical sewing because I know they will be wearing them in the mud and climbing trees and playing soccer – and luckily this book has some of these sorts of things too – romper suits and raglan t-shirts and drawstring pants.

I did say earlier that the patterns only go up to size 7? You can always size up the patterns yourself – using your child’s current clothing as a guide. I think I might do that with the raglan t-shirt -and the linen shirt.

Project excerpt: Make the cute hat that appears on the cover.


I want to welcome Caroline and Maryanne, a couple of sisters who live in Sydney, Australia. Together they chat on their blog and run sewing classes – sewtogether – for new and young mothers who want to sew for themselves and their children.

We come from a long line of crafting women, who have all had the desire to create. We hope to continue this family tradition, spark this passion in our children and share it with friends. We run a sewing school where our main focus is to help our students discover the joy of creating beautiful but simple things and the joy that can be found through being part of a crafty community.

Seize the Moment Sewing
Once upon a time, ladies of leisure embroidered delicate tablecloths with matching napkins, they spent years making heirloom quilts and months smocking dresses for their daughters (and their sons!) Hand creating beautiful things has always been seen as an act of love.

As life becomes busier and time becomes more valuable it can sometimes be impossible to find time to craft and to create special things for the people we love the most, but it’s all about seizing the moment. Those moments come thick and fast in families – first steps, wobbly teeth, receiving your first library card, swimming lessons, first sleepovers – why not seize those milestones and make them extra special with treasures and keepsakes that you can make in minutes, not weeks? In this case, less time doesn’t mean less love. First sleep-over pajamas, library bags, birthday badges and tooth fairy pillows can all be made in less than an hour, used and loved and then stowed away in a keepsake box for later so that memories remain tangible.

We like to call it ‘Seize the moment sewing’! and to get you started… a tutorial to make Birthday Brooches.

These running stitch birthday brooches are super quick, super easy and perfect for kids who love to wear their age with pride (unlike their mothers!)

You’ll need:
– Felt scraps in a variety of colours
– Craft glue
– Embroidery thread in a variety of colours
– A safety pin

1. Cut out your top felt layer. If you are feeling confident you can hand draw and cut, but I like to print a template off my computer. A 300 point font is a good size.
2. Get stitching. I love the sashiko effect of just using running stitch, but it’s up to you!
3. Glue the embroidered layer of felt to a square of felt just slightly larger than the top layer. I use spray glue as it stiffens up the felt nicely, but any kind of craft glue will do the trick.
4. Cut around the number you have just glued leaving enough edge (approx. 3mm / 1inch) to stitch around your first border.
5. Repeat steps 2 ,3 and 4
6. If you don’t want your stitching to show on the back of the brooch, attach another piece of felt (the same size as your final layer) to cover it up. Stitch a safety pin (or brooch back if you have one) to your embroidered number and…you’re done!


Sewing Clothes Kids Love: Sewing Patterns and Instructions for Boys’ and Girls’ Outfits Nancy J.S.Langdon & Sabine Pollehn. Creative International Publishing International, 2010.

Sewing for kids is a craft that has for a long time been so functional that it is easy to forget that kids clothes can be gorgeous, well designed, funky and flexible. The book Sewing Clothes Kids Love ticks all my boxes:

  • Hardcover with wire comb binding so the book sits still when I am using it, which cannot be understated as a feature in crafting books in my opinion, check!
  • Lots of explaining of the motivations and inspirations behind the techniques, design choices and projects, check!
  • Lots of information for beginning sewers about sewing room must haves, techniques, and fabric choices. These are also extra helpful for those of us who’s machine is a little dusty from underuse and really should be unearthed to sew kids clothes and to work down the stash of gorgeous fabrics…. check!
  • A section on measuring your child, and adjusting the pattern to fit. My kids range from petite to lanky, so this is very welcome information! Check!
  • Some great information on tracing, placing and cutting patterns, seam allowances, and fitting. It even has instructions on making a Kinderquin (think mannequin but the exact shape and size of your child). If you have ever tried in vain to have a wriggly or impatient child model stand still for just another fitting of a garment, then this is a must for you. Check!
  • A primer on sewing techniques, including working with knit fabric, gathers, pressing, and embellishment. On embellishment, I love embellished clothes! These patterns allow the sewer to make the clothes as basic or as fancy as you like. Check!
  • A range of projects that, when you look at them, are actually well designed staples of a kid’s wardrobe, including a tshirt, hoodie, leggings, shorts, tank top, skirt, trousers, jacket, windbreaker and dresses. You could make six pairs of trousers and six t-shirts, and nobody would know that they were from the same pattern. Fantastic! Check!
  • Size charts and fabric requirements tables for each pattern + Loads of diagrams and photos of each project + Lots of tips and options for customising each project, and including your child in the design process, check!
  • All of the projects are clothes that are stylish, functional, can be dressed up or down, and really importantly for me, don’t buy into the “dressing children as adults, especially little girls as teenagers or young women”. These are good kids clothes, designed for kids. Check!
  • Last but certainly not least, the book has a pocket with 10 full sized patterns inside, so if the mood takes you, you can just pick your fabric, measure your child, trace off the pattern and start sewing. Check!
  • If sewing kids clothes is something that you do, or have yet to try, or someone you know sews for your kids, or even if your kids want to start sewing for themselves, this book is a great place to start. [check out their website to find out more]

    Reviewed by: Kate is a busy mother of four with many craft projects on the go, including, but not limited to, crochet, knitting, sewing, dyeing, paper making, spinning, felting and bookbinding. Kate has challenges in the areas of finishing things, saying no and craft supplies storage. She also has a very very patient and tolerant husband.