Tips for choosing the right size to make from a new pattern
Having the kids' body measurements on hand will save you from having to step out of your sewing-zen-zone to check if the pattern you plan on using will fit.
Finding time to sit down and enjoy some creative me-time with your sewing machine can be difficult. Often that precious time is when the kids are asleep or when the kids are enjoying some fun playtime without you.
Sewing clothes for your kids is not only an investment with money spent on fabric but also an investment with your time, you really should check how the pattern and size that you want to make will most likely fit your child so the garment that you make will be used and not end up at the back of the closet.
Patterns often have measurement tables to refer to when choosing what size to make. Often the sizes are referred to by age or the height of the child. The various sizes will then have a list of key measurements like chest circumference, leg length etc.
The measurements in these tables are to be used as a reference for choosing a size that will most likely fit your child. I say "most likely" because some children are long and skinny and some are short and cuddly. A wonderful thing about sewing clothes yourself is that you get a chance to make them fit.
In order to figure out what size you should use, you first have to measure your child at the key points mentioned in the pattern's reference table. Then you compare the measurements you got with the numbers in the table. Keep in mind that not all the measurements within a size will match exactly with your child's measurements.
Choose a size where you will have the least trouble adjusting parts of the pattern. Adding more length to a pattern is often easier than adjusting the fit of a sleeve.
You also need to consider if the garment that you are making should be a loose fit or a tight fit. A good pattern will mention how much ease there is added to the pattern in relation to the standard sizes mentioned in the size reference table. A lot of ease will give a loose-fitting garment.
Check how much ease there is in a pattern by measuring the pattern piece that you want to test. If you want to check how tight a shirt is across the chest, you measure the pattern pieces for the back and the front across the chest area from seam to seam. Remember to take into account that pattern pieces are often on the fold (those you multiply by 2). Add the measure for the back and front together. Take your measuring tape and make a loop with the circumference equal to the total measure you got from the pattern pieces. Try on the loop of the measuring tape around the chest to see if it will be a loose or tight-fitting shirt.
I recommend keeping a record of the key measurements of your child. That way you don't have to check their measurements every time you want to sew. Often the kids hate standing still while being measured and your well-deserved-me-time should be spent on sewing and not on begging your child to stand still.
I have made a printable guide and record-keeper for taking notes of your child's measurements. It shows where and how to measure the child's body and has dedicated places for writing the key measurements. You can add extra measurements and write notes that you want to remember.
There is a page picturing a girl and a page picturing a boy. You can print out as many as you need.
Take new measurements as your children grow and keep them as a fun memory and a reminder of your creative journey with sewing.
Click the image below to get the free pdf