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On the perils of sewing without fitting

2012 February 28
by elizabeth_admin

My sister sent me pictures of Katie wearing her new dress. 

Ugh.  Let’s just say it’s big. 

Very big.  Ginormous even.

My belief that making kids clothes doesn’t require in-process fittings because they have stick bodies with no curves for which to account has just been debunked.  Again.  Why do I keep on insisting that this erroneous belief is true after countless experiences to the contrary?  I don’t know.  Maybe I am just dogged by dogma. *sigh*

Here are the crime photos, I mean evidence:


See what I mean?  GINORMOUS!!!!!

I am so disappointed that I am going to do something I don’t even do for myself.  I am going to alter this dress.  I am going to take in at least 2 inches of circumference from the side seams, if not more if I can without destroying the armscye shape completely.   I should be able to do this without removing the facing. 

She does look cute though, doesn’t she?  And I love these colors on her.  Incidentally, my sister, her mom, said that Katie had just told my sister that her favorite colors were now pink and green.  How fortuitous is that?

My new sewing rule going forward:

 “Always check the fit, even if, and especially if, it is to be a gift.”

28 Responses leave one →
  1. February 28, 2012

    Ginormous – yes, but soooo cute! Katie is cuter though :))

  2. February 28, 2012

    It’s so cute. I know nothing about small humans. But, do you really need to take it in? I understand that they grow.

  3. Karen Mulkey permalink
    February 28, 2012

    Oh, Elizabeth I almost sent you a frantic reply when you mentioned that you were sewing up a size 6 pattern for your niece because she is 6 years old! I have 2 slim daughters that I sewed numerous outfits using a size 2 child (not toddler) pattern for many, many years by just lengthening the bodice and skirt length. Today I do the same for my granddaughter. I simply have no idea why pattern companies draft children’s patterns for only chubby kids. I’m sure you can “make it work” with your alteration and it will be worth the effort since the dress is adorable.

  4. February 28, 2012

    I echo Cidell – won’t she just grow into it?

  5. annie permalink
    February 28, 2012

    My DDIL told me that my gd wore a size 12 dress. I had some doubts but how can you argue with the mother? Made up a gorgeous dress and embellished the flowers with swarovski crystal beads. I don’t need to say anymore. And yes, she might grow into it, but probably at the wrong season. I enjoyed making the dress and giving it to her.

  6. Jenn permalink
    February 28, 2012

    I sew for 3 girls, 2 boys, 2 men, and myself (not including my mom, sister, or dad…)

    I never sew the right size – I sew for my children (pre-puberty) with 4 measurements – chest, waist, back length, inseam. So, most times I am sewing a size 2 for my 6 year old girl with added length, a 7 (with added length) for my almost 10 year old boy and an 8 (with length) for my almost 12 year old boy.

    I quit sewing by size. Measurements only. Works better – fewer mistakes and waiting to grow into it.

  7. February 28, 2012

    How about sewing a channel under the green waistline and inserting elastic?

  8. February 28, 2012

    It doesn’t so much look ill-fitting as over-sized all around—another casualty of kids’ patterns with excessive ease. You could take in the sides a bit, but I think the real cure here will be growth. (I’m curious, did you just go by her age or did you use her chest measurement?)

    I’m a little torn on the issue, though. Unlike most Big 4 kids patterns, the Jalie jeans I make my kids have a perfect amount of ease—so if I make them true to size, they only fit for a few months before they’re outgrown. Which is equally frustrating.

  9. Paula permalink
    February 28, 2012

    Not your fault! These Big 4 are often too large for kids. Why not just whip up another dress in a smaller size? No stress about altering and much quicker. She’ll be wearing this beautiful creation before you know it. And it will be something she can look forward to. Two for the price of one. Your work is beautiful.

  10. February 28, 2012

    Tell her that it is meant to be worn under a sweatshirt.

  11. February 28, 2012

    Here where it is hot (even winter can be 24c in the day) we just let the kids grow into them. “she can wear it next year.” is often heard. That may not be an option where you have distinct seasons as maybe it will too small by the time it gets warm enough. She doesn’t look bothered. I’d just make another but smaller and then she has two! (I don’t really do alterations either!)

  12. February 28, 2012

    She looks so cute! Whatever you decide to do (take this in, adding elastic, or making a second version) I am sure she will be so appreciative to be able to wear it now. Good luck with your alterations!

  13. STL Mom permalink
    February 28, 2012

    So disappointing, since it is a lovely dress.

    For those who think she will grow into it, that depends. Sometimes kids grow six inches taller without getting any wider anywhere. Other times, they get wider first and then grow taller. You just never know! By the time this dress fits well in the chest, it might be a micro-mini.

    I think if you take it in a bit on the sides, it will be great. The neckline looks fine.

    Kid’s sizing can be as weird as adult sizing. I’ve made Kwik Sew patterns for my daughter using the small size for width and the extra-large for length.

  14. saro permalink
    February 28, 2012

    I think it’s lovely and aren’t kids supposed to grow quickly? 🙂

    – Lazy seamstress

  15. February 29, 2012

    You can’t just take that dress in at the sides because the shoulder are falling off her. You would have to take it in at the center front (and back). I vote for making a second dress and letting her grow into that one!

  16. Patti permalink
    February 29, 2012

    For little kids, middle kids, big kids and adults … Sew to the measurements. Size means nuttin! For my DVD when she was little, I sewed size 4 waist and size 7 length for pants. Not über skinny, just normal healthy kid size.

  17. February 29, 2012

    I have discovered the same issue with kids patterns: you have to make a smaller size than you think you should. If you have enough fabric, you could make a smaller version.

  18. February 29, 2012

    Kid’s pattern run large and when my students end up with a too big dress, we add ties on each side for them to just make a bow in the back and call it good. She can wear a blouse underneath and call it a jumper. Summer is a long way away and going sleeveless might be pushing it in March unless she lives in a very warm climate. Lesson learned, your dress is adorable, don’t fret!

  19. February 29, 2012

    I think a quick side adjustment might just do the trick. I’d pin it and see.
    On the growing into thought…I made several pieces for my little ones with that in mind and whilst they grow like weeds upwards, they are still the same chest size as patterns 1 – 2 years younger than they are, dependent on brand.
    And anyway, this is far too pretty a dress to languish in a drawer. It’s beautiful and you should be very proud of your skills.

  20. February 29, 2012

    Such a pretty dress and love the colors on your niece. Definitely take in the side and back seams and she will be good to go.

  21. February 29, 2012

    I sew for four girls: my niece, age 6, and my three girls, ages 4, almost 3, and 14 months. My niece at 6 is slender and about average height and wears a sewing size four, but often has extra ease. My older two daughters are very thin and I make them a 6 month size and elongate it to sizes 2 and 3 in length. My 14-month-old daughter is average in height and weight and wears a size 1 with plenty of ease. I don’t know at what age all this reverses yet, but I figure that I need to measure all their stats whenever they outgrow any clothing.

  22. February 29, 2012

    Also, I don’t suppose you have enough fabric to just make her another one as I think this will fit her perfectly in two years.

  23. February 29, 2012

    Also, I don’t suppose you have enough fabric to just make her another one as I think this will fit her perfectly in two years?

  24. February 29, 2012

    Peter’s suggestion is brilliant – insert an elastic channel into the back and it can be taken out as she grows. Or tell her, as Claudine suggested, that it’s meant to be worn with a shirt underneath!

  25. March 1, 2012

    Oh no! I think its lovely as it is, that is for Katie when she grows into it. I agree with previous comments that it would be a pity to try to alter the dress so much to fit Katie now, even though you want to. I suggest you make another dress with the same pattern in, obviously, different fabric and smaller so the gorgeous girl will have one for now and another to look forward to when she grows up a little.

  26. March 2, 2012

    Think of children’s clothing in a three year cycle..the year it was too big, the year it fitted just right and the year it was too short but they wouldn’t let it go. It was my measure of garment success when the girls were little.

  27. April 30, 2012

    I feel for you! I would disagree though that kids don’t have curves. I just measured my 6 year old for a project, and while her bust/waist/hips are all within an inch, viewed from the side, she has a big booty and a big abdomen. That beautiful dress you made would be way too small on her…she needs a size 10 in the chest and I don’t even know for the waist as the kids’ patterns I have either don’t give a waist (?!) or only go up to a 12 which isn’t big enough. I was actually suprised to see that size 10 did have about 4″ difference between waist and bust!
    Would the dress fit better if she wore a t-shirt under it?

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