I have been obsessed with this idea lately. I don’t know how I got started on it but I have had this idea about ‘growing clothes’ for kids. Specifically my kid. Here’s the deal: I really enjoy hand making things. I love it, in fact, and I also love being surrounded by beautiful hand made objects. Before the baby was born I spent so much time making him blankets and quilts, curating an all-stripes baby wardrobe, and picking out only wooden toys and french books with beautiful illustrations. Then, the baby came, he grew out of his clothes almost over night and I had exactly zero time to spend finding cute clothes and since he was going to grow out of them in a week, I kind of stopped caring about what they looked like. But lately, since he has levelled out a little on the non-stop growing, I have begun to ponder what it would take to make all of his clothes. I have the raw materials in abundance but I still don’t want to spend a lot of time on something that won’t be very useful for long. I take back that last sentence—I would love to spend a lot of time making beautiful clothes for my son, I just don’t have a lot of free time, so I wonder if making them would be the best use of that precious time. I could just buy something cheap??? Ugh.
Enter my currently thought obsession: growing clothes. Ok, here it the question I have been asking myself: can I make clothes for my son that I can easily alter as he grows? I have been going over different design elements in my head for a few weeks now and last weekend we were playing with blocks when I noticed that his current clothes were creeping up on his big baby belly and his pants were really stretching across his baby thighs when he sat down. If I didn’t want to buy more baby fast fashion, those growing baby clothes needed to be made STAT. First up, pants.
So, here is my first idea actualised and I have to say, I am pretty impressed! (Haha, I’m so modest!) I am impressed for a few reasons but mainly because a) I have very little experience with garment sewing b) the measurements I used for these pants were very loose and not done using pattern drafting knowledge or know how and c) I always expect there to be big issues the first go-around when I am messing around with a new idea.
I created a template from a pair of pants he already had but were too big. I folded these too large pants in half and laid them on a piece of paper to trace. To add ease for the elastic waistband, I drew the pants pattern straight up from the crotch to and extended line from the waist. I was a little unsure of this method since this would make the pattern flat on both the front and the back (and the baby is not flat) but I had a hunch that adding elastic and pleats would fix this. Next, I cut out the pattern and placed it on a folded piece of fabric (to get a front and back that are identical and symmetrical). Before I started sewing, I decided to double up the fabric because it is pretty cold here in Ireland at the moment and the summers aren’t too warm either. Since my little guy is always crawling around on tile indoors and the cold ground outdoors, I thought any warmth I could add to these pants would be worth the trouble. I used some cotton fabric I have been meaning to overdye. It wasn’t scrap fabric but it has a spotty dye job and I thought I was making a mock-up pair of pants so I used it. This didn’t end up being the case (update: they are already being worn most days so def not a mock up!) and now I wish I had used better fabric but I know he is going to get them dirty thirty seconds after he puts them on (update: HE DID!) so I’m not stressed about this.
To make the pants I first turned the top and bottom edges under and sewed these. Next, I sewed both sides of the pants with fronts facing. I didn’t do any fancy seams in the inside (French or serged), because I thought this would be a mock up, but for the next pair I will probably finish the seams with French seams because my serger is in a box on another continent.
To create the waist shaping, I cut the elastic out of an old pair of the baby’s pants and sewed it stretched across the back half of my improv baby pants. For the front, I made a folded pleat, one on each side and added two small ties (made with a one inch tube I sewed in half and turned inside out) and sewed these into the pleats. The idea with my pleating/half elastic was to take out the pleats as he grows and adjust the waist size, restitching the pleats to suit his growing body.
And finally, for the pant length, I made them a couple inches longer than need be and added four appliqued rectangles to hold the cuffs in place.
We will see how it goes but so far so good! I made these pants out of 100% cotton so I think next time I will use a jersey because it is more flexible and when we are using a baby carrier, it is more comfortable for him.