How to Make Kids' Clothes: Clever DIY Tips

Kate Miller-Wilson
Repairing daughter's skirt

Making kids clothing is a wonderful way to create adorable, one-of-a-kind looks that won't break the bank. Tons of great patterns are on the market, but it helps to have some extra tips to make your projects successful. With a little time, some awesome fabrics, and some sewing know-how, you can be the one to make those favorite skirts, dresses, and outfits.

Start With Kid-Friendly Fabrics

Sure, velvet and silk look amazing for a little girl's dress, but they aren't exactly kid-friendly. Even if you're making heirloom clothing or formal attire, it's important to keep washing and general durability in mind. If you're making play clothes, this is even more important. Comfort is a factor too. Consider the following fabrics when you start your project:

  • Knits
  • Corduroy
  • Denim
  • Washable velveteen or stretch velvet
  • Quilting cottons
  • Seersucker
  • Wrinkle-free blends
  • Fire-retardant materials for sleepwear

Don't Forget the Fun Prints

fun dress print

The great thing about making kids clothes is experimenting with playful fabrics. Once you've considered durability and comfort of the materials, you get to have some fun. Look for bright cotton prints with everything from unicorns to cherries. Choose vibrant colors for solids. You can even mix prints in ways you might not do with adult clothing.

Measure Active Children Twice

Measuring a child can be a challenge. They tend to move more than adults, and this can throw off your numbers.

  1. Choose a time when the child is calm and quiet, such as right after a nap.
  2. Use a distraction like a favorite book or television show to help make the process go smoothly.
  3. Then measure a second time to check your work.

If you find any discrepancies in your numbers due to movement, get out the tape measure a third time.

Create Patterns From Existing Clothes

There are hundreds of amazing designs out there, so there's no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a style. However, you can make your own patterns by taking apart your child's existing clothing that fits him well. If a child has something with fairly simple lines, you can use a seam ripper to disassemble the piece. If you're going to try this, choose clothing that isn't lined and doesn't have a lot of complicated seams. Use the following process:

  1. Turn the clothing item inside out. Examine how it was constructed, identifying which seams were completed first. Use a dressmaker's pencil to label the garment on the inside, noting how the seams join.
  2. Use a seam ripper to take the seams out in the reverse order, opening the newest seams first and the oldest last. Take photos as you do this so you can remember how to reconstruct the piece.
  3. Lay each piece out on a sheet of pattern paper and carefully trace around it. Make note of the seam allowance and other factors, such as zippers.
  4. Carefully reassemble the original garment and use the pattern to construct your own version of it.

Bring on the Embellishments

embellished dress with buttons and flower

Just as you can have more fun in your fabric choices, you can go crazy with embellishments too. Try some of these ideas:

  • Add trims and piping.
  • Appliqué an animal-shaped pocket to a shirt or skirt.
  • Choose interesting buttons.
  • Make a fabric flower to attach to a skirt or dress.
  • Add interactive elements like a vehicle or animal attached to a string.

Choose a Personalized Theme

Adult clothing is about function and sophistication, but once you know how to make kids clothes, you realize these garments are all about fun. Think about what interests the child who will be wearing it. Then add those elements into your design, and you'll guarantee that you are creating a garment that will be adored. Try these ideas:

  • Make a cat-themed sundress with a tail appliquéd on the back and kitty face and ears for the bodice.
  • Try a train-themed vest. Use a simple vest pattern, but appliqué or embroider a track in a crazy route. Add a train attached to a string.
  • For a child who loves princesses, modify a standard skirt to have gathered pull-up areas and plenty of ruffles.
  • Appliqué simple, bright-colored fish to any blue garment for an instant ocean-themed outfit.

The Key Element Is Fun

Making custom kids clothing is a fun way to show your love for a special child. It's also wonderful for helping kids show off their personal style and letting you exercise your creativity at the same time. Remember, the key element in any great handmade kids outfit is fun!

How to Make Kids' Clothes: Clever DIY Tips