Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sewing for Children Sizing Tips

This information is effective for Kwik Sew, but may not work for the Big 4 (Simplicity, Vogue, Butterick and McCalls--especially McCalls), which suffer from inconsistent sizing.  Some of the older Simplicity children's patterns also have consistent sizing similar to KS and this may work for them.

Sizing is confusing and even more so when sewing for children.  Kids grow in girth until they suddenly shoot up in height (aka growth spurt).  When they experience a vertical growth spurt, they may actually shrink in girth at the same time!  It's unrealistic to expect children's patterns to work right out of the envelope for all children all the time.

Take a look at the CDC Growth Charts for children.  I took a screen shot of the part of the one for girls with lines for [95, 90, 75, 50, 25, 10, 5] percentiles lines.  90% of 8 year old girls fall within the range of 46 to 54 inches.  Even if you sew the for the median, 50 inches, a great deal of children will end up with too long or too short sleeves and pant legs!


Kwik Sew sizing correlates well with the CDC median children's sizes.  For instance, if your child is tall for their age, draw a line at their height, and then look across to see where their height intersects with the 50th percentile line for another age.  Use that age/size as your baseline size for length.

Measure your child in girth and compare that to the measurements on the KS sizing chart.  Use the size that corresponds most closely with your child's girth as the baseline girth size, and add or subtract length based your baseline length size.  KS patterns are nested, so trace out your pattern, drawing new length/hem lines as necessary.

For example, Iris' 8 year olds cousin is in the 95th percentile for height.  I look across and see that puts her near the median for 10 year olds.  Her weight for height is about average, so I can sew a girls' size 10 for her and expect it to fit.

Iris is slim and tall for her age.  I usually sew the pattern size for her age or one smaller, but use the length for 1 size/age larger.

If you don't have access to the child (i. e. the child doesn't live with you), asking the parents what size the kids wear in RTW may not be useful.  RTW sizing varies all over the place.  Many people don't own tape measures or can't measure squirmy children accurately.

Ask the parents how their kids compare to the CDC growth charts at their annual physicals.  Kids tend to remain close to a percentile (in height for age) throughout their childhood.  Then consider their girth for height.

Burda and many European patterns go by children's height, not age.  The sizes fit average weight children in Europe, but American children may be a bit heavier on average.  They fit my slim Eurasian child well, but YMMV.

Lastly, check pattern measurements against something that currently fits the child (or is a bit too small/large) and adjust accordingly.  I call this benchmarking.  ;-)

If you are sewing remotely, ask the parents to email you photos of the child wearing the item to check the overall fit.  

1 comment:

  1. Both my kids were taller than the average, so I pretended they were still 10 and your advice works. Measuring the inseam of pants that fit works for me. I also do a deep hem so it can be let down if necessary.

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