How to Draft Your Own Baby or Toddler Tee Pattern (From Existing Clothes)

Here at Stitches & Sunflowers I’m all about sewing to save money. One way to do this is to make your own patterns. This tutorial will teach you how to make a tee shirt pattern for your baby or toddler. This pattern is super simple to make, so it’s a good way to start making your own patterns. Making a tee shirt pattern is very forgiving since the fabric is stretchy and the fit doesn’t have to be exact (especially for a small kid).I think you’ll find that the precision and ease it gives you when sewing multiple (or even just one!) tee shirts makes the extra step of tracing a pattern onto paper well worth it.

You’ll Need:

  • Paper. I use medical exam table paper or the extra end of a newspaper roll (which you can buy from the local newspaper). You could make do with anything.
  • A tee shirt in the size you want to make
  • A pencil and a ruler (a clear ruler is really helpful for ALL sewing projects, but especially pattern making)

First you’re going to “trace” the sleeve.
  • Lay your tee shirt out on top of a piece of paper. Make sure you are using a flat surface underneath.
  • Start at the top of where the shoulder meets the body of the shirt. Trace down the top fold of the sleeve. Do the same thing from the armpit to the hem.

+ Note: In this picture I am using a onesie, but I found that an actual tee shirt makes a more accurate pattern which is why a tee shirt is shown in the supplies above.

  • Then you’ll use a straight line to make the hem by connecting the two “corners.”
  • Connect the corners at the top of the sleeve using a curve like you normally see on sleeve patterns. You can also use my photo as a reference.

  • Fold your pattern in half perpendicular to your hem line and cut out your arm pattern on the fold (like you are cutting out a heart). This makes a sleeve pattern you don’t have to cut on a fold. Be careful to not make your sleeve too big at this point. If you’re worried about the fit, just leave the sleeve pattern the way it is and cut out the sleeves on a fold.

Next, make the body piece of the tee shirt pattern.

You do this basically the same way you made the sleeve, there are just a few more lines to trace.

  • I start by tracing the shoulder seams, the side seams, and the hem.
  • Then use your ruler to straighten out the hem and the shoulder seams
  • Connect the armpit edge and the shoulder edge with a curved line on each side, as shown.
  • Connect the neck hole edges with a curved line to make the neck hole.

If you want your front and back pieces to be identical, you can cut two from this piece. Alternatively, you can trace your front piece and change the neckline to make your back piece.

Making the Neckband:

You can make a pattern piece for your neckband if you’d like. I just like to measure and cut a strip of fabric when I’m cutting out my fabric. You find out how long to make your neckband by measuring around the neck hole with your measuring tape. Add about a half inch for seam allowance (or larger, if you prefer). I usually make neckbands for little ones between 1 and 1 1/2 inches wide.

Draft Your Own Baby or Toddler Tee Shirt Pattern / stitchesandsunflowers.com

Now, add your seam allowance.

I like to use 3/8 inch seam allowance on baby tee shirts. You can use whatever you prefer.

  • Measure and mark 3/8 inch away from your pattern line all around each curve.
  • Carefully connect the marks, making a new curved line.
  • Mark the straight lines 3/8 away from your pattern edge as well.

Your pattern is finished!

If you used any paper other than tissue paper or medical exam paper you should cut out your pattern with paper scissors before you pin it to your fabric.

Don’t let pattern-making scare you away! Try this forgiving tee shirt pattern and make some tee shirts for your baby (or any kid, really). I have a tutorial for how to sew up this tee shirt here, along with a free pattern in 12 month size. If you want to add a pocket to your tee shirt there is a tutorial here with a free pattern for older babies/toddlers.

If you are looking for a more precise way to copy patterns, I am intrigued by this technique that uses pins or this technique that uses tape.

Love, Jess

Finish Seams without a Serger: Bias Bound Seam

For those of us who don’t have access to a serger, it can be frustrating to sew professional apparel without having straggly, fraying seams after a few washes. That’s why I’m giving you tutorials for my favorite and most versatile serger-free seam finishes! So far in this series we have covered French seams, false French seamsclean finishes, and zig-zag finishes. The last seam finish I want to teach you is a bias bound seam.

Bias Bound Seam

A bias bound seam is a very professional seam finish that leaves no raw edges and can be done without a serger. You might even notice it in high quality ready-to-wear garments (Can you tell I’m a sewing nerd that likes to examine the inside of clothes?). This technique encases the seam allowance in bias binding, covering all the raw edges so that your seams are beautiful!!

Using bias binding takes some practice and patience (I’m still working on it), but it’s so worth it! Unlike the French seam, false French seam, and clean finish it can be used on curves such as the edge of a facing or the armhole seam.

Tutorial:

I recommend that you practice all seam finishes on a few scrap rectangles before you sew them onto a project. It might be a good idea to practice this one a little more if you are not familiar with using bias binding.

Step One:

Sew a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Step Two:

Trim your seam to the desired length. I chose to trim mine a little smaller, but not quite hide the seam stitches. You may choose to trim it so that you cover your stitching from the seam (an example of this is here) or you might want to keep your whole seam allowance.

Step Four:

Now you are going to attach your bias binding. Encase the raw edges of your seam with the binding, using pins to keep everything in place. You can also finish your seams separately if you need to press the seam open.

Using a stitch length of four, slowly and carefully topstitch the bias binding in place, being careful to catch the fold on the opposite side of your seam.

Step Five:

Your seam is finished! Press it to one side as directed in your pattern instructions.

If you get frustrated with this particular seam, don’t give up! Bias binding is one of the most difficult sewing techniques for me. The more I use bias binding and carefully practice, the better I become. Have patience with yourself and you will improve.

Love, Jess

 

 

DIY Baby Booties

When L was a few months old my mother-in-law bought him some magical fleece baby booties that STAYED on his feet! Even when he was three months old those twelve month size shoes would stay on his feet, due to the ankle elastic and handy adjustable snaps.

He recently lost one bootie, so I set out on  a quest to make more. My first attempt at copying the baby shoes left a lot wanting. They were baggy and the fit of the pattern wasn’t as snug, allowing them to fall off.

I played with my pattern a little, and came up with a way for you (and me!) to make your own magic stay-on-those-feet baby booties. These booties were made a bit bigger than the store-bought 12 month size so that they would fit L for longer. I’d say they are between a 3 and a 4 shoe size.

Download the pattern here. Make sure you get all three pages.

Materials:

Thick and warm outer fabric (I have used recycled sweater and felted wool. Fleece would also work)

Thinner inner fabric  (tee shirt scraps, thin flannel)

Elastic (two pieces cut 7 1/2 inches long)

Snaps or Velcro

Step One

Cut out your fabric. You will need two pieces of each piece in outer fabric and two of inner fabric.

DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial.

Step Two

With right sides together, serge the inner fabric to the outer fabric. Do this with all the pieces except the sole piece.

DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial.

Step Three

Sew the elastic onto the heel piece, tacking it down on each end.

DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial.     DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial.

Step Four

Flip the heel pieces right side out and topstitch over the ends to keep the elastic in place. Topstitch two parallel lines on either side of the elastic to form a casing

DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial.    DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial.

Step Five

Flip the rest of the pieces right side out and press. Serge the bottom/raw edge off all the pieces and serge around the edge of the heel lining piece. This will make sure there are no raw edges once you sew everything together. *If you have a really fabulous serger that’s can sew through really thick fabric, or if you’re using thin fabric you should skip this step and serge the pieces together in the next step.

Step Six

Pin the center of the heel piece to the heel of the sole outer and inner, with the outer piece sandwiched in the middle. It’s important that you do the heel first! If you are using leather, hand stitch with embroidery thread and a backstitch. If you aren’t using leather, go ahead and use your machine to sew it.

DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial.   DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial.

Step Seven

Pin the toe piece around the toe and either hand or machine stitch.

DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial.

Step Eight

Flip your baby bootie right side out. Add the snaps or the velcro. If you are making adjustable snaps, put multiple snaps on the bottom strap and one on the top, so only one snap shows when your baby wears the booties.

DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial. | stitchesandsunflowers.comDIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial. | stitchesandsunflowers.com

DIY Baby Snap Booties-- Sew your own 12 month baby shoes that don't fall off. Free pattern and tutorial. | stitchesandsunflowers.com

Note: Make sure that you keep tabs of which side is the right side of the heel piece, otherwise you’ll end up with booties that aren’t a mirror image of each other like me… oops!

Enjoy your beautiful baby shoes that don’t fall off little feet! If you don’t want to DIY here is a link to buy them.

Also, stay tuned for patterns of different sizes!

Love, Jess