I’ve always been reluctant to sew children’s clothes. So small and fiddly! They grow out of them so fast! And (in the UK at least) kids’ clothes are very good value for money in the shops so it isn’t remotely economical to make your own.
But…My little boy has a really nice top made out of soft shell. It has raglan sleeves and a neckline zip so it’s easy to get on and off. It’s one of his favourite things to wear. He’s also almost grown out of it and I haven’t been able to find a similar replacement. And it looked fairly easy to make – five pieces and a zip – so I decided to try to reproduce it.
My first try was to trace the original top to make a pattern. That went fine. And then I realised that I’d just traced a garment that was too small when the whole point was to make a bigger version. Unsure how to grade it up I went looking through my Burda stash and came up with Burda 138 03/2014, a raglan sleeved t shirt pattern for toddlers.
Burda say this is a girl’s top, but I can’t see anything remotely gendered about it.
I traced it out one size bigger than my son’s current size because I wanted it to work as an outer layer with a t shirt worn underneath. I then made a collar pattern piece to fit the Burda neckline, copying the approximate shape of the one I’d traced from the original garment.
I made the new pattern up in the leftovers from my husband’s green fleece hoodie to test it. The zip was a lucky find in my stash; it was too heavy for the project I bought it for but it was ok for the fleece. It could have done with being a little longer though.
Here’s the back view. It turned out really well; it fits with a bit of growing room, and my little boy likes to wear it. It’s not perfect. I tried to flatlock the hem and it’s slightly uneven; also I didn’t do a perfect job on the zip and collar. You have to look super close to see though. And it sewed up fast: I put it together in about 90 minutes.
So I forged ahead with the real thing, made in bright red soft shell from Empress Mills with a matching red zip. This time I bought an extra long zip and cut it off at a few cm longer than the intended finished length. Instead of trying to recreate a zip stop I laid the end of the zip opening on top of the zip teeth so the zip continues below the end of the opening, and top-stitched right over the teeth. The original top is constructed like this. Obviously I made sure it was a plastic zip rather than a metal one first, but I still broke a needle in the process.
And it looks nice but it’s a very different garment than the green one! The soft shell I used for the red version is quite heavyweight; it’s really a coating fabric. This is more something for wearing to the park than around the house.
The red fabric is lovely and bright and it top-stitches beautifully. I did a top-stitched hem because wonky flat locking would have stood out a mile on this fabric and you can’t unpick because the needle leaves permanent holes. Getting around those tiny sleeve hems on the machine was tricky though. I’d use this fabric again for a coat, but not a sweater.
I’m quite tempted to make a third one of these in a cute snowflake print fleece I’ve seen online. Or there are lots of other child friendly fleece prints out there. I won’t be going into sewing children’s clothes regularly though!
16 thoughts on “Burda 138 03/2014 toddler top”
These look great! And this is exactly the kind of sewing I like to do for my daughter. Practical. Fast. I didn’t think I would be interested in sewing for her, either, but I have one leggings pattern and one t-shirt pattern that I have made for her over and over and over because it is so quick and I can use fabrics that are superior to what I could afford to buy in ready-made.
Both versions look great and the red one will let you find your son quickly in a group of children. I agree that the cost and variety of children’s clothes available support buying rather than sewing. But sewing, comes in handy when you have a tall slender child (he is now 6’5″) and no store bought pants are long enough. I believe you are fairly tall, so your son may be also. I especially liked the Burda children’s patterns. They had realistic ease and better styles compared to the big 4, which seemed to be designed for chubby kids.
Thanks! Yes, he is already showing signs of tallness. We have some very clever trousers from Mothercare with buttons and buttonhole elastic in the waist so you can tighten or loosen them, but I should definitely try making him some. Burda have some nice simple ones
Your toddler shirts look great. I am always afraid that the toddler clothing I want to sew will be too small by the time I get it finished. Toddlers grow so fast. And forget about trying to get them to stand still to make sure something will fit. Good idea to use an already sewn garment for sizing and to leave in a little growing room. 🙂
Thanks! Heh, I didn’t even try to fit anything on him as I am sure you are right about the not standing still
I love them both… great colours. It does take a while to make kids clothes and they do grown out of them fast. I made jackets for our two, similar shape as these but with a zip up the front. They wore them to death.. but I still manage to put them away when they grew out of them. They were so cute. I’m sure your’s looks very handsome in his new clothes!
Thanks! The jacket idea sounds lovely; I might give that a try for the next one
I only sewed a few things when mine were little – I also felt that they grew out of stuff too quickly to put a lot of effort in! Your tops look cosy and practical!
They look excellent – and I’m sure he will promise not to grow for a little while 😉
I love it! I never sew for the little guy either… except pjs and halloween costumes!
Looks nice, glad it worked.
Be aware though, that boys and girls do have different proportions. A typical female shoulder width is proportionately smaller than a male’s shoulder width. Men also tend to be about 8 head shots tall, while women are only 7 heads tall. Muscle mass is different as well, as is hip and torso structure. I don’t remember all the relevant details, nor do I recall exactly when the differences become more pronounced… baby clothes do appear to be identical. Not sure if there is much difference between the sexes during the toddler stage. BUT, I was asked to make costumes for a nativity play, and adjusted some girls patterns I had. (Boys were between 5 and 13) Even though I thought I’d added enough in the shoulder area, they were reportedly VERY difficult to get into.
There are a few back issues of Burda that are worth getting, very boy-centric. They seem to average one issue a year with boys clothing.
Thanks! Something to bear in mind as he gets older 🙂
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