Sunday, August 22, 2010

Popover Dresses

I made up these Oliver and S popover dresses this week for a first birthday present. The pattern is wonderful- super easy and free, can't beat that! But the smallest size on the pattern is a 2, which I'm gathering is a 2T from what I've read about the pattern online. I don't have any small children around to measure and I honestly have no concept of how big a one year old is. It's hard to picture! So I attempted completely altering the pattern to fit a one year old. I think my method was right in theory but it only ended up working out because of a lot of trial error.

I read somewhere online (I apologize I can't remember where) about sliding the pattern pieces and retracing the curves to resize. I know this is not the proper way to do it, especially on more complicated patterns, but since this pattern basically only two pieces and some bias binding I figured this method would work. But where to find the average chest width of a one year old? I won't tell you all the strange body part measurements that turned up when I typed that in to a search engine.

French seams! Ooh la la.

I searched for a long time until somewhere I read that the average chest width of a one year was 18 inches. The chest width on the pattern size 2 is 22.5 inches. So I estimated that if I took one inch off the side, that would take off 4 inches total. Sounds logical, right? I slid the pattern pieces over and retraced about one inch in. I wasn't being completely precise about it because I figured the style of pattern probably had enough ease to fit anyway. I guesstimated a little on the top, keeping the curve. I also took off 5 inches of length because that was the difference in height of a one year old and a size 2T. I used my resized pattern pieces and cut the light pink dress and the yellow one at the same time. I sewed the light pink one first and when I was done I held it up-- and it was tiny! I knew it would be too small.

I went back to the drawing board and did some more research. I had the bright idea to look at measurements of clothing sizes on Gymboree instead of randomly searching online. They list the average chest width of a 12 month old as 19.5 inches- big difference! So I retraced the pattern again. This time adjusting the measurements to end up fitting 19.5 inches, being a little more generous than before, and also adding a little more length because the light pink one look short. I made the bright pink one from the larger adjustment. It looked right to me.

I still had the pieces for the yellow dress already cut out from before, so I decided to go ahead and sew it up. I sewed all the seam allowances as small as I could to make it a bit larger. In the end, I ended giving the yellow dress and bright pink dress as the gift. I'm interested to find out which one fits! I also have a lucky coworker with an adorable six month old that's going to get the little pink one.

So these were my adventures in resizing a child's pattern! I'd love to get my hands on a copy of The Perfect Fit and learn about resizing for real. All in all, I enjoyed the pattern. It was simple and quick and a great way to use smaller pieces of leftover fabric.


  1. They look adorable! I would probably have just narrowed from the middle of the pattern, shortened the length and called it good. When grading down a multisize pattern you can sometimes use the amounts between each size to estimate the next size down (there's a burdastyle tutorial on it, actually). The nice thing with sewing for kids, though, is that they grow, so as long as it's not too small it'll fit at some point. Did I mention they're adorable dresses? :)

  2. Laura,
    I love the blog! Its such a great combination of craft, creativity and even simple living thrown in. I'll be reading!