This post originally appeared at Get Your Crap Together in September 2013. With fall and winter sewing well underway, this is a great time to revisit some of these tips for sewing outerwear!I’m so excited that Chelsea invited me to share some tips and ideas for sewing children’s outerwear. Honestly, outerwear just might be my favorite thing to sew for little ones. As moms of little ones, our days are full! When I’m able to carve out a few spare minutes to sew for my children, I want to spend that time sewing something that will get a lot of use! I want to see the finished work of my hands be enjoyed over and over again. Outerwear accomplishes that goal so well!
Think about it. If you sew a shirt or a pair of pants, they get worn once and tossed in the wash. We don’t treat jackets or hoodies that way at all. We throw a jacket on our child as we head out the door, then hang it up to be worn the next day when we get home. Isn’t that cool?My family and I live in Florida, so I tend to make mostly lighter-weight outerwear that for those of you up north would work best for fall or spring or for layering in the winter. Since Chelsea is working on fall wardrobes for her littles, that’s what I’m going to share today. (You can definitely sew coats for colder climates, just do your research and make sure that you’re using the best materials. Also, as I’m a bit of a stickler for car-seat safety, please don’t ever put your child in a car-seat wearing a heavy coat! A poncho that you can pull on after your child is buckled securely is a great choice, though.)
There are some wonderful independent designer patterns available for boys and girls. I really recommend working with independent designers — I’m all about supporting small businesses, and it’s an amazing thing to be able to contact the designer if you get hung up somewhere! Since I design patterns myself, those are the ones that I’m featuring here. The hoodie pattern is my Charlie Tee and Hoodie and the Which Way Out Jacket is the zip-up jacket. The poncho is one that has yet to be released.
When choosing a pattern, keep your personal needs and tastes in mind, of course, but be sure to look for those things that make a jacket practical! Pockets are really a necessity, and a hood is great for keeping little ears warm without having to keep track of a hat.
I mentioned already that I love the amount of use that you get from outerwear, but you get even more bang for your buck if you choose a pattern that is reversible like my Which Way Out Jacket! It’s so cool to have a piece of clothing that is fun and playful on one side while it’s dressy and a bit more reserved on the other. It can be a huge blessing, too, when chocolate ice cream happens to drip down one side, and you can just wipe it off and flip it over!Once you have your pattern chosen, you need to decide on the fabric that you’ll use, and there are so many choices!The poncho at the top of this post is sewn with Cuddle Fabric, commonly referred to as Minky. Minky is a polyester fabric that is very warm and fairly heavy, and it has a teeny, tiny bit of stretch. The WWO Jacket just above this paragraph is sewn with cotton flannel on the inside and PUL (polyurethane laminate) on the outside. PUL is a polyester fabric that has a laminate fused to the wrong side. It’s commonly used by cloth diaper makers, and is completely waterproof. It makes a perfect rain coat or windbreaker!
The hoodie above is a great lightweight choice sewn with cotton stretch jersey. Other t-shirt knits are good choices for that little extra layer when the air is just a bit crisp, too. Cotton interlock tends to be my personal go-to since it’s a bit thicker than jersey but not sweatshirt-heavy.The hoodie above is sewn with cotton french terry. French terry has a right side that is smooth and a wrong side with little loops on it. You can find it in 100% cotton and in a cotton/spandex blend, usually referred to as stretch french terry. The first has a little bit of stretch, while the second has a good amount of stretch and recovery. French terry is heavier than the other knits mentioned above, but not quite as heavy as sweatshirt fleece. It’s a perfect choice for a hoodie for fall or spring . . . or winter if you live in my neighborhood!
The hoodie below is made with cotton sweatshirt fleece. This is the traditional hooded sweatshirt fabric, smooth on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Sweatshirt fleece is generally 100% cotton, and does not have much stretch to it. That makes it easier to sew, but sometimes harder to pull over the head! (A little tip if you’re sewing a traditional hoodie for a child with a larger than average head, cut your hood slightly taller — about 1/4″ — than the pattern calls for, and then increase your seam allowance by about 1/8″ of an inch when sewing in the hood. You’ll be amazed at the difference that little bit makes!)Other good fabric choices for outerwear include cotton quilting fabrics — the reversible cars/houndstooth jacket above is sewn with two layers of quilters cotton, flannel — flannel is a great choice for lining a double-layer jacket, and polyester fleece is another good choice — it comes in tons of colors and prints!
I think many of us look at outerwear as being more difficult or more complicated to sew than other clothing, but it’s really not! There are sometimes a few more steps involved, but I think the extra time is worth the end result. Choose fabrics and a pattern that you love, and go for it. Chances are, you’ll be smiling all season, every time you see your hard work put to use!