Pattern Mod to Make a Toddler Shirt That is Actually Cute

  I’ve been telling you I’ve been working on another project from the same pattern G’s hat was made from, and today you get to see it!

“Woohoo!  COWBOYS!”
  Okay, full disclosure…that is NOT the shirt the pattern makes.  Check it out.
There’s a reason he’s wearing that coat and tie…
  Notice how this cutie isn’t really showing us the shirt…at all?  That’s because the shirt this pattern makes is incredibly dopey looking.  The collar is like something out of a bad movie from the 70’s (notice they’ve got it tucked under his coat so you can’t see it?).  The front closure leaves a huge gap if you button it all the way to the top (not that I usually do, but I’d like to be ABLE to).  The sleeves make the whole thing look like a pj top instead of a dress shirt and the excess fabric at the bottom of the shirt just makes it look like a too short swing dress instead of something Daddy might wear, made in miniature.
  So I modified the penny* out of the pattern.  Don’t worry, I’m going to take you through, step by step so you can do it too.
*I’ll talk about what this means tomorrow.
  G’s current measurements are as follows:
        Shoulder width ~10″
        Back Length ~13″
        Waist ~18″
        Arm Length ~12.5″
  (all measurements are approximate because he wiggles…don’t worry about being too exact,     
      toddlers grow too fast for it to be that big a deal!)
  The pattern sizes range from 1/2 to 4.  G is 19 months, so I assumed he’d be a 1 or a 2.  According to the measurements on the envelope (by his waist) he’s too small to fit into any of the sizes.  I decided to ignore the sizes on the envelope and base my decision on his shoulder width (it’s easy to adjust a pattern to make it smaller at the waist!).
  I cut my shoulder width measurement (10″) in half (the pattern piece is cut on the fold) and added 3/8″ for seam allowance.  I was looking for the piece that was closest to a shoulder width of 5 3/8″.  In this case that was a size 1.
  So I had the basic size I wanted to work with.  I sew a LOT, and I had pattern making classes in college, so looking at the pattern pieces, I already could see I was going to want to do some modifications.  Little did I know how MANY I was going to do before I was done!
  Please note, I would make all the alterations to your paper pattern
 before you even think about cutting fabric!!
The portion I removed is shown in red
  I started by straightening out the side seam of the shirt.  The pattern has a seam that flares out at the bottom, and while G definitely has a sweet little toddler-sized Budda belly, he does not, in fact, have a belly the size of the Budda.  He did NOT need an extra 2 inches on either side of his shirt.  To do this modification I simply measured across the piece at the bottom corner of the armhole then measured across the bottom of the piece to this same distance and drew a straight line.
  Make sure you do this to your front and back pieces or your pattern will not line up correctly!
  Now, I’m going to skip forward a little bit in the process…I had a lot of trial and error (and swearing) that happened between this and getting to pattern pieces that work.  I’m going to (hopefully) spare you that pain.
  There are a couple of things that caused BIG problems for me.  The first was that there are a couple of seams that the pattern wants you to sew at 5/8″ instead of 3/8″ like you do the rest of them.  I’m busy, I’m distracted, and I’m usually sewing with my fingers crossed that the baby isn’t going to wake up from his nap and start howling at any second.  Make all your seams the same allowance or I WILL screw it up.  And then I’ll yell.  And that wakes up the baby.
  For my pattern pieces I just modified those seams to all be 3/8″.  You can do the same by subtracting 1/4″ off of the inside edge of the front piece and along the shoulder seam (both front and back pieces, so it lines up correctly)
“WAIT a minute, that looks like 2 modifications”
  Alright…so the darker portion is the 1/4″ we were taking off to make the seam allowance 3/8″.  The lighter portion is one of the things that caused me many, many headaches.  If I’d have been thinking, I would have noticed it, but, as we mentioned, distracted, busy, flakey…blah blah blah.
  When you make a placket (the fancy name for where buttons and button holes meet up) your buttons wind up on the center front.  In this picture, the center front is the dotted line next to the arrow.  Look how much extra space they want us to leave outside the buttons!  The dark line in the middle of the red and pink bars is where the edge of your fabric would be.  Just dopey looking!  So I took off another 3/8″ (for a total of 5/8″ in all from the original edge) and rounded the corner, just because I think it looks nicer than a sharp one.
  So once you’ve straightened the side seams out, removed 5/8″ from the center edge, rounded the top corner (if you want to) and removed 1/4″ from the shoulder seams you’ve fixed your front pieces.  I won’t make you do anything else to it, I promise.
  Next, you need to modify your facing.  All the facing does is make sure you have a nice, clean edge on your placket and the portion of the neckline that won’t be lined by the collar.  The facing needs to match the piece it will be sewn to exactly, so we have to modify it just like we did the front piece.  5’8″ from the center edge and rounding that corner.  Interestingly (and probably a mistake in their pattern making) the shoulder seam on the facing piece is already 3/8″, so we don’t need to alter it.
Second piece, done!
  Next we’ll do the back piece.  If you’ve been doing it as we’ve gone along, you’re already finished.  Double check to make sure you’ve done all these alterations: 1/4″ subtracted from the shoulder seam and side seam straightened out.
Optional, shown in green, curve bottom hem to size 2 in center
  Three pieces down, we’re on a roll!
  Now we get to that collar.  Oh man did the collar upset me.  Because of the shoulder seams being sewn wrong (because I sewed them at 3/8″, not 5/8″ the first time) it wouldn’t line up properly…then when it did, there was a huge gap in the front (because of the extra fabric at the placket we modified).  I finally got all of that fixed…and the collar itself was hideous.  
  If you go back to the picture of our dapper little young man on the pattern, take a look at the collar on his coat.  …it’s the same collar they have us putting on this shirt.  It works for outerwear, especially if you turn back the corners of the first button like that…but on a dress shirt?  Not unless your kiddo is going as John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever for Halloween.  I chopped a full inch off of mine.
  Alright, front done, back done, facing done and collar done.  All that’s left is the sleeves.  I’d mentioned earlier that the way they’re finished in the pattern makes the whole piece look like a pajama top.  Part of the reason for this with my shirt is the fabric I’ve chosen.  Picking a cotton with retro cowboys on their horses prancing around does lend an air of 1950’s slumber sets, but, I figure, there’s only so long G is going to be able to get away with wearing incredibly loud prints before it stops being “cute” and starts being “weird”.
  To combat the “pajama” look I decided to add a cuff to the sleeve.  I used a shirt G already has (from the store) to get an idea of the size cuff I wanted.  I decided I wanted a cuff 1.5″ x 8″ and made this piece: 
Don’t forget to add 3/8″ for seam allowance!
  So because I’m adding on a cuff, I’ve got to take some length off the sleeves….unless your kid has super long monkey-arms.  In which case, I’m sorry.  God-speed to you, trying to keep anything out of their reach. 
  If we look at our measurements above, G’s arms are about 12.5″ long.  We’re adding a 1.5″ cuff to the sleeve, so we have a remaining 11 inches of arm to cover.  If you want your sleeve to be the “right” length, you would measure 11 inches from the top of the sleeve piece, and then add on 3/8″ for where the cuff will attach.  I like to make G’s sleeves just a touch short so they don’t get in his way or drag in all his food, so I actually made mine 10 3/4″.
  All your pattern pieces are modified!  Simply follow the directions for sewing that come with the pattern.  For the cuff modification you can follow steps 9 and 10 for coat A (will yield a permanently shut cuff) or comment and I can tell you how I did mine.
  But, my little cowboy is up from his nap and is looking to play, so I have to run!
  Good luck with your modifications and please send me pictures if you decide to use this tutorial!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s