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Children's Wear: An overview

Since starting out "on my own" in January 2019, I have recently taken account that most of my Brand clients design and sell children's wear. I have worked in fashion since 1999 during my final year of college, and have been freelancing since 2013. In the past couple of decades, children's wear specifically has changed and advanced so much and it seems that it's an area where most designers and possibly home-sewers would like more advice on. Although I have a lot of experience in the make and fit of children's clothing, I am by no means an expert but I have had the privilege of sewing clothes for my son and my daughter as they have grown, changed and matured (still a work in progress!)

Children's Styling:

Children's wear used to be more sentimental and child-like, but since we have entered the naughties there has been more demand for children's wear to have an adult-slant, a more "mini me" feel to it. Nowadays children do seem want to be more independent, more grown-up, and I am not sure if this is a result of more mature clothing or if the design trend resulted from their more mature attidudes. Regardless of which way it has advanced, children want to look trendy but still be kids. My two at least, have always been active, so comfort and movement is a must-have in their clothes. As they have aged, they have also been more conscious of trends and brands. Boys wear seems to get more limited in range as boys age, but this is a trend which my son has followed. I used to dress him up and style him when we went out, but his choice now in his mid-teens is very brand related with only a few basics in limited colours.

Girls on the other hand want to be dressed in the latest trends, so I tend to make a lot of my daughter's clothes, and make them often! Many of my daughters friends like to have a vast wardrobe of the latest colours, seasons and styles. One good thing though with my daughter being into sports is that t-shirts and shorts are a staple, with a few jumpsuits and dresses thrown in. Her number one priority is comfort!

Growing Up:

From birth to the teenage years, children's bodies change countless times over (as do their attitudes!). Babies and toddlers have large heads compared with body size and their posture is one of prominent bums and tums. As they grow, their bodies straighten up, their head grows at a slower pace to the rest of their body and limbs grow faster. Also, every child seems to develop at different ages and this differs too between boys and girls. They have growth spurts and lulls, so how does a children's wear brand keep up? The key is to dress a child by their height, not age. My go-to standard is the Winiferd Aldrich pattern cutting book which follows (British) children's growth and body shape. From this I produce pattern blocks then amend these to give current fit and styling.

How to measure a young child from my go-to

British standard, Winifred Aldrich

Design & Sew:

A child's age should always be the startting point for a children's wear design and this should be based around functionality and body shape at that age. Babies need to be dressed quickly, so comfortable clothes to wriggle in, with easy nappy-changing access is a must. As children begin to toddle they still need clothes with access and easy wearability as they become more active, but the body shape still has not much waist shaping and a large head to body ratio. From the age of two children start to loose their "puppy fat" until they reach about 8 years old, where the difference in boys and girls shapes begins to show.

Most well-know sewing pattern brands have already taken these aspects into account before designing their patterns, but again, if you are sewing a bought pattern for a child, check their height before cutting the pattern related to their age. Also focus more on the fibre content of the fabric you use and keep to natural fibres where possible. These are kinder to the skin, but also wash and wear well. Also when sewing the clothing yourself, you can tailor colour and design to the individual child, which always makes for something fabulously unique!

As always I am happy to give advice. Happy sewing!

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