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How hard is it to sew kid/teen clothing?


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I am almost in full panic mode. My oldest daughter starts back to school on Monday and has little, if anything, to wear. My middle daughter is going shopping with me tomorrow to see if we can find anything (I've already been out shopping twice).

 

My daughter has just made the jump from the largest kid sizes to small junior sizes. That, in and of itself, is enough for culture shock. Leather outfits, shirts without a back, shirts with the front cut out and layers everywhere.

 

My daughter has autism and dislikes layers. She also can't manage zippers or buttons very well yet. We've always bought elastic waist pants. Apparently, teens aren't into elastic waist.

 

What I've been doing is having her wear dresses or long shirts with legging type pants underneath. When the weather becomes hot, we cut the leggings to end at her knees.

 

I'm thinking about sewing her clothes. My middle daughter can sew a little bit (but has more experience than I do).

 

For those that sew, would it take long to learn how to sew leggings and simple tunic type pull over shirts?

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With cost of fabric and short time frame, how about dying/decorating outfits? 

Here are leggings:http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/1295779-AA.shtml

Here are tunics: http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/1295688-AA.shtml?lnav=clothing_junior.html

 

Craft stores have lots of options, iron ons, rhinestones, etc...

Some may even have dyeable shirts etc.

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Leggings should be easy to find and are cheap, I wouldn't try to make those.  Sewing knits takes a trained hand and not something I would want to learn under stress in a week.  

 

Tunics may not be hard to sew, but it depends on the style and fabric.  Too many variables to say on that one.  Pick an 'easy' pattern (they are usually labeled) and only buy fabric for one.  That will give you an idea if it is feasible to make it or not for you.  Sewing clothes is just as expensive as buying them most of the time, so I wouldn't expect a cost savings.

 

 

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Target has plain leggings that have a full range of sizes.

Plain polo shirts sold in Target and Sears have a good range and is decent even if unbuttoned.

Michaels, Walmart and crafts stores have plain t-shirts in a variety of colors. I bought some at $2 each.

It can be more expensive to sew.

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When my girls were in that stage between adult and kids' clothes, I was always able to find yoga pants at Marshall's, in their "active wear" section. There were so many funky brands that I could always find some that were short enough. Would your daughter wear yoga pants? Athletic clothes generally might be a good way to go--minimal buttons, no zippers, super comfy.

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I sew practically everything, and I would buy the leggings.  I'd also buy yoga pants.  One of the big issues is that you're going to have trouble finding appropriate fabric to make those things -- places like JoAnn and Hancock don't have a lot of choices for decent quality knits that would be right for bottoms.  What they do have is expensive so you need to watch sales, clip coupons, and use your educator discount card -- you don't have time for that. Also, you'll want to buy patterns on sale (several companies go on sale for $1-$2 on a regular basis -- that's when you stock up on patterns), and the sales you need probably aren't happening right now.

 

My younger dd cuts off leggings to use as shorts under skirts, too, by the way.  No need to hem them since the knit doesn't ravel easily.

 

Also, speaking as someone who sews a lot, and has had to outfit several people within a few days (theater production) you do not want to sew a bunch of garments in the next week.  Even making one item a week as a beginner is a fairly hectic schedule if you also need to take care of the rest of your family.  I truly think making some tunics would be very doable for you and is a great idea, but you're not going to have 5 of them done by next week if you're not used to sewing much or sewing at that pace (you're going to drive yourself nuts if you try it, and end up hating yourself and hating sewing).  

 

Use some of the other wonderful ideas people have given you to outfit your dd this year, PLUS try making ONE tunic in the next couple of weeks (or months).  Have a goal of being able to sew well by this time next year.  It really is freeing to be able to make exactly what you want, but it's more of a long range goal.

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Agree about making leggings - it's the knit fabric that is difficult. It wants to stretch as you're sewing.

 

Elastic waist skirts are easy.Tunic tops would usually be easy, too. Sewing can be expensive, though. It's not necessarily an inexpensive option, unless (like my mother) you can find give-away or throw-away fabric and notions to use. 

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Try easy fit pants and tunic patterns by Carla C/sisboom on www.youcanmakethat.com

 

Very easy patterns to follow. I buy leggings for DD as price wise and time wise was better to buy.

 

Your link doesn't work. Fix please? :)

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I wouldn't start from scratch because there's too little time to learn and too much stress. However, I have seen some cute t-shirt dresses that you could do with long or short-sleeved t-shirts. Leggings are available in the women's department, so I wouldn't attempt making those. Also, if you just want plain khaki pants, the boys department seems to carry elastic waistbands in larger sizes. Bedazzle them or do iron ons if you need to sell them as girls' pants.

 

648013DA-BD8F-43AD-882E-EB1F4BF0AD9B-298

 

Here's a more adult version, but the idea is the same.

 

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What is the most complicated thing you've sewn?   The actual pattern for leggings would be easy (simple lines) - but knits are a pain.  Also - knit fabric is ridiculously expensive unless you find a good sale or some on clearance.  I'd do the pre-made t-shirt dresses and buy leggings online. 

There are some really cute, simple patterns out there that use more basic cotton fabric.  Burda Young and Kwik Sew are two good brands to check out.  I've heard See and Sew is good as well but I haven't used them.

 

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Thanks or all of the replies. I really appreciate it! I realize that I can't make everything before Monday. I have a few things but nowhere near the amount I need.

 

For whatever reason, I can't find leggings where I shop. I must be missing them.

 

My daughter likes to sit with her knees up, so something under skirts and dresses is a must. Right now, she's going through a medication change and has had frequent urine 'accidents'. It's not as bad as it has been, but it's still about eight times a day that we need fresh clothes. The school is ready and prepared, but the thought of getting together so many outfits to send with her (that must be school appropriate) is making me cringe. Not to mention the fact that constant washing (even if I air dry) is killing her clothes.

 

I can also make waist band pants for her. She's just a hard size to fit.

 

I don't expect this to be cheaper. I want her to look nice and be comfortable.

 

Thank you, thank you for all you've posted so far. :)

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I've got an Aspie daughter and feel your pain! Keeping her in clothes has always been a challenge, and more so around puberty. Because she went to a charter school, she got used to wearing khaki pants, and would only wear khaki pants for years. About a year ago she started wearing jeans without drama--hooray!

 

I agree with the others--check out yoga pants, smaller sizes in the misses section. My daughter will only wear T-shirts but the collar has to go up above the collar bone, and not too tight. What stores are you going to? I've made T-shirt dresses for younger girls, and they are really easy and cute. 

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I sew everything and have vast experience with knits.  I find them easy.  However, I have been sewing with them over 40 years.

I agree with everyone about not trying to learn how to do that by yourself in a week.  I have a fabulous local chain where I live and I can buy pretty much any kind of knit I want but it's expensive and I shop sales.

 

Leggings are not hard in the knit category of sewing, but finding the right pattern and the right fabric in a short period of time is just not advisable.

It would be the putting in the elastic and figuring out how to hem the knit that is the trickier part. 

(Twin needles for hems...easy peasy, but not always familiar to most people)

Do you have a serger or just a sewing machine? 

I sewed knits for decades on my regular machine with a stretch stitch, but sergers make haste of the job.

 

 

If you want to learn knit sewing, I highly recomment Kwik Sew patterns. They work and they fit well.

They have a line called Kwik start and that is where I would start. They can be har d to find, but I have seen a very small version of their big pattern book at JoAnn fabrics. They are available on line and I have found them on Ebay.

 There is usually at least 4 sizes included in every pattern.  When I find a pattern I like with them, I trace off the sizes as I need them and keep the original pattern as my master.  I have some that I have been using since my oldest was a toddler.  She is 36 now.

 

Kwik start 3683 is a basic tunic and includes a scarf pattern.

http://kwiksew.mccall.com/filebin/pdf/Kwik%20Sew/YardagesCatalogPages/K3683.pdf

 

Another one I have seen that would be super easy to sew..( only shoulder and side seams)

http://kwiksew.mccall.com/k3838-products-20371.php?page_id=3030

It is a vest with or without a hood.  No buttons or zippers.

 

Kwik Serge pattern that I think is what you are looking for.

http://kwiksew.mccall.com/k3463-products-20032.php?page_id=3334

 

Lastly, I wish you lived near me as I would love to show you how to sew this stuff up quickly! 

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Belk's, Penneys, sometimes Kohls and then Target/WalMart. I used to go to Justice for her but she outgrew that quickly.

 

We live 15 minutes away from a wal mart and about an hour from anything else. Because of her medication issues at the moment, I have to buy the item and then bring it home and see if it fits. My middle daughter is going with me because she has an eye for what fits everyone (and also what looks nice).

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I love to sew with knits, but I'd been sewing for a few years before I tried it. I would not recommend doing it under pressure if you are a novice. The other ladies have good ideas for places to buy leggings, etc. I would do that, considering your time crunch.

 

If you really want to learn to sew, I'd start with a simple elastic waist skirt. Then branch out from there. Expect to spend some time with a stitch ripper at first. It is not that difficult, but it takes time to learn terminology, learn to read a pattern, to use your machine, etc. You will likely make a few mistakes before you get the hang of it. Good luck!

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If you do decide to sew the leggings - this a a trick I was taught as a kid in 4-H sewing class from a professional seamstress. Cut your pattern pieces out of waxed paper, then IRON to the knit fabric. Cut & sew as usual. just pull off the waxed paper when completed sewing. The waxed paper acts almost like interfacing, and keeps the knit from stretching while you sew it. Also works well on slippery fabric too.

 

 

But I have to echo everyone else - I would not attempt leggings if you are not an experienced sewer. T-shirt dresses is a good place to start. For leggings, have you though of ordering them from land's end? Or somewhere else online?

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I love to sew with knits, and find it quite easy. However, on your timetable, I would be thinking about modifying things rather than making clothes from scratch.

 

I have purchased women's (knee length) skirts before, and just shortened the waistband for my four-year-old daughter. I would think that would be much easier for older child. Sewing loose skirts on T-shirts is very easy. It tends to look good even if you don't do a great job with sewing. Walmart, target, Kohls, and JCPenney's, all have leggings for women. I would move to the women's section, juniors can be very difficult. For something like leggings, tunics, and skirts, it won't matter anyway. Those clothing items don't tend to be cut as "curvy" as other items might be. I would bet that you can find T-shirts or tunics and some leggings in the women's section pretty easily. They may not require any modification at all. Maybe some elastic waist skirts as well. All in nice comfy cottons that don't really need any layering.

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Super post, Katie!!  I would "like" it multiple times if I could!

 

That KwikSew 3683 looks like a winner -- they leave the hem, neckline and armholes unfinished!  Wow, I may have to get a copy of that one myself.  Once you get your technique down, you could crank out one of those every day.

I sew everything and have vast experience with knits.  I find them easy.  However, I have been sewing with them over 40 years.

I agree with everyone about not trying to learn how to do that by yourself in a week.  I have a fabulous local chain where I live and I can buy pretty much any kind of knit I want but it's expensive and I shop sales.

 

Leggings are not hard in the knit category of sewing, but finding the right pattern and the right fabric in a short period of time is just not advisable.

It would be the putting in the elastic and figuring out how to hem the knit that is the trickier part. 

(Twin needles for hems...easy peasy, but not always familiar to most people)

Do you have a serger or just a sewing machine? 

I sewed knits for decades on my regular machine with a stretch stitch, but sergers make haste of the job.

 

 

If you want to learn knit sewing, I highly recomment Kwik Sew patterns. They work and they fit well.

They have a line called Kwik start and that is where I would start. They can be har d to find, but I have seen a very small version of their big pattern book at JoAnn fabrics. They are available on line and I have found them on Ebay.

 There is usually at least 4 sizes included in every pattern.  When I find a pattern I like with them, I trace off the sizes as I need them and keep the original pattern as my master.  I have some that I have been using since my oldest was a toddler.  She is 36 now.

 

Kwik start 3683 is a basic tunic and includes a scarf pattern.

http://kwiksew.mccall.com/filebin/pdf/Kwik%20Sew/YardagesCatalogPages/K3683.pdf

 

Another one I have seen that would be super easy to sew..( only shoulder and side seams)

http://kwiksew.mccall.com/k3838-products-20371.php?page_id=3030

It is a vest with or without a hood.  No buttons or zippers.

 

Kwik Serge pattern that I think is what you are looking for.

http://kwiksew.mccall.com/k3463-products-20032.php?page_id=3334

 

Lastly, I wish you lived near me as I would love to show you how to sew this stuff up quickly! 

 

 Really, as others have said,  knits can be easier to sew than wovens because there are fewer fitting issues (plus less finishing), assuming you can find decent knit fabric.  If you get the cheapy stuff it can be a nightmare.  Also, as others have said, it may take a couple of tries before you get your techniques down -- stitch length, proper needle, etc.

 

(Digression:  I have a serger and a couple of regular machines.  When I make swimsuits or dance leotards, I just use a zigzag stitch on a regular machine.  Also, those are pretty easy things to make for a kid because the lycra in the fabric makes fitting a breeze. Frankly, I'm using the serger less and less on knits.)

 

Our JoAnn sells a small collection of KwikSew, but our Hancock has almost the full line.  They are really and truly some of the best for straightforward patterns with good, clear directions.  They're worth paying full price, or ordering from an online shop.

 

 

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I realize that you still need clothes, but have you tried depends or other pads for the accidents? If tolerated, that could cut down the need for complete changes at school.

 

We have tranquility pads but they're overnight and big. I'm sure there are much smaller ones.

We've used them before (she didn't toilet train until she was nearly 9) and they become objects of obsession unfortunately. She will wet and change constantly or dip it in the toilet so she can throw it against the wall. She likes the stuff inside of the diaper that expands.

 

I can't tell you all how grateful I am for the suggestions. We only found two dresses and no leggings today. I didn't look in the women's section. I'll try Wal-Mart tomorrow and hope for better luck.

 

I used to sew when I was younger, but it's mostly straight lines (nightgowns, pillows, quilts). My daughter has sewn simple dresses for herself and her sister out of old leftover material. We're going to start with elastic band pants/skirts as well as t-shirt dresses and go from there. I feel a lot more hopeful.

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We live 15 minutes away from a wal mart ...

 

Danskin Now workout wear in the women's section at Wal Mart.  Look for a display with folded items.  Also bike shorts might be a wardrobe expander.  My dd's also like the Victoria Secret Pink line of leggings, American Eagle leggings, and sometimes Target.  These places seem to have leggings on a regular basis.

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At Walmart check near the bras, etc. for the leggings.  That is where I found them for my daughter.  I would also check the fitness clothes as well as just ask an employee.

 

Hope you find what you are looking for.  Hannah Andersson has some great stuff but it is $$$ they have some bigger sizes for girls but also has some things in Women's sizes.  Check for clearance stuff

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I like Target boys department, even for girls. Lots of nice t shirts, polo shirt, pull-on, elastic waist shorts and pants. Everything is looser fitting than comparable sized girls clothes. My dd has long outgrown Target girls clothes, but still fits in Target boys clothing.

 

I am not at all good at sewing clothes, but elastic waisted skirts are easy, even for me. I have a stash of skirts from Liberty (English). I wonder if you can get that sort of thing here -- it's a piece of cloth that already has an elastic waistband -- all you do is sew it up the side and hem it. Tops have sleeves and shoulders -- challenging to make if you don't sew (jmho).

 

You may not like this, but my dd loves boys pj bottoms from Target, as long as the pattern is neutral, not boyish.

 

 

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We've used them before (she didn't toilet train until she was nearly 9) and they become objects of obsession unfortunately. She will wet and change constantly or dip it in the toilet so she can throw it against the wall. She likes the stuff inside of the diaper that expands.

 

I can't tell you all how grateful I am for the suggestions. We only found two dresses and no leggings today. I didn't look in the women's section. I'll try Wal-Mart tomorrow and hope for better luck.

 

I used to sew when I was younger, but it's mostly straight lines (nightgowns, pillows, quilts). My daughter has sewn simple dresses for herself and her sister out of old leftover material. We're going to start with elastic band pants/skirts as well as t-shirt dresses and go from there. I feel a lot more hopeful.

If you can sew a bit, have you considered making her some cloth menstrual pads? Google 'mama cloth' if you don't know what I am talking about.  I wonder if they would be enough to catch some urine and reduce at least a few of the changes per day. If she would go for it, you could sew some into panties so they wouldn't be as likely to become projectiles. They also wouldn't have the same sensory experience as the diaper or other disposable pads. 

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