Growing Clothes

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“Growing Clothes,” Ensign, Jan. 1976, 71

Growing Clothes

1. When making clothes for toddlers sizes 1–3, where can you allow for growth?

Answer: The trunk of the toddler increases in length an equal amount above and below the waistline. Allow 1/2″ above the waist for dresses with a waistline by making a wider waistline seam, or make a tuck at the waistline that can be released when needed. The 1/2″ of length for the skirt may be added in a 1/2″ tuck hidden on the inside of the hem. Or, if the style allows, this tuck may be stitched on the outside above the hem.

2. Don’t you need to allow for an increase in width?

Answer: Generally speaking, no, because the vertical growth is so rapid that by the time a width increase is necessary, a new length is also required beyond the above additions.

3. But what about children sizes 3–6? Do their needs for growth follow the same pattern?

Answer: Only from the size 3 to a size 4 in a short dress is the addition of 1/2″ above and 1/2″ below the waistline appropriate. The legs of the children in this size range begin to lengthen at a more rapid rate. So, for the short dress, sizes 4–5 and 5–6, 1 1/2″ are needed in the skirt while the bodice still requires only 1/2″ for lengthening. The clothing proportions of this group begin to approach those of an adult.

4. You have mentioned short dresses only. What about floor-length dresses in this size range?

Answer: Each size a child grows requires the addition of 2 1/4″ of length for the long skirt. This addition can be made in several ways, depending on the particular situation. If you are making a dress, you can plan ahead by sewing invisible or decorative tucks that can be released when needed. A dress without this built-in convenience can be lengthened by the addition of a flounce or ruffle at the bottom. This solution has the added advantage of making the dress easier to walk and move in. If the dress already has a ruffle, eyelet material, wide tape, ribbon, or a strip of a contrasting or similar fabric can be inserted a pleasing distance (two inches or so) above the hem or ruffle. If necessary, rick-rack, tape, or decorative stitches may be used to cover the seaming and relate the addition to the dress.

5. What is the growth pattern in girls sizes 7–12?

Answer: A very interesting thing happens between a size 6 and a size 7. The waist lengthens 1″ while the skirt may lengthen only 1/2″ or not at all. For sizes 7–12, lengthen a short dress at a ratio of 1:2—one for the bodice and 2 for the skirt. For instance, if you add 1/2″ to the bodice length, you then would add 1″ to the skirt length. When the bodice must be lengthened an inch or more for growth spurts of this size range, try an inset belt of decorative tape, contrasting fabric, or similar fabric. A midriff yoke of contrasting or similar fabrics may give a more pleasing proportion, depending on the build of the individual. Elizabeth Liechty, Brigham Young University, Dept. of Clothing and Textiles.