Children’s wear design

Pia asks (as have many of you):

I am interested in patternmaking for children. Will it be ok to ask you to reccomend some good books on this subject? I [bought] Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear and Babywear: From Birth to 14 Years by Winifred Aldrich, which was the most recent edition on this sort of book available on Amazon, but I was not really satisfied with it. I’ve also got Professional Pattern Grading for Women’s, Men’s and Children’s Apparel by Jack Handford. But apart from these, no other title I’ve found looked promising.

I (perhaps unhelpfully) responded that the process of making patterns for children’s wear is the same for adults. Pattern sizing is a separate issue. Grading books (other than Handford) are woefully silent on grading children’s clothes. The only one available among the majors is Handford’s grading book. Most of the children’s pattern drafting books -other than Aldrich and Armstrong (Pattern Making for Fashion Design) who discusses it in part- are out of print. One out of print book that gets little mention but I think is useful, is Children’s wear design by Hilde and Jaffe.

Other than the ones listed above which are the books I recommend most, here’s other sources:

Pattern design for children’s clothes by Gloria Mortimer-Dunn is out of print. I can’t find a referring page. I think this is fairly comprehensive and not a bad book but Esther (who’d know better than I would) says the measures are wonky.

Children’s Clothing: Designing, Selecting Fabrics, Patternmaking, and Sewing which apparently requires the companion volume Master Patterns for Children’s Clothing which is unavailable.

Making Patterns for Children’s Clothes

Making children’s clothes using block-pattern method

I found one home sewing resource, a self published book called Pattern Making for Children

One free resource online, vintage, is Chapter 12 of Modern Pattern Design by Harriet Pepin

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  1. bethany says:

    I am not a pattern maker, but I design children’s clothing. My only hint is to make sure to make room for the diaper and the cute little belly. But also remember that diapers these days are much smaller then even 10 years ago.

    Oh, and also remember that kids are usually potty trained by around age 3-4, but there are a lot of toddlers that wear size 3T or 4T, but are only like 2 years old.

  2. Esther says:

    Thanks Kathleen! You listed some books I wasn’t aware of and I will add them to my wish list.

    So far, Aldrich’s book is the only one that discusses pattern making for infants. Most everyone else starts their measurement charts and instructions at a size 2/2T. Also, her pattern making instructions most resemble how it is done in the industry. Since she is a UK pattern maker, it has taken me some time to study and understand some of the things she says.

    It is helpful to remember that any patterns drafted from instructions in a book will require refinement. A pattern making book is a starting point but should never be considered a final authority.

  3. Lisa NYC says:

    I have the Hilde and Jaffe book in my collection. I read through it a year or so ago. It seems pretty good. You’re welcomed to borrow it if you’d like Kathleen so you can review it…just let me know.

    With friendship,

  4. Kathleen says:

    I have all of these but the last five. Take that back, I have Pepin in hard copy. I appreciate the offer Lisa, I think it’s better reviewed by a children’s wear maker (maybe you!). Maybe Esther wants to borrow it? She didn’t say which she didn’t have. I’m going to add Aldrich’s children’s book to my collection based on her mention in comments.

  5. Esther says:

    I have read the Hilde/Jaffe book but don’t own it. They do talk about infant sizing and tell the reader to drape their initial block patterns. Few start-up DE’s can afford to buy a form to drape basic blocks and would prefer to draft them. They do not include infant body measurements but start their measurement charts at size 2. Even then, I found their measurement charts incomplete (I am a little persnickety and find there are some basic body measurements that are lacking in many patternmaking books, but this book will help you draft some basic styles anyway). The book gives a good basic overview of children’s clothing design and it could help get someone started.

    Just ordered “Making children’s clothes using block-pattern method”. Only 99 cents at Amazon. Can’t beat that! I own the Armstrong (3rd edition), Mortimer-Dunn, and Aldrich books. Hilde-Jaffe and others I have borrowed from the library. I hope to expand my collection when I can.

  6. Sandra B says:

    Many years ago I was a childrenswear pattern grader. We used the Australian Standards size charts which go from three months up. They are pretty thorough, and give measurements such as vertical trunk and all the height measurements down the body landmarks. We developed our own smaller patterns because we went down to premmy sizes. I don’t have a measurement set for the little sizes, but I think I may have an old spec sheet somewhere. If it would help I can put a copy in the forum.

  7. Pia says:

    Thanks for having made a thread out of my question.

    I have used Ardrichs book and as said before, it is a good start but not a “bible”. In my opinion the ease allowances and sizing charts in this book are not that accurate. Naively, I expected them to be so (since it was such a recent edition).

    I few days ago I read an old entry by someone explaining how complex was to develop the right sizing charts for her line. She was comparing measures from different sources. Ive been doing so in the past and indeed sometimes they are just so incredible different from each other!!

    I am new to the forum and as I said in my message to Kathleen, I am interested in children clothing. So Sandra, thanks for your kind offer. I think it can be nice to see the information you are talking about.

    By the way Esther, I have just found out that it was you the one talking about the process developing your own size chart. So thanks for your comments.

  8. Esther says:

    I would agree that the ease measurements in the Aldrich book are small. My first bodice drafts using her charts had not only smaller girth ease, but smaller armholes and neck than I expected. The difference might be that Aldrich, being a UK patternmaker, prefers a closer fit. Once you have your basic drafts, you can modify them however you prefer. I have compared her measurement charts to mine and found her measurements to fall into an appropriate range. Her measurements are backed up with her own measurement studies.

  9. Kathleen says:

    I have used Ardrichs book and as said before, it is a good start but not a “bible”. In my opinion the ease allowances and sizing charts in this book are not that accurate. Naively, I expected them to be so (since it was such a recent edition).

    This is no criticism directed at Pia but I want to reiterate a few things.

    You cannot determine a book is “bad” or “good” based on the measuring tables! That is not the value proposition. Quality is determined by the quality of the drafting instruction and illustrated methods. If a book was judged to be bad based on sizing therein, then all the lovely vintage drafting books we collect are similarly bad and you know that’s not true. They’re jewels. If you want to buy sizing, go to

    Likewise, it is beyond the scope of any book to include measures constituting your market. As I’ve repeatedly said, clothing for ballerinas is a whole lot different than sizing for barrel racers. Both are children but they’re are different constitutions.

    Lastly, clothing sizes are also regional. The Dutch are taller than everyone. The English are comparable to the US but our population is still much more diverse. You size to your target market.

  10. Babette says:

    Children’s sizes are different across different time periods, different races and different regions of the world.
    Aldrich conducted her own sizing study of UK children because she was so dissatisfied with the British standards for children’s sizes. It wasn’t a small exercise, she used thousands of kids.
    UK sizes run considerably smaller than the US. In the UK the trend to obesity (and hence larger sizes) appears to be a few years behind the US.
    I’m very interested in the comment about Australian sizes being pretty promising.

  11. Marysia Paling says:

    Hi there,

    I am just in the process of doing some pattern drafting and I am trying to find Australian standard sizing charts. Sandra B mentioned them, can anyone tell me how I can get hold of it.

    Desperately trying to also fathom out how to draft a pattern for bishop dresses as my interest is in making and selling heirloom clothes. I am struggling to, as none of the pattern drafting books, either Aldrich or Armstrong cover this, or how to then draft the blocking guide for the bishop pattern.

    Would love some advice, or where to get the information to do it. No publishers answering my please for help, from any of the books that I have purchased.

  12. aviva says:

    hello everyone,
    i am a textile designer that has been asked to put together a simple collection of baby and toddler clothes – leggings, tshirts, onsies, etc. i am looking to hire someone to help me with sizing, grading, technical drawings to send to a factory. anyone interested or can recommend someone? i am based on the west coast.. california. i hope you all can help, each of you seem quite wise and super smart about this stuff… as a textile person, this sewing world leaves me a bit baffled. any advice, thoughts would be most appreciated and any “textile” q’s most welcome! much thanks, aviva

  13. Kathleen says:

    Hi Aviva

    Referral services are provided on our forum. It is the best option because altho I know a lot of people, it is impossible for me to have worked with contractors or suppliers across the country (or world). It’s easy to find names on google but google can’t tell you who is any good. Asking on the forum is better because you can get recommendations from people who can tell you about their experiences of working with given companies.

    You will have to be a member to access the forum which you can find here: //

  14. Liz says:


    The Australian Standard for “Size coding scheme for infants’ and children’s clothing – Underwear and outerwear” (AS1182-1997) is available from SAI Global (current price $63.44 for a PDF copy which can be printed once – there are other options).

    They also sell the equivalent British Standard: BS 3728:1982 Specification for size designation of children’s and infants’ wear ($143.17 for PDF printable once)…

    …and the International Standard ISO 3638:1977 Size designation of clothes – Infants’ garments ($54.10 – again, PDF printable once).

    …prices will obviously change over time.


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