Friday 8 September 2023

Free Pattern Friday: Hat and Leggings for Babies

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

Today you've got a two free pattern reviews for the price of one! The reason why I'm posting both of these today is because they make such a sweet pairing: they can be worn together AND make a lovely set to give as a gift. If you don't have any babies in your life at this time, and no one you know is currently expecting a child or grandchild, I recommend you bookmark this post for the future. And if you're in that phase of life when it feels like everyone around you is having babies, you could make a few in advance to have on hand as gifts.

Big thanks to Sweet Red Poppy for creating the Double Top Knot Baby hat pattern for free, and to Patterns for Pirates for creating the Petite Pegs pattern for free. I really wish both of these patterns had been around when I was pregnant with my babies!

(image source: Sweet Red Poppy)

Pattern type: 

The Double Knot Baby hat pattern is ridiculously cute and consists of just two pattern pieces: the hat and the band. The Petite Pegs are a casual leggings style with knit waistband (no elastic), with a rise designed to easily cover a nappy. There are four leg lengths included: shorties, bike, capri and ankle. They also consist of two pieces: the legs and the waistband. 

(image source: Patterns For Pirates)

Sizing info:

The hat pattern includes six sizes ranging from Newborn to 2Y, and the leggings from Premie to 12 months. After much debate, I created these two sets both using the 3-6 months size for the hat and Newborn for the leggings. I was scared of making the hat too small and them being useless, so I erred on the side of caution with that. I felt more confident going with the Newborn size for the leggings. As you might be able to tell from the tiny feet in the pic below, my friend's child was just a couple of weeks old, to give you a sense of the fit. 

As well as the age of the baby, you should also pick your pattern sizing in relation to the amount of stretch in your fabric: going for a smaller size for super stretch knits, or a larger size if the stretch percentage is much lower. 

Fabric info:

For the hat pattern, it is recommend that you use a medium-weight knit fabric with a content of 95% Cotton, 5% Lycra/Spandex. But then a couple of paragraphs down includes a greater list of other types of knit that could be suitable. I'd probably stick to the cotton/spandex (AKA Lycra or elastane) jerseys because I would be concerned that the other suggestions might be a touch too thick for that tight curve at the top of the knots, or quite slippery and therefore a challenge to work with. 

For the Petite Pegs pattern, they recommend a four-way stretch fabric with at least 50% stretch and good recovery. They also emphasise Lycra or spandex in the content, which is particularly important for this pattern so they stay in place and don't fall down, seeing as the pattern doesn't use elastic at the waist. 

The space print fabric (leftover from these men's PJs - another free sewing pattern!) I used here is exactly on spec for these patterns: cotton/elastane with a good four-way stretch. The mustard fabric for the second hat wasn't quite as stretchy, and more of a two-way stretch, than a true four-way. But I've also used this fabric for making undies and they hold up fine so I was confident in my choice, particularly because I wasn't making the smallest size of hat. The grey jersey I used for the second pair of leggings was probably more like a viscose/elastane jersey. I got this from a charity shop many years ago and it was unlabelled so I can't be sure. It's quite drapey and lighter in weight than the other two but it's really soft, so I knew it would feel particularly nice against the skin. 

Of course, with both of these patterns, I'm going to emphasise what excellent potential scrap busters they are! They take so little fabric, and you can play around using different constrasting fabrics for the bands and the main parts. For the leggings, you could even use two different fabrics for the two legs. And with the hat, you could use different fabrics for the front and back hat pieces. But as always with combining different fabrics, just make sure they have the same amount of stretch and a similar weight. 


Downloading the print-at-home pattern for the hat was easy enough. The instructions are in the form of a blog post that you read directly on their site. There's also a YouTube video to support you if you'd like, but I didn't watch it. The instructions on the blog post are good, however it's one of those sites that is dripping with distracting ads. Which I accept because that how this person's business models works in order for them to offer free patterns, including this one. 

Generally speaking, I think the instructions (when you can find them between the adverts) are great. However, there's one step of the process that I did differently and I'm glad I did. The last step gets you to attach the band to the hat with the band on the right side of the hat. You then press the seam allowance up into the hat. My feeling is that the seam allowance would not stay put and probably poke out the bottom because it's not stitched in place. To prevent that, I stitched the band to the WRONG side of the hat, so when you flip the band out to the right side, the seam allowance will always be hidden. I would also recommend tacking the band in place with a few invisible stitches. 

The leggings pattern, by contrast, is accessible via the shop and cart on the Patterns for Pirates website. You have to create an account and go through more steps (you don't need to input any payment details). However, you then have a downloaded file that includes the pattern AND instructions - no ads. 

The construction process was a breeze. The only thing, and this is very minor and personal, is that I dislike a 1/2" seam allowance! It's not one I have to use very often, so I can't visually easily where to position a project on my overlocker so I'm trimming off the correct amount. Oh, and one point I'd make that I think they missed is to add some kind of tag or label so the back is easily identifiable. When parents are trying to change a wriggly baby whilst sleep deprived, they need all the help they can get! But honestly, that's it. I could make these leggings all day.

Would I make them again?

Hell yes! I've really whittled down my stash of jersey fabrics over the last couple of years, but if some more suitable fabric came my way, I'd definitely be making more of the leggings in particular. I do really like the two of these patterns together as a set, so if there are any new babies on the horizon, I'd love to do this again. 
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