Sewing for kids gets harder as they get older. Those once straight little noodles evolve into curves, and unpredictable growth spurts mean that you never know quite how a pattern is going to fit in all its dimensions–not to mention how it’s going to fit after the next growth spurt!
One of my favorite children’s pattern companies is Oliver +S, but this School Bus T-shirt is the first pattern of theirs that I’ve sewn for a tween. I purchased it as part of their Family Pack, with a few styles of shirts in sizes from a kid’s 6M to an adult’s XXL, hoping to make myself some shirts, as well, although I never actually have time to sew for myself, so this School Bus shirt for my ten-year-old is the first pattern that I’m testing.
If you’re new to sewing or unfamiliar with digital patterns, you might have some trouble piecing together this pattern. I tend to prefer digital patterns, and even I had to stop and think about what I was doing, because the digital pattern doesn’t seem to include exact points to overlap when you piece the pattern together. I finally figured out that you overlap the grids at the edges of the pages, and I guess that’s correct, because the shirt sewed up perfectly.
This particular pattern seems to run large. My kid is ten, and she wears a size 10 in store-bought clothing, but here, a size 8 fits her well in width and length, with plenty of room to grow. The only place where the sizing is off, you can probably see in the top photo, is the sleeve length; after she tried on this finished shirt, I went back and added a full four inches to the sleeve pattern.
Other than those minor complaints, The Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt is the perfect pattern even for an older kid. Like all the many other Oliver + S patterns that I’ve used, it sews up simply, but has plenty of room for fun details. For this particular shirt, for instance, it was easy to sew the sleeves in a contrasting color, and to add in cuffs rather than simply hemming them, as the pattern calls for. I also added a hood, but that’s a little more complicated, so I’ll show you how to do it in another post.
Another really great thing about this pattern is how easy it adapts itself to upcycling. All of the blue fabric in the shirt came from another T-shirt, and I was able to use that shirt’s existing bottom hem as the bottom hem of this shirt. The sleeve cuffs are that same shirt’s neckband:
You’ll see that I also messed up those cuffs:
As soon as I finished the first sleeve, I noticed that I somehow sewed the cuff on inside out. Oops! Rather than rip the stitches out of all that delicate jersey knit, I just sewed the second cuff on backwards, as well. You’re the only ones who’ll know that it’s not on purpose.
Next on my to-do list is to use this exact same pattern to sew another shirt for the kid, this time out of stretch velvet. I expect it to come out just the same, albeit with sleeves four inches longer and cuffs that aren’t inside-out…