But I really want to make an attempt now to produce something that would be useful to others looking for free patterns for babies and children. It will take several posts. I have several hundred links on my spreadsheet, and there are several worksheets on it covering dresses and tops, pants and trousers etc. Then there are all the different sizes. Where to start?
To find which I think are some of the most useful web sites, and links to them, read on.
I'll start with a review of the sites where I've found several patterns I want to use, to help you get started on your own exploration. I've saved patterns from hundreds of web sites. From some of these, I may only have saved 1 - albeit a useful one. I'm concentrating for now on the sites where I've saved at least three patterns. Many of the sites which do have a number of free PDF patterns and tutorials are by people who also sell their own patterns. I think it's great that they do give some away free - I'm sure it attracts people to their web site who may also go on to purchase patterns from them. Please bear in mind that people have worked hard to produce these patterns, and we are all very grateful that they supply them freely. They own the copyright, and in most cases are happy for you to make things for your own family or as gifts, but not to abuse their generosity by using them for commercial purposes. If in doubt, contact them.
Sadly, one or two who have gone into selling patterns no longer provide ANY of their patterns for free - so they no longer figure on my lists. I think it's a mistake, as it can be the free ones that draw people to them in the first place, but it's their choice. Others no longer have small children to make things for, so they have moved on to adult clothes or other craft interests, but as long as they still have their free PDFs for children's clothing on-line, and it's easy to find them, they've made the cut!
There are other sites with great ideas and tutorials, but they require you to make a pattern from an existing garment. As I'm a grandma, not a mama, I don't have a nice little pile of existing garments to use as a starting point. I'm not averse to making my my own patterns - I've even put some of them on my blog - but I need very specific measurements to get started. So sites which only have 'make your own pattern' patterns don't figure here.
Many free patterns only come in limited sizes - but they may be available in more sizes for payment. (This probably explains why I've collected so many!)
In this post, I've included where possible pictures of my own attempts made using patterns from these websites. In a few cases, I've used an image from the web sites themselves.
Right - let's get started! I'm dealing with them more or less alphabetically, with the exception of #1 - which is.......
This is a great place to start, as it is an all-purpose web site where people can lodge their patterns. Of course, a lot of them are paid for patterns, but at the time I last checked, there were a few hundred items if I filtered on 'free' and 'chlidren' + 'baby'. (For reasons I don't understand, a few items always seem to get past the filters, like women's skirts, but that's not a big deal.) You have to register (free) and the site maintains your own personal library of everything you've downloaded - so if you've lost a pattern, you can find it again. There are also lots of tutorials. The only thing I would say is that anyone can upload a pattern, so you can't guarantee they will all work (e.g. are sized correctly, include seam allowance etc.) But as you can look at them for free, that's not a problem - you can look, and if you don't like them, it's cost you nothing!
Some of the pattern designers I mention below do 'sell' their patterns on Craftsy (for a payment, or free).
Here's a dress I made using the Good Deeds dress from Elysium on Craftsy.
2. Baby Patterns at Space
One of my favourite sites, all her patterns are free, those I've tried have worked. It is a Dutch site, though mainly in English, run by Suzy. There are only very limited tutorials so she assumes people downloading her patterns basically know how to sew. The great advantage is that she draws them all on measurable grid squares so you can be sure you'll have a correctly sized pattern. Here's one of my favourite patterns as made up for my granddaughters. You'll note I've made them reversible, using a method from Shwin and Shwin (further below), but the Baby Patterns at Space pattern.
Again, everything I've used has worked. Here's a dress I made from Teri's Izzy Top, a go-to pattern for me. (Sorry it's slightly blurry - she's spinning round.)
UPDATE jULY 2018: Currently this web site no longer seems to be working, which is a shame. Maybe it will come back, I do hope so. In the meantime, I have pdfs of a couple of her best patterns including the Izzy dress and the A-line dress, so anyone desperate to get a copy could contact me,
3. Cottage Mama
Lindsay's site is mainly about paid for patterns and fabric - all very beautiful - but she does still have some free patterns available.
Here are the Christmas dresses I made a couple of years ago using her Party Dress pattern. It has been modified not to have the sash - a bit too much for our not-so-frilly grand-daughters - but to have faux Peter Pan collars from the Melly Sews pattern. More about Melly Sews later.
4. Craftiness is not Optional
Like many of the others here, this site is now mainly a paid-for patterns site. However, Jess does keep the free patterns she still maintains easily visible on her web site.
Here's a winter pyjama top I adapted from her pretty Reversible Wrap Top pattern. (Made it with long sleeves for winter.)
Also known as Made Every Day, this web site is run by Dana. Again, most of her patterns are now paid for, and it's not easy to find the free PDF patterns that are still there. The link I've provided is for my favourite, the Perfect Diaper Cover pattern, which is very adaptable. Here are a couple of things I've made just from this pattern alone:
This pattern alone makes it worth checking out Dana's site, but she does have other free patterns if you hunt around.
Lorraine, or LiEr, now mainly writes tutorials and guides to techniques, but she has a clear tab that will lead you to her free patterns. One of the most attractive, which she has also adapted to a pinafore dress, is the pattern she calls Boy Shortalls. She has a very clear tutorial about how to get this professional looking finish. Unfortunately I can't show you what I've made from this pattern, because I missed the boat, size-wise, with all three of my older grandchildren. I've got one more chance - if I get on with it!
7. It's Always Autumn
This site is run by Autumn, who mainly specialises now in adult clothing, but she still has several easy and clearly labelled free patterns for girls available. The one I made below from her Flutter Sleeve Top had the miraculous effect of persuading my girly granddaughter into shorts - by dint of giving her a pretty top to match - and making the shorts pink. (The shorts are from my own pattern.)
8. Me Sew Crazy
This site is otherwise known as Sewing Rabbit after the childhood nickname, Jessica Rabbit, of its owner, Jessica. It has a tab 'DIY' which will lead you to various patterns. Again, with this one, I don't have anything of mine to show you, but I love these 0-3 months cargo pants. Once again, I've missed the boat. My newest grandchild was way too big for these even from birth. But they'd be lovely on a small baby! (Memo to self: Maybe I could adapt the pattern?) Jessica has a lot of other ideas or her site, too.
Jessica's picture9. Melly Sews
Melinda asks you to subscribe (free) to get her free patterns - not an unreasonable ask. Her more recent free patterns are for women, and hence not of interest to me - I like sewing little clothes! However, she has some lovely patterns. I already referred above to the Peter Pan Collar on the Christmas dresses above - the only problem was that the pattern only came in one size and I wanted three different sizes, hence I based them on Cottage Mama's pattern instead.
Her knit pyjamas look interesting, the free pattern being age 4 - I may get a couple of chances to try them!
10. Naptime Creations / Life Sew Savory
Emily is a blogger who covers other subjects like crafts and cooking, but she has a clear link to her free PDF patterns. It's also worth checking out her other sewing pages.
Here is a pair of leggings I've made from her free leggings pattern, in about 18 months old:
11. Once upon a sewing machine
Donna and Rachel are designers who sell their patterns on Etsy. But like all the people on this blog, they are generous enough to share several free PDF patterns.
Again, I can't yet point to any of the garments I've made using their patterns, but I'm certainly going to have a go at this one for my youngest grand-daughter. (Have to make it a bit bigger, though - she's grown so fast.)
Donna and Rachel's picture
12. Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mum
The link I've given you to Jamie's lovely site is for free girl patterns, but she has boy patterns, too, and plenty of others, as well as tutorials. I'm using one of her pictures, cropped, to give you an idea of how nice her patterns are - though I can't yet point to any of my own work using them. This is for a peasant dress pattern, which has the advantage of coming in larger sizes.
I LOVE this web site. Yes, it's in German, but you can translate with Google translate and get a pretty good idea of what it all about. But she has loads of what she calls 'E-books' you can download, with patterns and tutorials. If it's mainly the patterns you want, they are very clear, but if you need a written tutorial, rather than just using the detailed pictures, this might not be so suitable for you unless you can read German. (Such German as I had learned at school is very rusty so I didn't rely on it.)
I originally found Schnabelina's site when looking for premature baby garments. She makes patterns for doll onesies and baby onesies from very small sizes to very large. I made this kimono style onesie using her pattern, but making a kimono front and Velcro fastenings.
13. See Kate Sew
Kate also is a blogger and pattern seller, but has a clear tab leading to her free patterns. One of the most popular (going by Pinterest) of these is her Easy Baby Dress. Here's my version for my youngest granddaughter. Sadly it's only in a tiny size, so Ada has outgrown it already, at three months old, having possibly worn it twice. Don't get me started on how foolish it is to make clothes for newborns - see my post here. But we never heed our own advice, do we?.
14. Sew Much Ado
Abby also has a shop for her paid for patterns, but has a clear link to the free ones. I used her Suncadia Dress pattern to make this knit and cotton combo dress for my 2 and a half year old grand-daughter this summer.
This little peasant dress was made from her Infant Peasant Dress pattern (the matching knickers were from Dana's Perfect Diaper Cover) Again, this is only in 0-3 months, but Jane was very premature.
Two sisters, Shauna and Morgan, are responsible for this website. Ada's dress was made from their Summer Breeze pattern.
I have also frequently used their post on how to make reversible pants, using their idea/ method, but a different pattern, from Jereli (great pants pattern in several sizes), as I needed the different sizes. Theirs is a good pattern too.
The Shwin and Shwin web site asks you to subscribe to access the free patterns, but it is free to do so.
16. Small Dream Factory
I don't know the name of the owner of this web site, based in Europe, but I love the patterns. She sells fabric (within Europe) and patterns, but for many of her patterns she has at least one size that is free. The free patterns are listed down the side of her web site. (Listen to me - I'm assuming it's a woman - how sexist of me. However, as every single one of the other web sites is run by a woman I feel a bit justified.)
They are nearly all what I'd call 'basic', which means they are very adaptable. She does T shirts with short- and and long-sleeves, with round necks, with envelope necks etc, several simple dresses, and some clothing patterns for boys, as well as caps, mittens, sleeping clothes.
Here are two of my projects based on her patterns. This little Reindeer dress is based on her Envelope Neck T shirt pattern.
And this Sleeping Bag is an adaptation of her Baby Sleeping Bag pattern. (I changed the centre zip to a side zip and quilted the front.)
17. Stitching Scientist
As her site name suggests, Remona is not a professional seamstress, but a scientist and mother, who taught herself to sew because she was appalled at the cost of some baby and children clothes. So I warm to her! Many of her free sewing patterns are for non-clothes, for example, totes and quilts. But she does have some baby and children's clothes PDFs on her Free Sewing Patterns tab. I made this little dress for Fleur's baptismal party (not the baptism) when she was about 5 months old. It comes from what feel is Remona's nicest free pattern, her 6-9 months Baby Dress.
I've missed out a lot of web sites with nice free PDFs in this round-up, it's just a personal view of what I've found useful. Feel free to recommend others to me. After all, my full list runs to hundreds, so I had to start somewhere, and it takes time to review all the links, and check that patterns are still free that were free when I first discovered them.That IS the case at the time of writing, but things change. So please also let me know if links are broken or patterns are no longer free.
And please don't just scrape the results of all my hard work and research onto your web site without an acknowledgement.
For more information on the things I've made, and the ways I've used such patterns, please keep reading my blog! I add to it regularly, so there's be more information soon on free PDF patterns.