Learning Pattern Design Basics through Childrens’ Fashion

Its cute, its fun, its colorful, and each year, it proves to be a crowd favorite category at the Annual Fashion Show. Childrenswear, designed and produced by sophomore level fashion design students in the Pattern Development I class, is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.

After learning design and garment sewing basics, sophomore level fashion design students at Thomas Jefferson University develop pattern-making skills to bring their designs to life. Pattern Development I introduces students to pattern-making fundamentals, while also challenging students to problem solve and figure out how their own designs would be manufactured in production. This class culminates with students designing and producing mini childrenswear collections. Working in childrenswear not only allows these developing designers to explore color and texture more freely, but also allows for the ease of working on smaller scale garments.


As with any good design, students begin by identifying a target customer, or muse, and develop a concept that fits the needs and aesthetics of that individual. Some students may choose a young relative or family friend as their target customer, while other students look to more recognizable  muses, such as the children of celebrities or social media influencers. From there, the students explore sketchbook research and begin to sketch design ideas. They then use their research and concept direction to design looks for their childrenswear collections. For most students, this is their first opportunity to bring sketches to reality.

Flat Patterning

Prior to Pattern Development I during their sophomore year, some students in the fashion design program may have some experience with sewing patterns, while others are totally new to the idea. Learning the flat pattern technique challenges students to utilize basic math and geometry skills in order to create the pieces that make up their garments. After patterns are made, students are ready to create their first muslins, which act as a prototype of the finished garment. Through garment fittings on child-sized dress forms and on live child models, student designers make necessary adjustments to their patterns to ensure the correct fit and comfort for the wearer. All of these updates are reflected in the patterns used to make the final garment.


Ordinarily, students in Pattern Development I are expected to construct multiple pieces of the larger childrenswear collection they designed. However, prior to COVID-19 shutdown on campus this past semester, students in this class were able to pattern, sew, and fit Looks One and Two of their collections before the curriculum went digital. Students use the industry-level sewing and construction skills taught in Garment Structures the previous semester to create high-quality pieces. Child models and their parents visit campus multiple times throughout the semester to participate in garment fittings. This experience not only allows students to make fit adjustments on live models, but also gives them an opportunity to learn about their target customers’ needs and desires from the children and parents themselves.


Below are just a few of the inspiring collections sophomore fashion design students created during the spring 2020 semester. Be sure to click images to enlarge for detail!

Renel Forand

Rebecca Shustack

Mahdiya Trudeau-Williams

Juliana Gober

Michaela Day

Danny Feeney

Brianna MacFarland

Alexandra Rinehart


Featured image illustrations by Michaela Day.

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