The most popular item I've been asked to make this year is the art smock. The supply list says to use an old T-shirt, but not a single child wanted to be caught in a dirty old shirt, starting with my own seven-year-old. So the art smock got my attention this year.
I, of course, started with the smock for my own son. He had some specific requirements. It had to have "jaggy edges", it had to have holes under the arms so he wouldn't get sweaty, and he had to be allowed to paint it. Knowing it had to last the year, I chose a light denim to work with. He wouldn't be too hot and it would last.
So how to you make a smock for a child? With four pieces of fabric, some thread, a good length of elastic, and a sturdy sewing machine. To make one yourself, follow the directions here. Consult the rough sketches if you need a little help. These instructions assume you've done things like insert elastics and sew seams. Detailed directions for these things will not be given.
- Start by measuring your child (all in inches). Measure the width of the child's torso (A), top of shoulder to top of knee (B), and top of shoulder to wrist (C).
- Cut two pieces of fabric measuring A+20 inches wide and B inches tall. These will be for the body of the smock.
- Cut two pieces of fabric measuring 24 inches wide and C+6 inches tall. These will be for the arms of the smock.
- Lay out the fabric as the diagram suggests, keeping right sides together. Each sleeve piece should be folded in half to make a single sleeve. Raw edges should face down.
- Study the sketch carefully. Notice the diagonal lines drawn on the pattern. Duplicate these, measuring 6 inches across and down from each corner indicated on the diagram. These lines will be exactly where your seams are.
- Pin the required pieces of the pattern together, right sides together, lining up the lines you drew in Step 5. You should have four seams. Sew them together.
- You should now have something that looks a little too big. That's okay. Keeping Right sides together, stitch the side seams. Start at the wrist area and sew until you get to the bottom edge of the smock. Then stitch the other side. If you want to give your child more room, sew only to just past the hip area on both sides.
- Now you'll need some elastic at the wrists. Measure carefully. You don't want to make the wrists too tight. Sew a channel for the elastic, leaving a large enough space to pass a safety pin through. Attach the elastic to the safety pin and thread the pin through the channel. Once you have the elastic in place, sew the ends of the elastic together so it doesn't come out again (because that would mean you'd have to start over and that's annoying). Repeat on the other side.
- Now you have to decide how to finish the piece. Start with the neck. If you notice in the picture at the top of the post, I just hemmed the area. No elastic, nothing fancy. You can do the same. You can also add an elastic if you want to tighten up the neck, but I tend not to. It's easier for the kids to get the smock over the head if the opening is large.
- For finishing the other areas, I used pinking sheers to cut out holes under the arms (you don't have to do this; my son asked me to). I also cut around all the unfinished seams (still using the pinking sheers) to give it a "jaggy look" just like my son asked for. I frayed the edges a bit and used a decorative stitch just to make sure the denim didn't unravel.
- Finally, my son broke out the fabric paint. He wanted it to look like he'd just come away from the paint table, so he put lots of paint splotches on it. He also added his name.
This project is easy to do yourself, though most people don't. It can be made with more fabric, increasing the width of the body pieces and giving it a more 'flowy' look. I do this for the girls so they have something that flounces. For the boys (like my son) something more streamlined works better.