Thursday, February 24, 2011

sewing for potty training

I wonder if that title has ever been attached to a blog post....

Anyway, I have not been one to overlook the creative possibilities attached to each of my littlest one's developmental stages -- so in the past few months I took on the challenge of making things that could facilitate potty training.  Maybe some of my experiences can help another sewing-mama-of-a-toddler....

Miss F has been in a wonderful toddler Montessori program since September, where they ask that the kids wear straight-legged, elastic-waist pants (no dresses).  While I was sad to know that the little dresses I had made could not be worn to school, I happily started to sew loads of elastic-waist pants.  These make it really easy for Miss F to dress herself, and to (quickly! time is of the essence!) get stripped down for a trip to the potty or toilet.

I started with lightweight pants made of home dec and quilting cottons, like this pair:

As the weather turned colder, I made some pants from cotton interlock and polar fleece, and learned that a little contrast tab (sewn on the OUTSIDE...inside is too scratchy) can help a toddler to tell back from front:

Now that we're in deep winter, F is wearing flannel-lined pants -- and to make these lined pants toddler-friendly, you definitely want to treat the outer and inner fabrics as one unit, wrong sides together, sewing the pants as if these two layers are a single piece of fabric. This is easier than more conventional lining methods (in which you essentially make two versions of the pants and place one inside the other), and ensures that the lining doesn't "catch" on little toes and knees during un/dressing.  It makes a huge difference -- I take a little pride in knowing that my lined pants inspired a revision of the school policy against lined pants! -- and these pants are *really warm*!

A couple of examples: some aqua cords with an Anna Maria Horner Gold Folks flannel lining, and some little patch pockets:

and some jeans (from a $3 denim remnant at Fabricland) lined with polka-dot flannel and sporting Echino print pockets (my favourite pair!):

When it came time to do potty training in earnest -- during the cold month of January -- F's teacher asked that she wear leg warmers and "potty pants" during the day (to make trips to the potty even easier).  I won't bore anyone with pic's of the many pairs of legwarmers I whipped up (there are plenty of tutorials on easy kids' legwarmers made from women's knee socks...try them!  They're much more comfy on a 2-year-old than those super-tight BabyLegs).  But I did manage to sew some potty pants, using my stash of knit fabrics and a couple of hemp prefold diapers I had (and had hardly used).

These are made by following the Alva training pants pattern ( -- but it did take a lot of trial-and-error to get these right.  Ultimately, I found that a nice, light, stretchy waffle knit fabric worked best -- two layers, with a peanut-shaped "soaker" cut from the old prefold sandwiched inbetween.  As I refined my design, I added a contrast waistband (Miss F was confusing the waist and the leg openings!) and a little flower to mark the front.

I am very happy to report that Miss F is fully potty trained (and she just turned 2 at the end of last month!).  This process was MUCH less cumbersome than the ones I endured with my older two kids (who both potty-trained around age 3).  I'd say that it's definitely worth trying to potty train during that 18 mos - 2 year may be easier than you think....

Anyway, I am convinced that you can put basic sewing skills to use in helping a toddler to potty train.  Maybe all of this will prove helpful to someone else...I hope so!


Dr. Jump said...

So baby is warm, dry, AND stylish. Look out *Project Sandbox*!

Maxine Schacker said...

Everything you've done makes so much sense! Miss F is a lucky little girl.