Sew a Growth Chart – Tutorial

Bad news: I’m blogging and sewing tonight while sitting on a step stool. Good news: it’s because I am in the middle of making over my free Craigslist Queen Anne chairs for the sewing room. They are already repainted, and I just need to re-do the seats, which I hope to do this weekend.  Wait! What was I supposed to be talking about… oh yes…

In a recent post, I brainstormed ways to help my friend preserve the record of her children’s heights marked on a door jamb in their house. I loved looking at all the great ideas out there, as well as coming up with some of my own.

At the end of that post, I included a picture of the hanging fabric growth charts I made for my kids. In case you want to make one for your family or as a gift (I first designed this as a baby shower gift!), I’ve broken down the steps here. Let me know if you have any questions!

As I mentioned last time, I’m sure there are similar growth charts out there, but I designed this one myself, keeping in mind that I wanted it to be

  • portable – so that we could take it with us when we moved (a feature this post proves is valuable!)
  • easy to store – fabric can be rolled up for compact storage and ironed later – wood, obviously, cannot, and paper could get folds and wrinkles – though you could wrap around a paper towel roll to minimize this.
  • complete – I wanted to be able to record my kids’ growth from birth to adulthood. Many ready-made growth charts stop around five feet. Granted, most tweens and teens may not have any interest in growth charts anymore, but their parents might, so I made mine go up about 6’2″, just in case!

The finished size of this growth chart is approximately 11.5″ wide x 54.5″ high.

For each chart, you will need:

  • fabric markers or sharpies
  • white fabric (8.5″x58″): I used white cotton twill, which I chose for its stability and weight
  • backing fabric: I used twill or denim, again to add stability and weight
  • border fabric (equivalent to 1/2 yard of 42″ wide calico): I won’t be bossy here – use whatever you like!
  • 1/2″ diameter wooden dowel (approximately 2′ long)
  • two small screw eyes
  • ribbon for hanging

1) On a strip of white fabric that is 8.5″ wide for each growth chart, mark out inches from 1’6″ to 6’2″ (or whatever you like) by laying a tape measure on the fabric and using a ruler to draw lines with a fabric marker or Sharpie. I used a different color and longer marking every six inches. The short lines are 1.5″ and the long lines are 2″. Remember that lines on the finished product will be shorter, because a 1/2″ will be in the seam allowance.

If you are making more than one growth chart, you can be efficient and mark lines for two at a time, as shown below. You will need a slightly longer fabric strip and want to number from both ends, so the marks are on the left of each chart.

growth chart

Inches marked on white fabric using fabric markers.

2) Cut out strips for a border. The side strips are 2.5″ wide. The chart should be 58″ long, but cut your strips about an inch longer, in case you are like me, and straight lines magically transform into uneven ones… For preparing the border, I used a rotary cutter with quilting ruler and mat. These tools are designed for quilting, where you have to piece together very precise lines and angles, but they work well for lots of other projects.

Quilting tools

Quilting tools: rotary cutter, quilting ruler, and mat. These are so useful for getting straight lines and square angles on all sorts of projects. I even use the mat and ruler for cutting paper.

3) Sew the side strips onto the white center, using a half inch seam allowance. Iron flat, with the seam toward the border. Trim the border pieces so they are flush with the white section. Again, the quilting tools are great for getting things straight and square.

4) Next, cut strips for the top and bottom border. These are 5.75″tall, and they should be 11.5″ wide. Again, I cut the pieces a bit wider, to compensate for the nasty elves in the sewing machine. Sew these on to the top and bottom, using a half inch seam allowance. Iron with the seam toward the border. Now that the front is complete, trim where necessary to make sure it’s even (square at the corners, same height on both sides, same width at top and bottom).

joiining growth chart

After trimming the center piece, join the top and bottom borders.

You could add any decorations you want to the front at this point. I put each child’s name at the top, piecing together letters from a fun teddy bear alphabet print. I also added a “Made with love by ‘Jewels'” tag to the bottom.

name label

I put each child’s name on his growth chart using letters from this cute teddy bear print.

5) Cut a piece of backing that is the full size of the front (should be about 11.5″ wide and 69″ long, but measure your actual piece).

6) With RIGHT sides together, pin, then sew the front and back pieces together, using a half inch seam allowance, leaving one of the short ends open, so you can turn the piece.

7) Cut diagonal triangles from the corners, so they turn neatly. Then, turn the growth chart right side out and tuck a half inch seam allowance under on the open end. Iron the whole piece flat.

trim corners

Cutting across the diagonal at the corner will give a neater finished appearance.

8) Cut two pieces of doweling that are the same length or a tiny bit shorter than the finished width of your growth chart. Attach the screw eyes to both ends of one piece.

9) Fold towards the back and sew down a 1.25″ flap on the top and bottom to create a pocket for the dowels.  This will also close the end you left open.

10) Insert the plain dowel in the bottom pocket and the one with the screw eyes in the top.  Thread a ribbon through the screw eyes to hang the chart.

finishing the chart

Finish: Sew 1.25″ flaps on the top and bottom to hold the dowels. Insert screw eyes in the top piece and thread a ribbon through for hanging.

Tada!  The finished growth charts are hanging in the hallway outside our kids’ bath, opposite the newly organized laundry area.

finished growth charts

Finished growth charts

Hope I made that clear. I’d love to see pictures, if you make one of these yourself!

This project is shared at: