The Toddlerized BSJ

I wanted to knit another Baby Surprise Jacket but didn’t have an actual baby around to make it for.  So instead, I toddlerized that sucker for Maggie!

toddlerized bsj

Following is an in-depth look at how I did it and everything you need to know to make one, too.

Things You Should Know

  • You must have a copy of the pattern to follow along.  The Baby Surprise Jacket is available in The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting Workshop, a couple of back issues of Knitter’s and as a $3 single pattern leaflet from Schoolhouse Press.  You have no reason not to own your own copy. [Ravelry]
  • It would be very helpful if you have already knit a regular BSJ without modifications.
  • I have a hunch that two- and three-year-olds have the same chest circumference as sweet little infant babies.  Mine did, maybe yours do, too.  That’s good here because then the key numbers in the pattern don’t change.
  • Like EZ says, slip the first stitch of every row.  I do it knit-wise, though I have never been quite sure this was correct.
  • I eliminated the sleeve increases, and instead began with 18 additional stitches when I cast on.  This is explained briefly in The Opinionated Knitter on page 106.
  • Overall there are very few changes to the original pattern, but the little tweaks I’ll discuss below make all the difference in the toddlerization process.  Keep your headlights on.
  • Gauge: 19 sts = 4″ over garter stitch.  With the sport weight yarn I used [Hello Yarn Fat Sock, Marzipan, 2 skeins] this gauge produces a stretcy, loose and nearly lightweight material.


Change #1 Provisionally cast on the specified number of stitches using a smooth yarn.  I did this by casting on (long tail, as usual) with cotton yarn, knitting a row, then joining in the sweater yarn and starting immediately with row 1 of the pattern.  Cotton is important for the cast-on if you’re using wool for the sweater, so that the provisional stitches are easier to free later on.


Solid green yarn above is the provisional cast-on.

Now knit the pattern as normal, through decreases and increases until you get to the point in the pattern that says “…work on center 90 sts. only, for 10 ridges…”

Change #2 This section of the pattern determines body length and for a toddler you’ll want it a bit longer.  I knit the center section for 14 ridges.

After picking up stitches along the edges of the section just completed continue again as written except for:

Change #3 Make the sweater slightly wider by knitting more ridges before the buttonholes.  I did nine ridges before the buttonholes and two after.  NB: I only made buttonholes on one side, but that is neither here nor there, and makes very little difference in the end.

Now for the fun part.  Or the tedious part, if that’s how you wish to look at it.  I thought of it as fun because without all the tedium you just have a pile of knitted garter stitch that doesn’t look like anything.  Although come to think of it that doesn’t sound too bad.  Moving on.

The order of things to follow, in brief.

  • Cast off live stitches.
  • Put all provisionally cast on stitches on threads until you are ready to knit them.
  • Lengthen sleeves.
  • Join tops of sleeves to back and seam.  Simultaneously.
  • Bind off remaining stitches.

Here’s how I did it.

From the right side, and using a needle one size smaller than you used for the body, cast off using the i-cord cast-off method using three stitches (I used the one described on pg. 55 of The Opinionated Knitter).  Begin at the neck edge, continue down the front edge, around the back bottom edge, up the opposite edge, around the neck to where the sleeve joins the back.  Here, I’ll show you.

The star shows where to begin and the arrow shows the direction of the knitting (not that I needed to explain that to you, smart knitter that you are).  When you get to the end, leave the last three i-cord stitches on a holder.  Like this (except put them on an actual holder, not a needle, because the needle will indubitably fall out).

top of sleeve

Now the time has come to liberate those cast-on stitches from so long ago.  Put the stitches from both ends of the cast-on row — the stitches before the first line of decreases and after the second line of decreases — onto separate holders.  That is where you’ll lengthen the sleeves.  The center stitches go on their own holder.

To lengthen the sleeve, join in the yarn on one end section and knit back and forth until the sleeve is the desired length.  I added thirteen ridges and probably could have done a few more.  Do not bind off.  Repeat on the other sleeve.

toddlerized bsj

Oh, please don’t look so confused.  We’re getting there now.

You are ready to join the top of the sleeve to the back using a three-needle i-cord cast-off.  Count the number of stitches on the sleeve top (excluding cuff), then put a matching number of back stitches on a needle ready to join.  Begin at the star…

…and perform the magical trick known as the three-needle i-cord cast-off down the top edge until you reach the cuff.  Go back to regular i-cording around the cuff edge until all the stitches are cast-off.  Finish off the i-cord then sew it neatly where it meets the corner.  So far so good.

toddlerized bsj

How beautiful is that seam?  And no sewing needle required!

But back to business.  Do the same for the second sleeve, but this time start at the cuff, i-cord cast-off around, then join the top sleeve stitches to an equal number of back stitches with the the three-needle i-cord cast-off.    You will also i-cord around the second half of the neck to join up with the beginning of these i-cord escapades. Thusly:

We’re nearly there now.  All that’s left to i-cord is the remaining live stitches at the back of the neck.


Some Other Notes

  • When you i-cord cast-off around an outside corner, add a row of i-cord that doesn’t connect.  This helps keeps those corners neat and square.
  • If you have remembered to slip the first stitch of each row, it will be so much easier to do all the i-cording.  If you have forgotten, well there’s not much to do.  Use a tiny needle to pick up the stitches, maybe?  That might work.  Try not to forget the slipping.

I had such fun making this sweater and wrestling with the finishing details.  Please enjoy this little unvention of mine and let me know if you try it, have any trouble with the instructions or have any suggestions.  I bet if you toddlerize your own BSJ, you’ll probably do some unventing of your own along the way.  Yippee!

toddlerized bsj

One last picture for good measure.
OH!  I almost forgot.  There’s one little “mistake” that I know you won’t believe me when I say I did it on purpose.  I did.  If you find the mistake you may award yourself 15 Cool Points.  Good luck.

26 thoughts on “The Toddlerized BSJ

  1. Thank goodness for Ravelry!!

    I’ve been thinking about “toddler-izing” a BSJ for a while, but haven’t gotten past the “well, I guess I should use a provisional cast on” stage. I am so thankful that someone else has done the leg work and written it up so thoroughly. Thank you!!

    And the rest of your blog looks pretty wonderful as well… Plink! You’ve been added to my “must read” list!

  2. The colours are gorgeous and so is Maggie! It was interesting to see how you made your toddler version. I followed the adult version pattern but made it to measure for my two year old grand-daughter, Grace. I measured across the width of one of her favourite jackets and based my stitch count on that measurement. I also lengthened the sleeves as per the adult pattern and it worked a treat. You can see my toddler version here: and also here:

  3. Awesome! And your daughter is absolutely adorable – I love the confused picture. Now where is your project on Ravelry so I can favorite it? :)

  4. Wish I could go straight to toddler. I haven’t made the baby size yet. Thanks for the instructions. It’s super cute, of course.

  5. thanks for your notes! i might have to try making one of these as well! it looks adorable on maggie. it looks like she is getting so big!

  6. THIS IS GREAT. YOU are right about circuferences. they don’t change much. i love this and adrian’s yarn that i hopefully will see in real life eventually.

    and speaking about little girls. little alba, 2 years old today, wants to hold the knitting needle now. or use the measure tape like she was some kind of snake charmer.

  7. This is awesome! Thanks so much for your clear and terrific notes. I’ve made 2 BSJ’s and am on my third – -not only is your finishing technique really slick, but I feel like I understand where all the sizing decisions are for the BSJ now, so I can sort of own the pattern myself and make it work for any kid or yarn! Found you by looking on Ravelry for Fat Sock BSJs, which I’m dying to try!

  8. thanks so much. I’ve wanted to do this for ages and with your help, I’ve done it. I’m so pleased with this larger bsj and love the look of the stocking stich diagonal line.

  9. Thank you so much for doing up this pattern in a toddler size! I was dreading doing it myself as I’ve only made one BSJ (making every mistake possible on the way!). BTW – that darling named Maggie is ADORABLE! She’s just so lovely and smoochable!

  10. Hi! I’m following your instructions, nearly done now, but am stuck on the three-needle i-cord cast-off. I can’t find any source for how to do this. Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks for the beautiful and inspiring BSJ!

  11. I love this! thank you so much. really like the look of the i cord cast off not sure i have done it right with the three needles? kinda winged it. looks good though. not sure i found the deliberate mistake

  12. Thanks so much for the very clear instructions. Can I ask please. 1. When you knitted 14 ridges for the centre did you still only pickup 10sts each side of the flap. And did you also start each row of this flap with a slipped stitch.
    2. With your provisional caston, you said you did a longtail caston in a smooth yarn. When it came to unravelling this caston, did you snip the first stitch to get it to unravel. I have tried a couple of provisional castons and yes I manage the caston ok, but when it comes to unravelling (or unpicking) what a mess I get into. I drop stitches and completely lose stitches.
    I also seem to be hopeless at pickingup sts. I have just frogged for the second time my second BSJ! I experimented doing a three needle BO for the shoulder seam. I had live sts one side of this seam (from a provisional caston and had to pickup on the other side (where you start the row by slipping the first stitch). I slipped all my first stitches of each row purlways and the stitches seemed stretched. When I did the three needle bindoff, the side with the pickedup stitches was extremely messy.
    Many thanks.

  13. Love the toddler version! She looks pretty happy with it too ….

    Just a tip … I’ve found that if I slip the LAST st, rather than the first, I get a neater edge (probably just the way I knit). Slipping either “knit wise” or “purl-wise” doesn’t matter, as long as you always do it the same way.

  14. I love your modifications and am attempting to follow them. I made a baby version for a friend who is expecting. It turned out so beautifully that I’m attempting one for her 3 year old so she can match the new baby. Everything seems straight forward. I’m new to i-cord and three needle bind-off’s but the instructions I’ve found seem really easy and I love the look. What I can’t find is detailed instructions for a 3 needle I-cord bind-off and I just can’t picture it on my own. Can you provide any further instructions on how to do this?



  15. I’m currently working on my first BSJ. Doing fine, after frogging 3 times… I’m saving your directions and hoping I can use them to make a BSJ for my 6 yr. old grand daughter. Afraid this jacket will be on my needles until I can master the I-cord bind off. lol Thank you for your post!

  16. I am delighted to discover your instructions. I do not understand where the x-tra 18 sts cast on go in the count if you follow the original BSJ pattern. Do they all end up in the center ??? So you adjust the numbers accordingly ??

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