A few years ago (??? seriously can’t remember how long ago it was!) I stopped at Nordstrom Rack Last Chance on a trip to Phoenix. I’ve talked about this place before but it’s where Nordstrom Rack sends a bunch of their stuff that they don’t sell in store to sell it here but cheaper. It’s jam packed with clothes and shoes and more, all at a deeply discounted price. It’s awesome and also a nightmare (the checkout line takes like 30 minutes to get through!). I’ve picked up some super great and cheap things on my trips there and on the trip a few years ago I picked up this skirt:
A very long, sparkly pink skirt complete with tulle and even crinoline. Fabulous and only $7 for a mess of fabric, what more could a girl ask for? I never intended to wear it as is, but always figured I’d alter it in some way. And a year or so ago I decided to alter the skirt just by splitting it up into three separate skirts: one for me and one for each of my girls. So that’s exactly what I did.
Spoiler alert but I kind of hated mine so you won’t be seeing any pictures of it here, and it will probably be sent to the second hand store pretty soon (it ended up just a hair too short for my comfort level and also the whole time I was working on it, I was thinking how I do love sparkles and tulle but it’s not really my flavor these days. So I was sad to not be twinning with my gals, buuuut not that sad). But anyway, cutting the skirt into three sections actually took a lot more time than I was expecting. When I inspected the skirt more closely, I could see it was a circle skirt. So I couldn’t just take a pair of scissors and l cut a straight line through the skirt. I had to carefully lay out each layer, measure the intended length about every 15 inches and then cut in a slight curve. I did this process through the layer of tulle and then through the knit under layer. I kept the crinoline but in the end decided not to use it. It would have made the skirts deliciously poofy, but I was worried it would be too scratchy for the girls so I opted to just leave it out.
Now that I’m thinking about it, aside from finishing edges (and they did have to be finished; the knit under layer was pretty poor quality), the skirt was done entirely by hand. Because I couldn’t stretch the knit to meet the tulle (it would have unraveled), I hand basted everything in place. Then I used my serger to finish the top edge where I’d basted which also connected the tulle layer to the knit lining layer. I also used my serger to hem the bottom of one of the skirts with a rolled hem. The other skirt had been cut from the very bottom of the skirt and already had a hem in place. After the edges were finished, I pinned the skirt to the elastic and-again, by hand-sewed it into place. Honestly, I don’t know how else you could attach the skirt to the elastic while still keeping the thread hidden. Maybe there’s some secret sewing machine way, but all my brain could come up with was to do it carefully by hand.
The skirts took some time because of all the hand sewing but they turned out really cute and actually fit my girls really well. I kept thinking I was making the skirts too small (even after measuring and checking my measurements several times), but they fit and stay on much better than any of their RTW skirts.
For the top I just got it in my head that an apron style top would be a cute pair with the skirt. And I found this pattern-the Raleigh-for free at Little Lizard King. I’ve never made any of their patterns before but I’ve got to be honest that I almost scrapped this whole idea just to buy and make one of their gorgeous child dress patterns-they are seriously so cute! I restrained myself this time, but now am now itching to try something else from their selection of kiddo patterns.
Why I wanted an apron style blouse I’m not exactly sure, although it probably had to do with not wanting to do anything that would be finicky with fit. When I sew for my girls, I typically sew with knits because they’re easy. Easy to fit and easy to wear. So I have very little experience making something fitted for the kids. The week of Easter didn’t seem like exactly the right time to go down that road, so I stuck with something simple.
I should also mention that my hands were a little tied here as when I was going to make these a year ago, I bought this metallic jacquard to go with the skirt. I think it’s a great match and a very pretty fabric, although I don’t know that I would’ve chosen the same thing this year. In any case, I did want to use it up so I needed something that would work with a woven fabric and the Raleigh top is drafted for wovens.
The good things about the Raleigh top are that, first, it’s super simple to sew. You do have to have a lining fabric (which I just used something from my stash that fell more closely in line with special occasion fabric) but even so, you just sew the main fabric to the lining, flip it all inside out (well, right side out, technically), sew straps and topstitch. The most difficult part for me was fixing the straps. I didn’t love that connection but it probably would have turned out better if I had done it by hand. I also think a different fabric might not have been so weird about that step. I skipped the topstitching all together partly because I didn’t have a thread that matched very well but mostly because I didn’t think it’d look very nice with the jacquard. But it really was an easy pattern to sew up and only took about an hour of sewing for both tops.
There were two downsides to the tops, neither of which were the fault of the pattern maker. The first is that the fit for my girls was a little big. This could’ve easily been fixed if I’d made a muslin but I didn’t. I made each of them their respective sizes and Wendy’s turned out very big. She’s quite a small girl so this wasn’t at all surprising to me. It was a risk and I paid the price for not muslining. The style of the top is such that things are kind of shifty so pair that with too big and there was just too much skin going on for my liking as a mother, which is why we did the undershirts.
The other downside is that for my four and five year olds, the tops are confusing to put on, ha! It’s tricky for them and they both needed help. I’m sure they could get used to it but for this particular style and fabric I honestly don’t really see them wearing these tops a whole ton. The pattern and instructions were great, well drafted and nicely done, it just wasn’t a good fit for us this time (but I will try one of their other patterns at some point!).
Even though the tops didn’t end up being a huge success, I was still happy with the final outfit result. And you live and you learn! The tops might not get a lot of wear but if I know my girls like I think I do, the skirts are going to be in heavy rotation. It’s always fun to make clothes for my girls (they still love it) and I’m excited to have found a kid-centric pattern company to try out another time.
Pattern: Raleigh top from the Little Lizard King and DIY skirt
Size: 4T and 5T for the tops
Fabric: Top-metallic jacquard from Joann; skirt-tulle and knit lining from RTW Women’s skirt
Cost: 1 yard jacquard-$10; pattern-free; Women’s skirt-$7; Elastic-$4
Would I make it again?: Probably not for my girls but it is a great pattern