Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Modest Wardrobe Solution: Sew Skirts!

How do you clothe a 5'3" twelve year old who is still growing at the speed of light? It's not like you can run down to the department stores and find a suitable modest outfit. I typically can find something if they're a size 16 and under or even a misses size 4 or larger, but there's that "no-man's-land" in between... the time where young girls are neither "little girls" nor ready to call themselves "young ladies" that's always troublesome. 

I should mention at this point that we don't even try to shop the Juniors departments in most stores because the issue of modesty is non-existant unless you're extremely thin and have short legs. I had the same issue when my oldest was in this phase of life and I suspect I'll face it again when the youngest is there as well. Do other mothers have the same difficulty or is it just me? Someone should start a line of clothing called "In Between Tween and Teen". They'd make a fortune. 

So in my frustration, I decided it was time to sew some skirts. While there are still very few patterns out there geared specifically for modest in-betweeners, at least you can make adjustments to meet your needs. I did find one pattern that was just below the knee and if you prefer longer skirts, I'm sure you could extend the yoke at the top or the trim at the bottom. I think it would look really cute with a pair of cowgirl boots or in just a couple of fabrics if the wild pattern of many is too much.

I decided to make the "classic" version (on the left) and use some coordinating fabrics that would look lovely with my tween's blue eyes. Because she's 12 going on 16, I thought it would be best to use some more mature fabrics along with some fun geometrics and use several to keep it a bit funky. The last thing I wanted to do was spend time making a skirt that she wouldn't wear because it looked "old lady" like.

If you're planning on making this skirt, it really is easy but the instructions would not be adequate for a true beginner. She does not clearly state that certain parts need to be gathered (such as the main portion where you've pieced the fabrics which must be attached to the yoke that is not gathered) and neither does she tell you how to gather. This wasn't an issue for me since I've sewn for years, but I could imagine the frustration of someone just starting out! 

Also, I didn't cut it out the way she suggested. I know all the fabrics should be cut the same direction so as to hang correctly, but to do so would take nearly twice the amount of fabric. (Have you priced material lately?!!) Perhaps I shouldn't have done so, but I turned the pieces a quarter turn so as to keep the cost down. With all the top stitching, it did not seem to affect the way it looks in any way.

Fabrics coming together.
Despite several small mistakes, I was pleased with how the skirt came out. And thankfully, my 12 year old was thrilled and anxious to wear it! She paired it with a dressy white t-shirt and a brown 3/4 length sleeve cardigan sweater with a ruffled edge (it's still cool here!). She looked lovely and modest, yet not frumpy. Just what we were aiming for.

The finished skirt!
It wouldn't do to not make something for the 9 year old, too, so I whipped up an easy skirt with left over material and trim without a pattern. It was basically just two strips of fabric cut on the fold, sewn into tubes and a gathered waistband, which works for the more petite little girls, but not so much for those who are starting to develop a more mature figure. You should have seen her Sunday with her skirt and red cowboy boots! So darling!

Since it's been a while since I've sewn, I had to find new pattern companies, websites, etc. Pink Fig has some cute things as does Butterfly Kisses, but most are for the toddler to size 10 crowd. Fairytale Frocks and Lollipops has an entire section on just Tween/Teen patterns, but you'll have to sift through a few to find the gems.

How do you dress a tween or teen modestly? Any ideas for where you like to shop or a great pattern?


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