If I were to describe my signature style, I’d say it was clean classic pieces with unforgettable details. Sometimes the details aren’t even visible, like inside finishes and deep hems that denote quality and attention. And sometimes they’re quintessential details that take a t-shirt from plain to exceptional. I love how clothing can create of showcase shape, and how it can also be an avenue for expression and personality.
This week–Signature Style week–I’ve tried to encompass all the things I love about sewing and about fashion into a cohesive look that “fits” each of my girls both physically and their personalities. I also thought about this Project Run & Play experience and how I could think about everything I’ve created (17 pieces total) as a collection of sorts. This final week has nods to each of the other weeks and ties everything together as a way of closing the circle and completing this amazing sewing experience. So let’s take a look at this week from oldest to youngest. This is long, so hold on!
Saige recently turned eight and was baptized in our church. It’s customary to have a white dress to wear after the baptism, and I knew I wanted to create something special for her day that she could wear to church regularly. So even though this was for a special occasion, she wears it all the time. Because of this, I started with an older IKEA curtain I’ve been saving. I love that it has a simple stripe and little texture to it without being too fancy. Since it’s sheer, I lined it with the same ivory fabric as Maya’s shirt last week.
I started with the bodice from the Penelope Dress from Violette Fields Threads because I knew I wanted soft details on the bodice front and that pattern fit the bill. Everything from the pin tucks to the pearl buttons and Peter Pan collar are the kind of details I love.
I added a lining to the bodice and then added a separate waistband at her natural waist to emphasize her waist and as a natural place to put a sash. I made her an Ivory-colored sash for her baptism and then a teal sash for regular wear for a fun splash of color.
The skirt though–that’s where I went to town. I have a love for Victorian fashion, and as I was looking at photos a while back Saige noticed a bustled dress and fell in love with it (I did too). So I knew I wanted the skirt to have a Victorian flair without being too overpowering.
I wanted a classic flat front and a bustled back. I used the bodice measurements to draft an A-line skirt front so that all the attention in the front goes to the bodice. And then you turn around.
I used the same shape as the front piece but doubled the width and added 12″ to the length so that I could add three rows of bustling. The pleats at the side seams are folded down, and then the center is pulled into French bustles. This gives it some really interesting flow and drape. I had to bustle both the outer and lining layers together to give them shape, which was challenging because they wanted to react differently to the bustling. Needless to say I pinned at least four times before tacking everything down, and then once I could see how everything draped when it was on a body, I adjusted and redid several tucks.
I fought the urge to make it floor length because I felt like that would have been too much and the tea length makes it more suitable for regular wear in this case. There is a slight high-low effect with all the bustling that I love. And then when all that was done, I added a row of white ruffles to the bottom from just the sheer fabric. I love that it’s clean, crisp, and age appropriate with just the right amount of Victorian flair.
And what goes with bustle skirts? Jackets. I started with the Phresh Blazer from Winter Wear Designs because I’ve made it for Saige before and knew how well it fit her shape. I used some lovely black pinstripe stretch twill from CaliFabrics because it was just the right weight and so classic. It would stand out beautifully against the white dress.
I wanted the style of the jacket to be a touch more Victorian to go with the dress, so I redrafted the front panels to cross her body in an arch instead of meeting in a V. I also added to the height of the collar and reshaped it to meet the curved front panels. I wanted to use some black pleated trim I bought several years ago and have never found the “right” project for, and this was just the place to use it. I inserted the trim into the collar and then extended it down and around the whole outer edge of the jacket back to the other side of the collar. I also added two more rows of the trim to the back of the jacket.
And don’t forget the details like the welt pockets (which I had to reshape due to the front panel changes), inside lining in a fun green/black/white print, and five brass buttons that pop off the black fabric and add just the right amount of bling. The jacket is actually closed using three hooks-and-bars rather than the buttons though to make it easier for little hands (those bulky buttons are tricky to button).
For Brynley, I wanted something that fits her personality as well as Saige’s outfit fits hers. They’re really different girls though, so in order to make their looks cohesive I used colors to tie them together. Brynley’s look starts is basically a t-shirt, jean skirt, and cardigan. But even these classic basics got some fun details.
Her skirt is a fun, different take on a denim skirt (because she would live in a denim skirt if she could) in a laminated denim from CaliFabrics that I stamped a floral image onto. This denim is thick and sturdy and I dare her to wear it out (she’s so hard on clothes–ha!). I love that the flowers have a worn-in look that will continue to wear with the denim.
I used the Linden Shorts and Skirt pattern by Sew a Little Seam to start with, but I wanted a button placket down the middle front instead of a fly so I tweaked the front pieces and added button plackets. I love how much it changes the look of the skirt.
I also put welt pockets in the front as a fun alternative to regular, slant, or patch pockets. They’re nice and deep and use the same cotton lining as her sister’s jacket. It’s also utilized on the waistband, where I did button front and elastic back so it would fit her for longer.
Finally, I left the bottom of the skirt unhemmed, which is a departure for me–I don’t typically like the frayed look. But for some reason I love it this time. I stitched pretty close to the edge though, so it can’t fray much more than it already has and I’ll trim any strings that do come loose until the fraying reaches the stitching to help keep it neat.
I wanted to keep the curved ruffles from Saige’s look going, so I combined an ivory cotton lycra with a sheer striped fabric I had at home. I started with the Schooner Tee and Dress from Jennuine Designs and slashed the front of the shirt from the bottom of the flutter sleeve down to just above the hem at the side seam and inserted a ruffle into both the sleeve and the body of the shirt.
I also added the same ruffle around the bottom of the shirt, and love how sweet the details are while maintaining an ultra-comfortable feel for my rough-and-tumble girl.
And then there’s the teal cardigan that I want to steal for myself. I keep seeing a similar cardigan for women and wanted to recreate it using the Greenpoint Cardigan from Hey June. I sized down for a slimmer fit, shortened both the body and the sleeves, and doubled the waistband and sleeve cuffs for a more modern look. And then added nine small brass buttons (again from Grandma’s collection) for a polished look that pops against the teal ponte from CaliFabrics. Basically, I just love her look.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I recently had a herringbone backsplash installed and am completely smitten with it. And my curiosity got the better of me and I soon found myself cutting 2″ x 4″ strips of fabric and piecing them together. It was brilliant and crazy. But what could I do with it? (Photo is of the back side prior to trimming threads–look at all those seams pressed the same way!)
I was perusing patterns, and noticed Leah’s Wrap Top from Simple Life Pattern Co. and realized I could use my herringbone as one side of the wrap. I decided to use the stair-step of the herringbone as the neckline.
Since I was using a black/white seersucker with small stripes and the herringbone was already pretty busy visually, I decided the other front panel needed to be white to really showcase the stair step design and not detract from the herringbone at all. I also used some bangle bead trim as piping around the edges (it was tricky, trust me) to really make it pop.
I opted for a sleeveless dress because I just didn’t want anything to detract from the front, but I made sure to use the burrito method for a fully lined and enclosed armscye that’s just as beautiful inside as it is out. The back bodice has a vertical stripe orientation, and when you tie the dress, the horizontal ties run across the back. Add that to the horizontal orientation of the skirt and it’s simple yet beautiful in the back.
And I couldn’t help but add one more band of vertical stripe around the bottom of the gathered skirt. Like I said, I love the subtle details.
I also have to give huge props to my girls who were troopers and did a photo shoot while sick–it was a rough day, but they were so cooperative!
And that’s my look for Signature Style! If you haven’t already, go check out the other designers’ looks and vote for the final time over at Project Run & Play.