I tell you, this second child, she is a character.
Among other eccentricities, she will not wear her sister’s hand-me-downs, on account of they are not pretty enough to suit her. She only wears party dresses, and beautiful skirts with adorable tops.
I’m a pretty indulgent momma overall, in that I think a child has the right to wear what she wants and do what she wants and think what she wants, as long as she’s not infringing on anybody else’s rights. So, sure, you want to wear skirts and dresses and lace and tulle every day? Go right ahead!
Unfortunately, the caveat is that I will not pay more than two dollars for any item of clothing, two dollars being the going price of a top or bottom at our local Goodwill.
You can’t always find a beautiful child’s skirt at Goodwill, at least one that’s just my child’s particular size. You can, however, always find as many beautiful button-down shirts as you can carry. Here’s how to turn one into the beautiful skirt of my child’s dreams:
You will need:
- Adult button-down shirt, men’s or women’s. For an average-sized child under the age of seven or so, any adult size will do.
- Seam ripper
- Rotary cutter, self-healing cutting mat, and scissors for fabric
- Fabric measuring tape
- Sewing machine with a universal needle and matching thread installed
- Elastic, whatever you have on hand of 1/4″ to 1/2″ width
1. Measure around your child’s waist and from her waist to her ankle. Her waist measurement minus 2″ will be the length of elastic that you’ll need. Her waist to ankle measurement will be the maximum length that your skirt can be, although it can, of course, be shorter.
2. Button the shirt and iron it perfectly flat, being careful of the buttons.
3. If your shirt has a pocket, you’re going to include that pocket in your skirt, without moving it. Make sure that your cutting line falls at least 2″ above the top of the pocket. Otherwise, choose the button on the shirt that you want to be the top button of your skirt. Cut horizontally across the top of the shirt 1″ above the button.
It’s okay if you’ve got some sleeve left on your shirt after you’ve cut that top line. If you do have some sleeve left, cut it off while leaving an extra 1/4″ past the sides of your skirt. Then turn the shirt inside out and sew up the cut sides so that they’re even with the side seam, and finish your seam with pinking shears.
4. Unbutton your shirt, and turn down the top edge 1″ to the inside. Then cut off the top button at this time, but don’t lose it- you’ll sew it back on later.
5. Starting with the end at which you cut off the button, sew a casing for an elastic waist all the way across the top edge of the skirt. Sew the elastic to the casing at the button-end, and sew the other end of the elastic to the casing about one inch from the other buttonhole-end. Don’t cover up the buttonhole, or you won’t be able to button that top button!
6. After the elastic is sewn down at both ends, trim the casing away from the inside of the buttonhole using pinking shears so that the fabric won’t unravel. On the other end of the skirt, sew the button back on in its previous position, sewing through the casing and the elastic.
7. Button the skirt back, and you’re done!
Your child will be able to slip the skirt on, since it’s elastic-waisted, but she can also unbutton and button it to take it off and put it on. Don’t forget to show her that pocket!
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