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The flower meadow {handmade for Kitty}


Space for the Butterflies - a Gathered Skirt for all ages

Kitty has been growing again.  With all the time she spends in school uniform now I’d almost forgotten that she needed more than a couple of outfits of home clothes until we got to half term and realised that she has precisely one pair of leggings that ‘fit’, by which we mean that she’ll wear them even though they stop half way up her calves, and while she loves skirts and dresses, most of her winter dresses from last year were too short.

I always knew that we’d reach a point where clothing Kit became a problem because of her height but I’ll admit that I was thinking early teenage years not five.  But five she is, and wearing size 7-8 clothes she’s just too little to be wearing a lot of the styles out on the high street that would fit her.  School uniform was no problem, though we had to switch to knee socks rather than tights as the tights that are long enough are big enough around the top that she can haul them up over her shoulders.  Snug for the winter, yes, prone to falling down, alas also yes.

I haven’t solved the tights conundrum, and if anyone has gone through this or has any brilliant ideas please please please shout out in the comments, but I do know how to solve the problem of no clothes.

In my studio I have a lovely adored stash of Oliver + S patterns and I did briefly flick through them before I remembered that one of the reasons I love than is the intricate detail and the polish on their finishes.  They make incredible clothes of the sort that will definitely be going in the memory box, but quick they are not.  Well not at the speed I sew anyway.

So I went back to a good old tried and tested pattern, Purl Bee’s A Gathed Skirt for All Ages, last used for make the girls the matching but not matching skirts that they wore all summer long.  They are still one of the first things they grab out of the laundry basket, now layered up with tights or socks so I knew another one was likely to be a hit.

Space for the Butterflies - a Gathered Skirt for all ages

And in one of those moments of funny synchronisity when I went to the stash for fabric, thinking off a bushed cotton tartan and wondering whether it was really thick enough, there on the top was a length of pink and purple flowery corduroy bought in the same John Lewis sale as the other skirts.  I’d meant it to be a pinafore or some sort of winter dress for Kitty at the time, and the fact that there was now just the perfect amount for a skirt will tell you how long ago I bought it.

Space for the Butterflies - a Gathered Skirt for all ages

In the summer I made the size 5-6 which was perfect then, but without too much growing room so for Kitty’s winter version I sized up to the 7-8, and added an inch for extra length.

Space for the Butterflies - a Gathered Skirt for all ages

Here’s how to add length to A Gathered Skirt for All Ages.   The pattern pieces are all cut as rectangles of various shapes and sizes, you cute two main panel pieces, two side panel pieces, two pockets and one waistband.  The waistband stays the same but you need to adjust the others.

First, work out how much extra length you want to add.  Add that length to the short side of the main panels.

Then divide that extra length by two and add the result to the long side of the side panel pieces and the long side of the pocket pieces. You are essentially splitting the extra length between the pocket and the side so that the pockets stay at about the right height and a comfortable depth.

So on the 7-8:

Space for the Butterflies - hot to add length to a gathered skirt for all ages from the purl bee

It all sews up in exactly the same way as before.

Space for the Butterflies - a Gathered Skirt for all ages

The corduroy sewed up like a dream right until I got to the waistline gathers.  It is a bulkier fabric than the pattern recommends and getting the gathers to sit nicely and be gathered rather than oddly pleated was a bit of a challenge despite all my rows of baste stitching.  I think there are some bits where it’s wouldn’t hold up to intense scrutiny but it will definitely hold up to ‘back of a galloping five year old’ scrutiny and that’s what really matters.  The pattern helps too, because the waist is gathered and then elasticated, anything that didn’t go quite right in the gathers is evened out by the elastic.

So. Some maths on the train home, one evening to cut out the pieces, another evening to sew it together and finally on Sunday morning after a quick measure around Kitty with the elastic, one nice new skirt just in time for Sunday church.

Space for the Butterflies - a Gathered Skirt for all ages

Kitty loves it.  Which is a relief, but with the triumvirate of pink and purple, pockets and a skirt I was fairly certain we’d be on to a winner. And my rough guess of how much extra length to add seems to have been about right. I think looking at it I can be quietly confident of getting two winters’ wear out of it before she grows ever taller.

By which point, if I start right now, I might just have managed to finish one of those lovely Oliver + S patterns!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Crafting On and Make Do & Push for Funky Kid Friday