Monday, January 12, 2015

Dressing Up a Young Lady

Genevieve is 9, and this is an awkward stage to dress because girl clothes don't come in size 9.  Size 8 goes straight to size 10, and often it is not just size 10, but size 10-12.  Clearly someone made a mistake, yes?  Because I have a beautiful tall string-bean and commercial clothes either fit her shoulders while her wrists and knees stick out (size 8), or come down decently over her wrists and knees, but bag and sag off her shoulders and slender torso (size 10).  And this is just for school uniforms and play clothes - try finding something that can be called dressy!

Plus, I think it's a tricky balance to strike a sweet, yet not babyish or too adult, look for a girl this age (I cannot bring myself to call her a tween - sorry). I think we might be entering the era of be-resigned-to-a-time-investment-and-take-G-shopping-so-she-can-try-on-clothes. My current method is to run errands alone during the school day, doing my research and thinking ahead of time so I can be in and out of a familiar clothing store in 10 minutes if there are no lines.  I rarely browse in a store because I don't always make good decisions on the fly (thus frustrating the marketing and design of all retail stores - oh darn).

So here are my latest solutions for Genevieve's dressy clothes.

This is a gored skirt I made for her using a vintage pattern borrowed from Rebecca.


Although I measured the girl and read the pattern carefully, the skirt ended up being inches too large at the waist (another rant: trying to fit skirts that stay up on girls whose waist and hips are the same - yes, there is elastic, but I was trying for a slightly dressier, more grown-up look here).

I did not remove the waistband and reduce the waistband and seams; I simply sewed the side seam smaller, including the waistband as well, and then I cut off the excess inside. This is considered sloppy sewing, but I thought the repair would be hidden enough.  I added belt loops.


Now Genevieve can adjust the waist to fit and hide the seamed waistband behind the belt as well.  Braided belts are fabulous for children because they are full of holes, so you can buckle the belt however tight or loose it needs to be.  I found this belt at a thrift store for $2.


Showing a tiny flash of the yellow bias tape I used to finish the hem.

Genevieve is also wearing her brown boots, bought from Kohl's in the fall with a coupon, and a red shirt that was passed down to her by a friend.  I used fabric from my stash for this skirt, but I chose carefully so that the skirt goes with several sweaters and shirts that she already has.  And given the length and waistband of this skirt, I hope it lasts for several years.

Then Rebecca's Clara passed down a vintage linen shift to Genevieve.  We are using it like a jumper in the winter, and hoping it will be a sleeveless shift in the spring and fall (it's lined with polyester, so I'm not sure she will want to wear it in summer). I had so much fun going through my scarves and things to see how we could style this dress; I didn't buy anything new to go with it.

This peasant blouse.  I added a tiny vintage velvet collar  - it's just buttoned around the neck and is much too small for me, but so exquisite I had it tucked in with my scarves. She could wear brown boots and tights with this.  Or black flats and black tights.


Long-sleeved cream tee with another of those exquisite collars, this one beaded with seed pearls.  Crazy tights, plus black flats or brown boots.  But of course, she could wear cream tights with black flats.

The long-sleeved tee again, this time with this infinity scarf at the neck.


Genevieve herself, wearing the shift with a white button-down, crazy tights, and black flats.


She is nine years old, so beautiful and funny, and definitely a strawberry blonde in the sunlight.

17 comments:

Alica said...

You're amazing! I like the look of the crazy tights...and I also like the outfit with the infinity scarf. The combinations are limitless.
Now if only I could get my almost 16 year old to wear something other than jeans and a t-shirt. Yes, It's relatively cheap dressing :) but I'd like to dress her up a little sometimes!

Rebecca said...

Gorgeous girl, gorgeous clothes.

Margo said...

Alica, thank you! I tried to convince G to wear a denim skirt with a nice top for church, but she said denim was too casual and she flatly refuses to wear pants to church. Contrast that to your girl - aren't kids funny?!

Lana said...

She is adorable! I remember this age with my own two girls and there is no good answer. Patterns are just cut too wide for most at this age.

If I had to go back to this age I might think about looking at thrift stores for size 1 or 3 juniors dresses and skirts since they are typically pretty short anyway. They may work.

Rozy Lass said...

This is the very reason I sewed my daughter's clothes. She was a size 6 around, but a size 12 up and down. So I used a size six pattern and adjusted its length in several places. On skirts I just lengthened them. Knit tops were easy to find at thrift stores. They all seem to outgrow the twiggy stage eventually, but while they're going through it can be a bit challenging. You've done a great job of outfitting her. I think her attitude to church clothes is admirable! I feel denim is too casual also, and in our church pants are discouraged, simply by the custom of the women wearing dresses or skirts. Worship, while joyful, is serious business and should be a dress-up occasion. Just my two cents.

jenny_o said...

Such pretty things to wear! And in that last photo, your girl looks very like you! Ah, I wish my girl was that age again - well, sometimes :)

Jan said...

It looks like you had real fun together as you created this post. Jx

Tammy said...

Cute outfits! It is hard to find things for my daughter who is almost 6 - she's not quite in the girls size yet but a lot of clothing companies quit making "toddler" sizes after 4T.

I have a friend whose son is hard to buy pants for - same problem as you describe with nothing between 8 and 10/12.

MDiskin said...

I have a tall stringbean 9YO girl (and a younger one only slightly less string-beanish). The waist/hip conundrum is impossible to solve... unless you obviate it altogether as you did with the pink shift. Genius!

How are those pretty collars put on? do they just lie on top and hook to themselves back or front, like a necklace? (Sorry, flu brain today isn't making sense of simple things...)

Margo said...

MDiskin, right, the answer to the hipless girls is dresses! And probably not the ones at the mall, either, but more likely homesewn ones or vintage.

The collars are like necklaces - they just lay around the neck and button to themselves at the front. Sorry about the flu. . .

Catherine said...

Love this post! Do you think you might start up "Shoestring Chic" again?

Christy said...

Omg. Love the skirt and boots. Lucky girl. The pink shift w/ white collared shirt...the infinity scarf. Fun, respectable and beautiful. Love, love!

Margo said...

Catherine, I haven't thought about Shoestring Chic for a while, but thanks for your interest. . . could be quite interesting if I use my mish mash of maternity clothes (and then post-partum strangeness) or the solutions we're using for G. I'll keep it in mind.

Julian said...

Very pretty girl! Her eyes just pop! I like the outfits, they are perfect! Enjoy this age... it goes so fast. My daughter is 16. :)
Christina

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness... I want! Can you duplicate these outfits for a size 18?? I want you to know that I have dusted off an inherited sewing machine and am starting my first 'real' sewing project thanks to the inspiration I've gotten from your blog. :) Long time reader, first comment! -Maria

Margo said...

Maria, your comment makes me so happy! Thank you! and happy sewing :)

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Adorable.. Love, love the skirt.. Very smart way to fix the waist.. Have done the same with my skinny granddaughters..
and the dress is beautiful..Love it on G with the cute tights.. Great outfits..
One of my granddaughters is so tiny..I have to make all her church clothes..There are no RTW that will fit her tiny waist/shoulders and be long enough.. eeeh.

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