kcw guest post by tara from girl like the sea

HOW TO make clothes that dress up and dress down

Hello! Tara here. I blog at girl like the sea when I’m not keeping my rowdy household from descending into total chaos (it might be doing so as I type….)

I’m a firm believer in versatility when it comes to clothes. Ain’t nobody got time to be making too many things that are rarely used. I’ve got some inspiration for you today on versatility and styling for your little ones’ wardrobes. So here are a few ideas on dressing up and down your creations  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The almighty cardi

Cardigans can be used on boys and girls, and be dressed up and down depending on what you pair them with, and worn practically year round in many climates. Pair it with a button down and skinnies for a semi-formal look, jeans to go casual, or put it under a jacket or blazer to go to an event.

  • Pattern Ideas:

Hey June Greenpoint Cardigan
Peek a boo pattern shop skinny jeans 
Titchy threads has a skinny jean pattern for free in 2T


sources: Milk, crafterhours, cirque du bebe


The peter pan collar

I don’t need to wax poetic about the peter pan collar. The sewing world has been enamored of this collar for quite some time, and though I was last one to the Peter party, I’m sold now.
Put a peter pan collar on it. Tee shirt, dress, tunic. That garment can then be styled up and down with accessories.
Below, the Hanami dress and tunic pattern by Straightgrain is pictured as sewn by Cherie from You and Mie.  A great example of a formal styling.
  • Other pattern ideas:

Nessie top by craftiness is not optional for a knit top

Tutorial From Petit A Petit and Family for adding a peter pan collar to a top


 source: you and mie
Here is the Hanami pattern again, but in double gauze. Double gauze has an oddly luxurious informality to it. I think you can wear it anywhere



















source: straight grain


Not just for boys. Not just for special occasions. Vests can be worn formal with a button down and slacks, or with a skirt. And they can dress down with jeans and a tee. For girls, a ruffle or the addition of other details like sequins or a floral print can elevate a boy/unisex look into their world.
I think a vest in suiting paired with a skinny jean or harem pant is pretty stinkin’ adorable. And with a cute little man hat on a boy, or flower headband on a girl? So great.
  • Pattern Ideas:

sources: better off thread, skirt as top, Shwin and Shwin


sources: zara, supermarket

Pleated pants

Pleated pants default to dressy pretty easily, but I love that you can style them down with come casual pairings. Plus there’s just something really cute about tiny people in grown up looking things like pleated pants.
Below, there are a few examples of pleated pants dressed down, and a cardigan makes another appearance.
  • Pattern ideas:


source sewing like mad, behind the hedgerow

source: girl like the sea

Dressing up the casual

This kid below is wearing sweatpants. But is he REALLY wearing sweatpants? Or is he wearing stylish knit bottoms with that little button down and bowtie?
Bowties, suspenders, and ties all elevate anything they’re worn with. Plus, if you use a pants pattern with some special details, you can really pass those sweats off as totally trendy.
  • Pattern Ideas:
Figgy’s Seraphic pant pattern – Knit pants with pockets, faux fly, and center leg seam (hello! piping opportunity!)
Color block necktie tutorial by Petit a petit and family
Bow tie tutorial by Sewing In No Man’s Land


source: little hanbury


Personally, I’m a huge blazer fan. Maybe this will be the year I actually get my act together and make one. Boys and girls can wear them. You can make them in crazy fun fabrics for little ones too. They are simple to dress up and down so you don’t have to leave it in the closet until there’s someplace special to wear it.
Blazer + Slacks or pleated pant or dressy skirt = Formal
Blazer + Button down shirt or tee and jeans or skirt = Going out
Blazer + tee and jeans or skirt or sweats plus slouchy beanie = Awesome
  • Pattern Ideas:
Basic Blazer by blank slate patterns

sources: zara, max california

sources: IKKS, mini little things

I loved the sequin detail on this blazer for girls

source: a subtle revelry

Now for a word on dress up

No, not formal wear. The kind of dress up your kids actually like. My preferences for sewing still stand; I prefer multipurpose clothes. So when fashioning dress up or costumes I consider their usefulness outside the house. Either that or I try to make everyday wear with a whimsical edge and possibility for dress upI’ve made some discoveries since beginning to sew for my kids. Certain things are magic.
Included in that list are:
  • Ears
  • Fur
  • Capes
  • Tails
  • Pictures of things they like
  • Tulle
When I made this lion costume for Violet this past year, I considered how the pieces were going to be used later. It’s modular and all comes apart. The shirt and leggings can be used separately for other outfits. The hat can be worn out on cold days. The tail can be worn over any outfit for instant lionyness.  In related news, she’s wearing this right now.
  • Patterns I used:

Oliver and S Little things to sew hood (book)
Bimaa sweater
Fancy pants leggings

source: girl like the sea

Capes are also great in many forms. We have a dumpy old red riding hood cape I made out of a sweater and suit jacket before I knew pretty much anything about sewing. Still gets used. Hooded capes, tie on capes, capes sewn in shirts. The kids eat that stuff up. Some of them are actually legitimate outside of the home options too. Not that my kids don’t constantly wear their dress up capes and cape shirts in public…..

Also, stick something your kid loves on the shirt – boom – they are now that character/thing. Combine characters, ears, and capes somehow and you’re entering hero status. Lol.

Growing up Sew Liberated hooded cape (book)
Girl Like The Sea cape tee tutorial
Juliet capelet pattern by See Kate Sew
Skirt as Top cape tutorial

sources: little lief, girl like the sea, suburbia soup, skirt as top

This furry vest below is full of opportunity. You can wear it out totally chic, or use it for dressing up as a queen or animal.

  • Pattern idea:

Figgy’s lux vest
source: kaszkaz m lekiem

Aside from the fact that they’re kind of a pain in the ass when it comes to buckling a car seat, a tutu can be worn out. You can also use them to puff up a dress.

  • Pattern I used:

Oliver and S little things to sew (book)
Little things to sew tutu
source: girl like the sea

My daughter pretty much lives in her cape shirts and Lego shirts. For Christmas I combined the two for her for a double serving of awesome. There’s nothing better than getting a genuine “oh, thank you! thank you, mama!” She swoops around, rocking the built in cape whenever the mood strikes.

Giving your kids things they love and expand their imaginations with, but that you enjoy looking at more than the garish licensed stuff you often see in the stores….So worth it.

This was made with the flashback skinny tee pattern plus my own cape tee tute

Lego cape shirt
source: girl like the sea

<<<<<<<<<<< Thank you so much for joining me for this inspiration post! I hope something stoked your creativity. Happy kids clothes week!

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  • Reply Adrianna January 15, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Hey thanks lady!  This was a great round up.  You linked to some shops I’d never heard of that are pretty great for inspiration.

  • Reply Tasha January 15, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Does Figgy’s still sell that vest pattern?  The links are broken and I couldn’t find it on her site.  I want to check it out!

  • Reply kristin January 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    awesome round up, Tara!  so much inspiration.  and hey thanks for the features!  😀

  • Reply Holly and Eddie January 22, 2014 at 4:33 am

    There are some fantastic outfits in this post its hard for me to choose a favorite so i guess i shall say I LOVE THEM ALL ! Young models are the best I find there expressions are what makes the photographs .

  • Reply Layla January 22, 2014 at 10:02 am

    very cool ideas, I especially love those vests! Your post reminds me that the kids have been wanting some winter cape Ts, better get cranking…

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