Once upon a time, long long ago, Helen of Helen’s Closet posted a series of hacks on her blog to her fun, basic York Pinafore pattern. I, of course, fell in love with the most complicated hack, the combination of spaghetti straps and a gathered tier skirt.
Fast forward to last month, and I found myself purchasing three metres of this deep teal cotton/linen blend from the half-price sale at Fabricland. It’s soft, more cottony than linen-y, with one side very slightly brushed. (Which I didn’t notice until halfway through construction, so fortunately I was consistent about which side I used for the outside.) I wanted to make something that would transition well to fall, but wasn’t too complicated/didn’t require tracing a whole new pattern, because that’s pretty hard for me right now.
As “hacks” go this one is pretty intensive, as the only line from the original pattern that stays the same is the three or four inches of side seam. As such my version ended up a bit different from Helen’s—my front bib is lower (since I started from my low-necked version of the pattern) and I think I inadvertently squared off the neckline curves a bit more. I would raise the front (I’ll get into that) but I don’t mind the square necklines.
I also did my tiered skirt a bit differently. I decided I wanted a long skirt with a ruffle rather than three equal tiers, and also that I wanted the longer part to be flared, not just rectangular. I thought I had calculated pretty carefully to still get the 1.333:1 gathering ratio she followed, but I think my mental math was a bit off for the top of the skirt, as the gathers are very minimal. Also, minimal gathers are WAY harder to get nice and even, by the way. I don’t think I’ve ever consciously aimed for less than a 2:1 ratio in gathered tier skirts, so even though I’ve made a million of them this felt pretty awkward. And I had to pull my first go at the bottom tier off because the gathering was way too minimal. I thought I would try to get away with using only two fabric widths, and have a bit of fabric left over for baby dresses. This looked terrible. So I added a third fabric width, got much better results, but baby dresses won’t be happening unless I happen to go back for more fabric. Really that’s ok.
I made the spaghetti straps into adjustable ties, partly because the mental work of figuring out the exact right length seemed too much, and I’m glad I did although the babies also love to pull on and untie them. This way I got to play around with where the whole thing sits, with the side scoop at my waist (as originally drafted) or dropped way low—turns out I mainly like the “way low” version (as seen in these pics), although I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it with a crop top at work.
It also works backwards! at least in the “dropped” length. So that’s a fun variation. If I were to do it again I would definitely reduce the discrepancy between the height of the front and back panels, so that the front stayed over my boobs even when “dropped”, and as it also makes it harder to get the ties tied nicely.
I had originally cut inseam pockets but completely forgot to install them and was too lazy to unpick the side-seams once I had them all sewn and serged. So I made patch pockets. This turned out well in the end as I had decided I wanted the option of wearing it backwards, so I put them centred over the side-seams like cargo pockets. This wouldn’t’ve worked so well with the inseam pockets I had planned. So sometimes being brain dead and distracted while sewing in five minutes bursts is actually helpful? they stick out a bit as the skirt is gathered but I don’t mind, though I could add a button if I really wanted to. It makes it easy to drop a phone in them, though. And they are plenty big enough for phones, masks, baby snacks, and a plethora of other doodads.
I got a bit of a mixed reaction from the older kids. Tyo (who is the Twenty Year Old, now, by the way) said it was very “90s teacher” and reminded her of Miss Honey from “Matilda.” Which is apparently a good thing? Syo (the seventeen year old) is just confused by it. I might be a little confused myself, as it’s definitely not my “usual style” … not that I actually even know what that is these days, I gotta say. But I think I like it. At the very least it’s comfy and practical and more stylish than leggings and a tank top. Now I kinda want to make a bunch of cropped sweaters…