This 2 + 2 blouse and pleated skirt is understated and tremendously elegant while still wholly appropriate for a child.
If you had run across these fabrics at your local quilt shop, would you have thought “children’s clothing” when you saw them? Probably not. But didn’t this outfit turn out great? I like how Hannah, the seamstress, chose a subdued, muted color palette for the outfit. She has been very subtle in her use of color. The grayish-bluish colors in the 2 + 2 blouse, offset on the cream-colored background, are very understated. And the combination of that rich brown for the skirt might be an unexpected choice, but I love how the ensemble comes together. It’s very restrained in its use of color (the whole outfit is playing with a number of neutral tones), but in this case I think it works well with the lines of the design. Together the skirt and the blouse are elegant. They are sophisticated. And they definitely allow you to see the child before the outfit.
People sometimes don’t realize that it’s OK to be a bit restrained when it comes to using color for children’s clothing. Sometimes just a little pop of color is all an outfit needs.
This Birthday Party Dress has been made in a plain, neutral linen—with just a delicate wisp of color added thanks to the Liberty print used for the tab. This, too, is a bit unexpected. I love the choice of natural linen for the dress, and the addition of the print takes a plain fabric and turns it into something elegant. People tend to think that a dress for a little girl needs to be made from a busy, floral print. This dress turns that assumption on its head, using a tiny floral print in just a wee dose, and it works especially well.
But just because I’ve highlighted a couple very understated outfits doesn’t mean that everything needs to be very reserved and reliant on muted colors.
This Birthday Party Dress looks cool and ready for summer in a calm, relaxed palette of greens.
Here’s a dress that in some respects is the mirror opposite of the last one I highlighted. This Birthday Party Dress uses a floral print for the body and a linen for the tab. The print is busier than the others I’ve highlighted so far, but it’s still somewhat modest in comparison to many fabrics on the market today. It’s almost monochromatic with the different tones of green on a white background, but the lightest shade of green—which verges on yellow—steps out from the background a bit to give the dress a little visual interest. The fabric, while reserved and understated, is perfectly appropriate for a child’s garment and actually gives the finished piece an air of sophistication that you don’t find in most ready-made clothing for children. It feels cool and summery, doesn’t it?
Now please don’t infer from what I’m saying here that you need to be afraid of color. You can use very vibrant colors. You just need to select and balance your colors carefully.
Bright yellow is toned down with neutrals for a large (but not overpowering) print in this 2 + 2 blouse with Puppet Show shorts.
I really love this combination. For this outfit, the sewer has combined the Puppet Show short with the 2 + 2 top. For the shorts she’s used a gray denim, and she has played this very effectively off the Amy Butler print she’s selected for the top. The gray of the print subtly picks up the gray of the denim (which is repeated in the patch at center front), but these neutrals are really there to serve as a base for the yellow in the print that subtly steps to the fore. The outfit, again, is elegant and mature (not juvenile at all), but it’s wholly appropriate for a child.
Here’s another piece sewn by the same sewer that uses even more color.
Even bright colors can be subtle and elegant, as you can see with this Birthday Party Dress.
You have noticed here, haven’t you, that we’ve moved away from neutrals and have landed solidly in the land of pink? (No matter how much we try to mitigate against it at home, there’s a certain four-year-old there who just has to have her pink dresses….) But a bright pink fabric—bright enough to make any pink-loving little girl happy—can still be turned into a sophisticated and understated dress if it’s selected and balanced correctly.
Note that although this dress is very pink, it’s not a busy-print pink. There aren’t flowers and six other colors in the print. The print is a vibrant color, but it’s grounded nicely by the simple geometric pattern laid onto the bright base, by the matching solid brown tab, and by the brown shirt layered under the dress. This is a perfect example of how it’s possible to use very vibrant colors and still create an outfit that’s somewhat understated and that ensures you’ll see the child before the dress.
There’s a l
ittle secret I have that helps me pick the more reserved, and often more sophisticated, prints that appear in quilt shops each season. I tend to avoid the central prints in most designers’ collections. But that’s the topic of the next post in the series. So stay tuned.
Labels: principles of fabric selection