I asked my niece, who's turning 11, what she wanted for her birthday, and she sweet-talked me into bringing a garment idea of hers into reality... "Auntie Meg, you're so good at sewing..."
Over Facetime she described to me the top she wanted (open shoulders, puffy sleeves, bows on the biceps), and I asked a few questions to flesh out more what she had in mind. We landed on a knit fabric in light blue.
But better yet, she drew a couple sketches of her design:
To bring her vison to life, I scoured the internet for a "cold shoulder" top sewing pattern and ended up landing on the Made for Mermaids Fiona, a pattern for a cold shoulder knit top. The Fiona comes in youth and adult sizes.
This was my first time using a Made for Mermaids pattern. It came together really well, although the instructions use photos instead of diagrams, which is not my personal preference.
Based on her measurements, I ended up cutting a size 12 from the youth range. Because my niece is five feet tall, 2 inches taller than the size 12 is designed for, I chose the tunic length, hoping it would be more like regular length on her.
The fit was spot on. It's still a little bit long, but that will allow her to wear it with leggings if she likes.
To get her puffy sleeve look, I sort of hacked the sleeve into a bishop sleeve shape, following these tutorials from By Hand London and Cashmerette.
I didn't want to make the shoulders too roomy or wreck the way the cold shoulder element sits, so I started the slashing and spreading at the bottom of the cold shoulder. I gathered the sleeves into a cuff, which I hoped would add some length to the long sleeves. Worked pretty well!
I considered hacking the pattern to incorporate my niece's bows onto the cold shoulder bindings, but in the end I stuck with the facing the pattern uses and I made bows that are just tacked to the outside of the shoulder openings.
I cut 1.5 inch strips of fabric, sewed them into a tube, turned them and tied them into bows. I hand-sewed them on the sleeves.
The fabric is a slubby cotton jersey from my stash- originally bought from a market in Hong Kong. It's the remainder of the fabric I used for my Tina Belcher costume from a few year back.
It turned out really lovely and she was so excited about it! I'll admit I was a bit nervous about this style, but it's actually very sweet on her.
She said it was exactly what she wanted and that it makes her feel like a princess with the puffy sleeves. She says she plans to wear it for her birthday (unless it's too hot) or the first day of school.
High praise, methinks!