Matilda is such a gorgeous dress, but sometimes when you’re standing in front of your wardrobe figuring out what to wear, you’re just not in a dress mood! So today we are going to cover an awesome hack for making Matilda as a top & skirt matching set – that way you can mix & match to your heart’s content and have a Matilda outfit for every occasion!
The awesome part of this hack is that almost all the pattern pieces and steps are exactly the same as the original, so there’s really nothing too scary involved! There are a couple of pieces that are going to be new or different though, so let’s go through the plan now:
- The Top Ties: These will be a new pattern piece we’re going to draft. It’s a super simple one and one you can really customise & make your own!
- The Skirt Waistband: Because Matilda’s waistband is designed to sit at the waist and above, using the original is going to work great for the top, but not so much for the skirt. So instead, we’ll be drafting a straight waistband for the skirt which we’ll go through together when we get to the skirt part of the hack.
- The Placket: This is the only original pattern piece that we are going to alter. We’re going to cut it in half at the lower waistband notch, using the top half for the top & the bottom half for the skirt.
Matilda Tie Top
The tie top will use the same pieces as the original Matilda dress bodice (how awesome is that!), so we recommend choosing the same size you would for the dress based on your bust & waist measurements. If you need some help on grading between a different bust & waist size, check out our tutorial on just that here!
New & Altered Pattern Pieces
Time to grab out the top section of your placket! The finished placket will end in line with the bottom of the waistband and the lower waist notch we cut through on the placket. Simply add 1.5cm (5/8″) seam allowance to the bottom of the placket pattern piece and you’re ready to cut out & interface your two placket pieces!
Just a side note: if you made any length adjustments to the bodice like in our lengthening/shortening tutorial or during a bust adjustment, don’t forget to make the same adjustments to your placket!
Next up is the exciting one, the ties for the hem of our top! Use your waistband pattern piece to determine the width of the tie end that will be sewn to the garment. Make sure that you maintain this width for at least the seam allowance, so it is the same width as the waistband where it’s sewn. You may want to keep the same width or even make it a bit thinner for the middle section, as this will be where the knot is tied and you want less bulk there.
After that, you can play around with pointed ends, or maybe round, chisel or chevron! You can make them short like mine or long enough to tie into a bow. The shape and length is up to you! Keep in mind the thickness of your fabric and the style of knot you want to tie. It’s sometimes surprising how the length you need can vary, so I recommend doing a little test tie in the fabric you’re using. My tie pattern piece (including seam allowances of 1.5cm or 5/8″) was 22.5cm (about 9″) long, and 8.5cm (3 1/3″) wide at it’s fullest point. Whatever length and shape you decide, just don’t forget to consider your seam allowance! You can use this new pattern piece to cut out 4 ties (two pairs).
Hack Starting Point
Now we have our new pieces sorted, it’s time to fast forward! You can construct your bodice in exactly the same way as the instructions up to the waistband section (including the pockets – I just couldn’t decide till the end whether I wanted them or not!), which is when we go rogue ;)
Just like in the first couple of steps of the waistband section, we need to join the front and back pieces of your interfaced waistband & un-interfaced inner waistband, but instead of pressing up the bottom edge seam allowance of your un-interfaced inner waistband, you’re going to press down the top! The other thing we’re going to do differently is to attach only the interfaced waistband to the bodice with right sides together. Just like in the dress, you’ll be matching all of your waistband notches with the bodice seams, sewing 1.5cm (5/8″) from the raw edge and pressing the waistband and seam allowances down away from the bodice.
Pin & sew the un-interfaced inner waistband to the bottom edge of the outer interfaced waistband with right sides together using a 1.5cm (5/8″) seam allowance. This is going to be the bottom edge of our top!
Press the un-interfaced inner waistband and the seam allowances down away from the bodice. If you’re not going to topstitch the bottom edge of your waistband, you might like to understitch along the un-interfaced inner waistband very close to the seam, to keep things in place and help it turn nicely. I’m going to topstitch though, so I didn’t bother.
You might also find it useful to trim some of the thicker sections of your waistband seam allowances away so things don’t get so chunky.
After you’ve trimmed, you can then press the un-interfaced waistband up towards the bodice. The top folded edge should just cover the bodice waist seam and it should enclose all the waistband seam allowances. Pin in place from the outside of the garment.
With the inner waistband in place you can then topstitch or ditch in the stitch along the waist. If you like, you can also do another row of topstitching along the bottom edge of the waistband like me.
Sewing Your Ties
Time to grab out the two pairs of your ties that you cut earlier. With right sides together, sew around the edges of your ties, leaving the waistband end of it open. To make sure it’s not too chunky and that you get a nice finish to their ends, trim away any excess seam allowances that could get in the way, being careful not to cut any of your stitching. With that done, you can turn them out the right way and wriggle all the edges to push it’s seams shape fully out to it’s seams. Give them a good press.
If you like, you can then top stitch around their edges. I wanted mine to match my waistband, so I stitched at the same distance from the edge as I did earlier.
With your ties ready to rumble you can then place them on your waistband, matching the open ends with the centre front edges. Pin them in place and baste stitch them just under 1.5cm (5/8″) from the raw edge.
Sewing Your Placket
Place the plackets onto the bodice with right sides together, aligning the raw edges with the bodice front edges and waistband notch with the top edge of the waistband. Because we are going to sew the bottom of the placket as a finished edge, the placket should extend 1.5cm (5/8″) beyond the waistband. Sew the length of the plackets with a 1.5cm (5/8″) seam allowance. Press the outer long edge on each of the two plackets in approximately 1.5cm (5/8″). Press the plackets away from the bodice then fold the plackets in half back on themselves so the right sides together. The folded edge should align with the placket seam.
Stitch along the bottom edge of the placket at your 1.5cm (5/8″) seam allowance. Trim away the seam allowances of your placket as well as your tie & waistband on the other side to reduce bulk.
Turn your plackets out the right way and push out the bottom corner of the placket to make sure you get a nice square end. Press the placket into place, making sure that the folded edge on the inside just covers the placket seam. You can then topstitch or ditch in the stitch to secure everything and you’re ready to finish off your top’s collar as per the instructions, yay!
The last step of your top will be to sew your buttonholes and buttons on. Instead of a button at the bottom of your placket though, you can try sewing in press studs for a cleaner look!
So that’s it, you’re very own Matilda tie top is done! Now onto the matching skirt!
In general, a skirt will include less waist ease than a dress. If you pick the same skirt size as your original Matilda dress, you’re going to have too much ease and your skirt is going to be sliding around all over the place. We recommend choosing one waist size smaller than the size you would cut if making a dress, using the finished garment waist measurements to ensure you get the fit you’d like. For a firm fitting waistband, pick a size with a finished waist measurement close to your body waist measurement.
If your waist and hip fall into two different sizes, check out our tutorial on grading here!
New & Altered Pattern Pieces
We’re going to alter the skirt placket just like we did the top’s – by simply adding a 1.5cm (5/8″) seam allowance, this time to the top edge. With that done you can cut out & interface your two placket pieces!
The most important alt for this skirt hack is the redrafting of the waistband. For this tutorial, I am using a simple rectangle waistband, but if you have a favourite curved waistband from a different pattern, you can always use that instead. For a rectangle waistband the same height as the Matilda dress it will need to have these specs:
Height = (2 x finished height of Matilda waistband) + seam allowances = 11cm (4 3/8″)
Length = skirt waist measurement + placket width for overlap (2.5cm or 1″) + seam allowances (3cm or 1 1/4″)
If you want a taller or shorter waistband though, feel free to play around with the height measurement! Once you have the pattern piece, you can cut out & interface your waistband.
Hack Starting Point
Time to fast forward again! We are going to start the skirt hack at the point where the pockets, centre back & side seams have been sewn and you have sewn your row of stay stitching around the top edge of the skirt.
Place the placket pieces on the centre front edges of your skirt with right sides facing and sew them in place, 1.5cm (5/8″) from the raw edges. The bottom of the placket is going to get finished along with the hem (as per the instructions), so the bottom edges of the plackets should align with the bottom edges of the skirt fronts. Equally, the top edge of the placket will align with the top edge of the skirt. Press the outer edge of your plackets in by 1.5cm (5/8″) like in the original Matilda instructions.
Press your skirt plackets and the seam allowances away from the skirt fronts. You can then fold the plackets in half to enclose the seam on the wrong side of the skirt (pictured above). The folded edge should just cover the stitching. Press and pin them in place on the right side of the garment.
To finish off your plackets you can then topstitch or ditch stitch to secure the folded edge on the wrong side of the skirt. If you like, you can also sew a row of topstitching along the centre front edges – it’s up to you!
Sewing Your Skirt Waistband
Because we are sewing a curved skirt to a straight waistband, we need to help the curve sit straight by snipping into the waist of the skirt. Snip in intervals of about 2.5cm (1″) and make sure not to snip through your line of stay stitching 1.5cm (5/8″) in from the raw edge. If you’ve ever sewn our Veronika skirt, you’ll recognise this method. If you haven’t, it’s one of our awesome free patterns you can get when you sign up to our newsletter!
Time to pull out your waistband piece! Start off by pressing one of the long edges up by 1.5cm (5/8″) before pinning the other long edge to the waist of the skirt so that right sides are together. The short ends of the waistband should extend 1.5cm (5/8″) beyond the edges of the plackets. Sew along the waist 1.5cm (5/8″) from the raw edge and then press the waistband and seam allowances up and away from the skirt.
A little like the ends of the top placket, you then need to fold the waistband in half back on itself so the right sides are facing each other and the folded edge aligns with the waist seam on the right side of the garment. Starting as close as you can to the edges of the plackets, sew along the short edges of the waistband 1.5cm (5/8″) from the raw edge. To reduce bulk trim the seam allowances back, being careful to not get too close to your stitching.
Turn your waistband ends out the right way and fold the rest of the waistband back to the wrong side of the garment. The folded edge should sit just over the waist seam stitching and the corners of the waistband ends should be pushed out to a crisp square shape. Press and pin, ready for topstitching!
The last step of your skirt hack before continuing with hemming & closures is to topstitch or ditch stitch your waistband to secure the folded edge on the inside of the garment and enclose all seam allowances inside. You can also stitch around the short edges and top edge of the waistband like mine if you like.
And that’s it folks! The Matilda instructions and sewalong posts have got you covered for the remaining steps, after-which you’re ready to wear & love your amazing Matilda Top & Skirt matching set! woohoo!
If you’ve got any questions on what we covered today or you want to share your version of this hack, let us know in the comment section below!
| LOOKING FOR MORE MATILDA POSTS? |
Here’s the full list of Matilda posts and tutorials:
- How to choose between Matilda & Matilda Curve
- Matilda Maker Roundup
- Matilda Inspiration & Ideas
- Matilda Tester Roundup & Matilda Curve Tester Roundup
- How to Grade Matilda Between Sizes
- How Lengthening or Shortening Matilda pattern
- Sewalong | Skirt & Skirt Pockets
- Sewalong | Bodice & Breast Pockets
- Sewalong | Front & Back Yoke
- Sewalong | Waistband & Placket
- Sewalong | Collar & Stand
- Sewalong | Hemming & Sleeve Bands
- Sewalong | Inserting the Sleeves
- Sewalong | Matching Top & Skirt Set Hack (this post)
- How to Sew Buttonholes Without An Automatic Function
We absolutely love seeing what you make, so don’t forget to tag your creations with #MNmatilda and @megannielsenpatterns when sharing on social media, and check out what everyone else is up to!