The “Secret Garden” Outfit | Sarah Gabbart


Top Photo

The Facts 
Il_570xN.126854003 Fabric: Denim (2 yards at $7.98) and Liberty floral (2 yards at $33 a yard – from my stash)
Pattern: Butterick 7762 and Colette Violet 
Year: c. 1956 (shorts) and c. 2011 (top)
Notions: 7 buttons – in stash
Time to complete: 10
First worn: April 2011
Wear again? Yes – yes yes yes!

Total Cost: ~$81.96

 As a child, one of my favorite books was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It's a wonderful story about a sickly British girl (Mary) living in India who is sent to live with her mysterious Uncle Craven after her parents die of cholera. The sprawling Misselthwaite Manor serves as the backdrop for this tale of life, grief and rebirth – transformed from the once-happy-home left to decay after the death of Mrs. Craven to a lush paradise all thanks to the secret garden found by Mary and her invalid cousin, Colin.

It really is a beautiful story and as a child it reached me in ways I didn't realize. This book taught me about the importance of tending a garden – both literally and metaphorically – and about how it's important to be able to connect with others. If you haven't read it yet, get thee to a bookstore or, where the kindle version is free! 


As a lover of gardens and shorts, I knew exactly what outfit I could make for the Children's Book Challenge – vintage bermuda shorts and a floral top. What better clothes for toiling in the garden and looking fabulous while doing so!

The patterns are a lovely vintage vacation wear outfit set, complete with bermuda shorts, and the brand-spankin'-new Colette Violet pattern (another beginner pattern – huzzah!). Both were very easy to complete and I can't wait to make more items from the vintage pattern – it's adorable!

It's not secret that I love me some Liberty of London fabric. Every time we hop across the pond my last stop is always the Tudor-style shopping mecca on Regent street. Some folks bring home snow globes or Faberge eggs from their travels, my souvenir of choice is always fabric. Specifically, Liberty fabric.

While the price tag is high (especially compared to the remnant Liberty I used for my Dexter night dress, which was a steal at $14 a yard! Sale racks and nice shop ladies FTW!), IMHO it was worth every penny. I feel amazing in this top. 

The shorts are one of my favorite things I have ever made – I was a little concerned about the high waist, but after finishing them with the belt detail I am in love with them! Perfect length, a flatterning cut and the denim is just soft enough to look right!


Along with my jumper from our childhood inspiration challenge, I will be wearing these items all summer!



Sarah Gabbart


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  1. I loved this book too – how well you have married a vintage pattern with a new pattern. I have recently ordered the Violet pattern and look forward to hopefully creating as lovely a shirt as yours.

  2. Feel amazing in this top? You look amazing! And vintage shorts! Too cute! I have to get looking for some of those patterns. I love your inspiration and I love your outfit. That fabric is amazing – yet another (potentially expensive!) thing for me to look into!

  3. Such a great outfit. Would love it for myself! Great choices.

  4. I’m going to try shorts this summer. I’m nervous but excited, and FYI The Secret Garden was one of my favorites as well, it was so magical.

  5. Oh Sarah, wonderful fabric pairing, and those shorts! I love the little button/tab thing! So darling!
    This book made me cry when I was little, and I’ve stored it away with Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince’ and Richard Adams’ ‘Watership Down’, beautiful and sad stories. I did mention I read a lot as a child! Secret Garden was so naive and so mature at the same time.
    Great job xoxo

  6. margueritedesigns

    Those colours in the shirt match in really well with the denim. Lovely!

  7. Sarah, lovely outfit in all ways. I too adore Liberty fabrics. I was recently shopping at Purl Soho here in New York for plain white muslin to line an outfit for my daughter. They were out and the salesguy suggested the Tana lawn prints! For lining! For a four-year old! At $35 a yard! Says something about their customers, I guess.

  8. judy roberson

    What a lovely outfit..The vintage shorts with the Violet blouse..what a great combination..

  9. yeah high waist!! i love the floral print against these denim lovelies. and i forgot all about this book, great pick!

  10. I loved the book and the movie, good choice. What a great outfit. You look so good in that high waist and knee length, another good choice. The top is pretty, all around it is a great choice and you look very nice in this outfit.

  11. Wow this outfit looks great on you and so classy. I’m loving your shorts, so inspirational and darn those Colette patterns, they are the best! Love Violet!
    I agree, Liberty is lovely and why not?!
    Well done indeed and such a touching book!

  12. I am slowly becoming a big fan of liberty prints and this blouse is absolutely FANTASTIC! I love the print!! The shorts are fabulous and the pictures are amazing…what a stunning location!

  13. How lovely! Butterick 7762 is one of my very favourite patterns! It’s really nice to see Violet made up; I’ve my copy on order. :)

  14. The fabric is so beautiful Sarah! You are definitely making me want more liberty prints in my stash! I absolutely adore your shorts and am off to see if I can find that pattern!

  15. Thanks Adey! I got mine on Etsy if that helps – and it was my size somehow (never happens in vintage patterns! I always have to resize!)

  16. Thanks lady! I love the Violet – can’t wait to see your version!

  17. YAY! It’s dangerous to be a Liberty fan that close to London – I’d be spending all my extra money on fabric and train tickets – lol!
    Thank you so much lady – I will be wearing these a lot!

  18. Thanks Cathe! I swear I could marry Colette pattens – I love them so much!

  19. Thanks lady! I love the high waist and was worried it would come out as pregnant looking (I am not pregnant)!

  20. Thanks lady!! I am so all about the floral and denim – I LIVE in both all summer! I am re reading the book right now – as an adult it is even better than I remembered!

  21. Thanks lady! I am starting to LOVE vintage patterns especially with more modern patterns – it mixes it up a bit!

  22. Thanks Amanda! You made my day and OMG be careful what you start with the fabric! I am addicted now!

  23. Thank you so much Jessie! Go for it with the shorts – they will change your life! Once I made one pair I was hooked!

  24. Thanks lady! And OMG – I have been meaning to read Watership Down and you just reminded me!

  25. Thank you so muh Lee and OMG – no no no! Lining? No thank you! I want my super fine fabric to show! That is practically sacrilege – lining on a 4 year old’s outfit with Liberty! I love Purl, but come on sales dude!

  26. One of the all time best books in the world. Your outfit is delightfull.x x x