Hot! The “Madeline” Ensemble

The Facts
: Spoonflower printed cotton sateen and leftover yellow seersucker for top, upcycled dress of mine for skirt
Pattern: Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress and Swingset Skirt
Year: contemporary
Notions: scraps of interfacing, button, elastic from stash
First worn: 8/26
Wear again: I hope so!
Time to complete: about 4 hours
Total cost: about $20 for the Spoonflower fabric (I think)

Back in the early days of Spoonflower, I experimented with making my own fabric print using a digital image of Ludwig Bemelmans’ beautiful illustrations from Madeline.  Here I should say for the benefit of Bemelmans’ heirs that this experiment resulted in one yard of fabric for my personal use only.  I ordered a sample as suggested before having a full yard of fabric printed.  In the sample, the full-scale image was quite small, and I assumed the full yard of fabric would be printed the same way.  So I was surprised when the fabric arrived and the image was giant.  I thus concluded that I don’t have the digital design skills for Spoonflower.  I do love the way the print turned out– the colors are lovely and the fabric is good quality.  It’s only taken me 4 years to use it!

I used the top from the Ice Cream Dress pattern, which I’ve made before.  Oliver + S patterns are always a bit more involved than I expect from a kid’s pattern, but they’re wonderful.  Great instructions for a beautiful, cleanly finished garment.  Of course I messed up a little and took a shortcut on the armhole openings.  They look perfectly fine but nag at me some.  I cut the skirt from a cute but not great fitting dress of mine with a horrible acetate lining.  I used one of Fenna’s skirts as a guide to the length and just eyeballed it so I could keep the hem and the existing seams.  Then I cut the lining from white muslin using the cut skirt piece as the pattern.  I followed the Swingset Skirt pattern instructions to make it up.  Easy.

At first Fenna hated the top, even though she approved everything before I made it.  She was quite bratty, as five-year-olds can be, and I was both regretting not sewing something for myself and resolving never to sew for her again, not for the first time.  Luckily the process of modeling for photos caused the winds to change, and she wore it out all day Sunday and received lots of compliments.  We’ll see if she ever wears it again.  The skirt I’m sure she’ll wear.  I, however, like the top so much I’m trying to figure out how to make one for myself with the remaining fabric.

Obviously, by the size of that grill, we’re not in Brooklyn anymore.  Photos were taken around my parents’ lovingly cared for house in Youngstown, Ohio.




Lee is a highly educated stay at home mom with a lot of projects. She lives in New York City.


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  1. Love the outfit. I had fooled around with spoon flower but never got something I liked. Never fit the hang of the repeat. Your top looks beautiful.

  2. I’d forgotten about Spoonflower! I’ve never tried it, but I love the concept. Someday!

  3. I love that. And, I’m so proud of Spoonflower, a homegrown industry. Man, they are huge and thriving now and have the best fabric choices!

  4. I think this is great! I was wondering where you purchased Madeline fabric, then read you had it made. Awesome. I loved your comment about never sewing for her again. I go through that all the time with my daughter.

  5. Don’t give up sewing for your daughter, just teach her how to do it for herself and then what you make for her will be pretty darn good : ) LOVE the fabric, I haven’t used Spoonflower yet but want to. Good to know about the sizing thing. And I bet she’ll wear BOTH pieces, I would if I were her.

  6. I’ve never heard of Spoonflower-I’ll have to give it a peak.

    I knew that was your daughter-even from the tiny little picture.

    Tell her I love the outfit and that I think she looks very pretty in it.

  7. This is quite fabulous, tell her not to grow anymore right now though….mine are terrible for having growth spurts straight after me making anything for them. It’s so pretty.

  8. I’ve heard of Spoonflower but thought it might be v expensive. Will look into it again (though my Mum would say, why pay for something you’ve had the training in!) because I have ideas but not the time. The outfit you created is gorgeous. Fenna is a mini-Lee.

  9. Fenna looks pretty happy during the photo-shoot. I hope all the compliments inspire here to wear it more often because it’s so cute and one-of a-kind. I love Spoonflower, although I’ve never designed or ordered any fabric myself. One of my daughters, who is a full time artist, uses it all the time. She promises to design some fabric for me someday. If you ever visit ETSY, look up Pinkytoast. Her latest items include little zip purses using her designed Spoonflower fabric.