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Tutorial: Two New Looks of the Phoenix Top & Dress

Jane REuter

Phoenix Paneled dress version
Phoenix small header 1.jpg

A few weeks back a customer reached out to me about creating a certain look, that her daughter wanted, using the Phoenix pattern.  We worked through and it was such a simple and fun process that we decided to share it with all of you.

The top we were trying to recreate was a square circle skirt just like the Phoenix pattern.  However, the skirt was made up of several different fabrics.  So here’s how we did it.  Instead of cutting one square for the skirt.  We cut 10 rectangles and sewed them together before cutting out the waist opening.

The process is really simple and requires just a little math.  When making the Phoenix top, the size of the skirt is determine strictly by your child’s height.  Use the size chart to find what height she is and look at the skirt measurement for that height.  My daughter is the height of a size 12 year.  Therefore, her skirt piece for a top would be cut 36.5 x 36.5.  After hemming her skirt 1/4” two times on all edges of the rectangle, as called for in the pattern, her final skirt would be 35.5 x 35.5.

Step 1:

skirt dimension in cutting chart – 1” = new skirt dimension

I want the final skirt made up of 10 rectangles or 2 rows of 5 fabrics.  First I’m going to figure out the height of each rectangle (or row) by dividing 35.5 by 2.  As a result my rectangles would be 17.75” tall.  Now I just need to add my seam allowance back in.  Each side of the rectangle will need a 1/2” hem, so my final rectangle length is 18.75

Step 2:

New skirt dimension / 2 = rectangle length

Rectangle length + 1” seam allowance = final rectangle cutting length

I now need to figure out the width of each fabric panel.  The square will be divide into fifths.  I will first divide 35.5 by 5 to get 7.1 (7 1/8”).  I add my 1” seam allowance (.5“ on each side) to each rectangle for a total of 8.1 (8 1/8”).

Step 3:

New skirt dimension / 5 = rectangle width

Rectangle width + 1” seam allowance = final rectangle cutting width


I cut my 10 rectangles of different fabrics 18 3/4 x 8 1/8.  I sewed five of them together at the long sides to make a long rectangle and then repeated this step with the four other pieces.  

You will have 5 rectangle left and will repeat these steps again so you have two rows of fabric. 

Sew the 2 rows of fabric together to make one big square, making sure to line up the seams.

It will now look like this.

Fold the fabric ion half length-wise and width-wise.  Cut the waist opening pattern piece based on the chest width so the circle opening coordinates with the bodice width.  

Attach the skirt as regular and you are done!

Phonenix small header 2.jpg
Phoenix gathered circle skirt

For another fun twist to this pattern you can make it a gathered circle skirt.  In addition you can apply this same process to the method above for a totally different look.  Choose the length of you skirt based on height as usual.

Add on 3” to the measurements.

Lay the waist opening in the corner.  Mark out 3” from it all around the curve to mark your new cut line.  

Sew a gathering stitch around the opening.

Make sure to pin the skirt to the bodice at the quarter points so the short sides of the rectangle are centered on the fronts and sides of the bodice.  Gather the skirt to fit the bodice between those points and sew to attach!

Can’t wait to see what creative things you do with your Phoenix patern!