j.crew knockoff – top and skirt tutorial

In case you missed it, check out yesterday’s post for more info on the leggings and shoes!

I had such a good time putting together this knockoff look! Today I’ll show you how to decorate a long sleeve tee to make it look like a cardigan and how to sew a super easy but adorable ruffled cupcake skirt.

Cardigan top

I found a nice navy blue women’s shirt at the thrift store and refashioned it down to my daughter’s size, but you could easily start with any color long-sleeve tee for this project. I used masking tape and cardstock to mask off the area I wanted to paint so it would look just like the J.Crew version.

I used white craft paint and silver glitter fabric paint on my shirt. I tried white fabric paint, but it didn’t give as bright white of a color as I was looking for. After washing, the white paint has cracked a little – it’s not very noticeable under the glitter paint, but I think if I were to do it again I’d stick with fabric paint.

I just used a cheap foam brush to dab on the paint. I used two coats of white, letting each coat dry completely before the next, then one coat of silver glitter. (The little “buttons” are just circles cut out of masking tape.)

Be sure to put a piece of cardstock or cardboard in between the top and bottom layers of your shirt before you begin painting so the paint doesn’t soak through to the back!

When my paint was dry I removed all the tape, then used a thin paint brush to dot on holes in the “buttons” and paint on the pockets, as seen below.

I used white grosgrain ribbon for the detailing on the pockets. I cut three strips of ribbon as you can see below.

The medium strip goes on the bottom, then the long strip has each end folded under to make a bow, then the short strip wraps vertically around the two other strips, as show here. I hand sewed the ribbon pieces together, making a little X right in the middle.

Then I folded each end of the base strip under and machine sewed the ribbon onto the shirt. Easy, right?

The cupcake skirt is very easy as well. My daughter is almost 2, so this skirt is about an 18-24 month size. Purchase 1/2 yard of 60 inch wide Chambray ($3 at Walmart) and wash and dry it, then cut four pieces as shown here (if your chambray is 45 inches wide, purchase 3/4 yard):

Your first step is to hem both long ruffle pieces. Chambray frays very easily, so either serge, zigzag, or pink the bottom edges. Sew the two short edges of each piece together to create a long ring of fabric. Turn up 1/4 inch and press, then turn up a full inch and press. Hem with a straight stitch using white thread.

Next, take one of the ruffles and sew a basting or gathering stitch along the top (unhemmed) edge – set a long stitch length and a low tension. Use pins to mark halfway around the circle of fabric, then in between each half so each quarter of the ring is marked.

Take one of your 4 inch pieces (base piece) and sew the short ends together to create a smaller ring of fabric. Pull on the bottom thread of the ruffle piece to gather it up until it just fits over your smaller ring of fabric (place them right sides together, matching the raw edges).

Make sure you pin each quarter of the way around the smaller ring as well, so you can match those pins. Move the gathers around until they look fairly even, then pin very well all the way around both pieces.

Sew the two rings of fabric together, using about 1/2 inch seam allowance. Finish the seam edge by serging, zigzagging, or pinking. Then you can flip the ruffle down and press, and your skirt will look like this so far:

Repeat the process with the other ruffle: gather at the top, then pin to the top of the unruffled portion of the existing skirt. This time, both right sides will be facing out, so the WRONG side of the ruffle will get pinned to the right side of the skirt top. Sew together, and it will look like this:

Grab your remaining piece of fabric and match the two short ends. Sew 1/2 inch down from the top, then backstitch. Leave 1 inch unsewed, then start sewing again and sew down to the bottom (look at the left side of the photo below and you can see the white stitching).

Press the seam open, then fold the ring of fabric in half long-ways. This gives you a waistband that has a handy opening for threading elastic through:

Slide the waistband onto the top of the skirt, where you just attached the second ruffle. Sew the waistband on, then press it upwards. Measure how much elastic you’ll need (I used about 18 inches of 1 inch wide elastic), thread it through the waistband, and sew it together.

Then you’re done! I gently pressed my ruffles down to make them a little less poufy. You could easily add more rows of ruffles to make a long skirt for an older girl.

Linking to some of these parties:

Monday: Skip to My Lou | Brassy Apple | Craft-o-Maniac

Tuesday: Tip Junkie | Ladybug Blessings | Sugar Bee Crafts | The Blackberry Vine | Hope Studios | Funky Polkadot Giraffe | Not JUST a Housewife | Homework Today’s Assignment: Be Inspired | Shwin and Shwin

Wednesday: Handy Man, Crafty Woman | Southern Lovely | Sew Much Ado | SNAP | Someday Crafts | The NY Melrose Family | Printabelle

Thursday: Somewhat Simple | House of Hepworths | Momnivore’s Dilemma | The Shabby Creek Cottage | Yesterday on Tuesday | Fireflies and Jellybeans | The Taylor House

Friday: Chic on a Shoestring Decorating | The Shabby Nest | Stuff and Nonsense | Naptime Crafters | It’s a Hodgepodge Life | At The Picket Fence | 504 Main | Blissful Bucket List

Weekend: Tatertots and Jello


  1. 1

    Anne says

    Love Love Love this! so cute! You could also use some of the ideas for a adult or tween outfit. I think the only change I would make is I would use real buttons on the faux sweater to give a more 3D realistic feel but other than that it’s perfect! I might even do that to my own pink crocks. They are so ugly but so functional!

  2. 12

    Beth says

    What a fantastic job. I’ve been loving the ruffled skirts I’ve been seeing. You make it look easy, so I’m going to give it a try. I’m not too much of a seamstress, so I don’t know…
    My daughter is 6, so how do I know how wide to make it?

  3. 13

    autumn says

    Beth – so sorry you asked a question months ago that I never answered! It’s probably too late for your, but I thought I’d answer in case anyone else has the same question. Just measure your daughter’s waist and hips and see which is wider (they’re probably the same). Take that measurement and add two or three inches to get the width of your base layer. Then your ruffle layers can be anywhere from 1.5 times the base layer to 2 times the base layer width. Good luck!


  1. […] I decided my little girl needed a new fall outfit, so I spent a few minutes looking through J.Crew’s online catalogue for inspiration. I found this fun girl’s outfit that I knew I could recreate for way less money. Today I’m sharing a tutorial for making the star stamped leg gins and sparkly silver shoes; check back tomorrow for a tutorial on the layered skirt and top. […]

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