cascade skirt by megan nielsen

Wow, the sun was disappearing on the horizon and it was still 105° as I was taking these pictures. Gulp. I feel like a wilting flower. Last week Austin went into an intense early heatwave and I tried hard to stay indoors especially during the afternoons. I think future summer outfit posts may have to be inside, too, but then of course I wouldn’t get to twirl about and let a skirt like this catch a hint of breeze.

cascade skirt

cascade skirt

This is the Cascade skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen, and exactly the kind of skirt I like to wear in summer. It has lots of elegance with no effort and is cool as a cucumber. This is something I just adore about my Lonsdale dress, and I’m thinking of making another one of those this summer, too. As soon as I saw Megan’s new collection, there was no pausing: I immediately went on the hunt for a light and drapey rayon print. The pattern is a simple design, a circle skirt with a graduated hem that wraps over in front, and when I walk about the hem has a lovely petal-like floating.

My man loved that part so much, we did a little “short” so you can see the cascading in action! Check it out on Vimeo. It’s my first attempt at editing video so I’m a little shy…

I was thinking of cascades when I braved the heat to the area where I took these pictures. There is a lovely little rocky stream along the part of Shoal Creek that runs through my neighborhood. It has a gentle sound, not waterfalls of the sort that Megan Nielsen was surely inspired by, but the trickle of a creek over limestone. Something I mightily needed on this day. I was willing to brave chiggers and heat to get to it but alas it was dry to the bone.

tube top

Outside of the pictures, I was barefoot all day and the shoes were a bit of an afterthought. I normally wear them out with shift dresses, and I think I like this skirt better barefoot. And bare-shouldered: I tried on a bunch of tops with this and decided that it just begged to go with a tube top. (Do we still call them that?) Of course I didn’t have any tube tops, so I made a pattern for one and sewed it all in an afternoon. I think it might look better, less bunchy, as a bodysuit and would need a little shelf bra to be truly, ahem, effective, but I really wanted it quick.

This skirt is total instant gratification sewing. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing, and quickly! Gotta love that. But since it borders on circle skirt territory and a baby hem is really the only option here, hemming is a patient exercise. Cutting and sewing main part of the skirt: 1 hour. Hemming: another hour. Anyone who’s hemmed a circle skirt groans with me!

cascade skirt and tube top

And p.s.: The original pattern is quite is long in the back. An easy way to figure out the right length is to measure the center back piece from waist to hem, which was almost ankle length on me. I’m 5’4″. I removed about 6 inches from the back hem length so it would hit mid-calf, slowly curving and tapering to nothing just past the side seams.

Skirt pattern: Cascade from Megan Nielsen
Skirt fabric: lightweight viscose woven, Emma One Sock
Strapless top pattern: self-drafted
Top fabric: cotton-modal jersey, hand-dyed (dye is Dharma Trading Procion, “Antique Lace”)
Gold strap rings: stash


  1. sallie says:

    Oh my goodness! I feel you on the heat wave!! I literally would dart indoors and fan myself while sipping a cool drink – I felt like such a Southern Belle!! Ha! But this outfit! This is the perfect thing to wear during a hot sticky summer. I think the cascade skirt is my favorite pattern from the new Megan Nielsen collection too. It’s just too pretty. Love the beautiful, bohemian vibe of this print. Perfect.

  2. Kim says:

    I love your cascade skirt! I really like the fabric you chose. I think almost everyone has to shorten it, mine was ankle length at first!

  3. Heather Lou says:

    Love this! I was going to make the same skirt this weekend but realized the fabric I had in mind was a bit of a stripe and didn’t know how it would look with the circle skirt. (also it’s poly which is kinda not summer fantastico)… Now you have me searching on etsy for some rayon. Cute tube too! I was browsing your old posts about making bodysuits since I have the same issues with bunching when all you want is a clean line under full skirts. And I love the shoes! I think below the knee skirts make my legs look like tree stumps if I’m not wearing heels.

    • Amy says:

      Oh, I hope you find some good rayon. It’s perfect for this! I almost did my ‘tube’ as a bodysuit but I just didn’t have enough of that fabric left. Now you got me thinking, it’s not to late to add one of the form of a seam? Anyhoos, I know what you mean about legs–mine look stumpy without heels in the skirt, but even shoes feel too hot right now. 🙂

  4. Katherine says:

    We actually used to call them “boob tubes”…you are right, it is the perfect match for this skirt.

    You certainly look effortlessly cool…in both senses…and not like you are shriveling with the heat. A trickling river to combat the heat sounds very Japanese…thinking cool thoughts as much as anything. An afternoon Tom Collins always seems appropriate too!

    • Amy says:

      Yum, that does sound like the right drink. It was really a weirdly hot day that day–very humid, too. Sometimes the sound of water running is all I need.

  5. poppykettle says:

    It’s gorgeous – so flowing, floaty and just all aruond fabulous. I love wearing skirts like this in the heat of summer 🙂 You look wonderful! (awesome shoes, too)

  6. Jenny says:

    I wasn’t sold on the latest Megan Nielson patterns- I’m not sure if it was the styling or the fabrics but none of them were anything I saw fitting in with the rest of my wardrobe. Your skirt is making me reconsider though! I loooove the fabric and it looks so effortless to wear- just what you need on a hot summer’s day!!

    • Amy says:

      Thanks! I know what you mean, sometimes it’s hard to see around someone else’s design aesthetic, especially if it isn’t yours. Her patterns are adorable but definitely young and flirty. This one caught my eye because I really love floaty hi-lo hems!

  7. Omgaaaaawwwd this is breathtakingly beautiful! I haven’t even read what you wrote about it yet, have to go back do that now but I just had to comment straight away. It’s my fav version so far and your styling is tdf…those shoes!

  8. dixie says:

    this was my favorite pattern of her new collection and i love the fabric you’ve chosen. it’s so pretty and light. and i’m totally groaning with you on the circle skirt hemming! beautiful skirt and perfect for our surface-of-the-sun summers. 😉

  9. Gail says:

    Love your new skirt, but I was trailing through your blog and was totally struck by your yellow blouse and skirt set from July last year. Italian cool yes.

  10. Carolyn says:

    Oh it’s beautiful on you Amy! Such lovely ripply fabric.
    Hehe, in Australia we call those tops “boob tubes”, but maybe that kind of talk is frowned upon over there?!

  11. maddie says:

    It’s been hot here in Philly but nowhere near 105 degrees. I’d be camping out in front of my A.C. (which I have done the past couple of weekends).

    This skirt is great! The silhouette does wonders for you and I loved how you outfitted it with the me-made tube top (yes, you can still call it that) and blue heels. Nice job on the video too. Definitely a twirling skirt!

  12. Gabrielle says:

    Ooh, I love your skirt so much! Looks really cool and swishy for a sultry day, and your new top is perfect with it. This pattern didn’t really stand out to me before seeing your make, but now I want one – even though it’s winter here!

  13. Amy says:

    I’m so happy you made this skirt! I’ve been eyeing it since it came out, and you’re the perfect person for me to see it on.

  14. Erin says:

    As always, I am so impressed with your style and how you wear your garments with such grace. I am getting set to make a gazillion Netties and will need skirts besides pencil skirts and you have persuaded me that this pattern will be a perfection addition. But I am dying to know more about your shoes!!! I love them.
    Please tell me more!
    [email protected]
    Thank you so much~

    • Amy says:

      Hi Erin, thanks! My shoes are Loeffler Randall. I bought them several years ago when I wanted a very good pair of nude dress pumps that would last a long time. I love perforated leather, too ;).

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