O+S Building Block Dresses

When the new book from Oliver+S, Building Block Dress: A Sewing Pattern Alteration Guide, arrived on my doorstep, my girls and I knew it was time to get to work.

This book is very different from any of the other sewing books on my shelf.  Liesl gives you a basic dress pattern and shows you dozens of ways to hack it into just about any dress you can think of.  The coolest thing about this book, I think, is that Liesl gives you lots of ideas for how to tweak the pattern into her own designs listed in the book, but she also gives you the tools to combine just about any silhouette, sleeve, collar, pocket and closure to create you own original design.  What a kick!

My girls and I had a ball looking through the table of contents with all the photos of different design elements, and then choosing all the parts that would come together in their very own dresses!

Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too HedgehogletsKiki chose an A-line dress with the very cute tie collar, cuffs, external hem facing and invisible zipper.  Lulu chose the basic silhouette with a shaped yoke, scallop external hem facing and invisible zipper.  I asked Lulu if she wanted cuffs, and she said “No way!”  Ok then  😉

Just to be sure they knew what they were getting, we did some preliminary drawings.

Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets

Choosing fabric with my girls is always a challenge.  If we look online or take a trip to Joann’s together, they almost always end up falling in love with the latest Disney princess or Shopkin quilting cotton (ick) — and there are only so many character themed garments that I’m willing to make.  Know what I mean?  So my new tactic is to browse online solo, pick out several fabrics that I think we all will like, copy and paste the images into Powerpoint, and present it to the girls.  This way, they can still choose the fabric they like best without being overwhelmed by millions of choices, and I know that I’ll enjoy sewing with it.

This time, Michael Miller’s Norwegian Too Hedgehoglets was the hands down winner.

Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets

In order to pick the perfect shade for the accent color, I emailed the good people at Hawthorne Threads and asked what they thought would work best — since it’s impossible to see exact shades online.  They were incredibly quick to respond and had lots of great suggestions.  At first, I asked for chambray ideas, and they sent over several good brown options.  But then, I reconsidered and decided to go with the red in the mushrooms.  Again, they promptly sent over several choices, and I ended up with Cotton Couture in Cherry.  Thanks, guys!
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
For Kiki — The A-line dress pattern was pretty easy and quick to alter, and the sewing went quite smoothly.  This was my first time using the “Slash & Spread” method — which is a way of lengthening a bodice into an A-line dress with even fullness all around.  I’m sure this trick will be useful lots in the future, including making dresses out of t-shirt patterns.
I’d never finished a collar with bias facing, and I just love it.  Such a clean finish!
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
Aren’t the notches in the sleeve cuffs such a great detail?!
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
The only hitch I ran into was with the sleeve cuff facings, which finish the raw edges where the sleeve and cuff are sewn together much like bias tape would.  When I tried to sew them on, I found the strips to be too narrow at 1″ wide.  So I re-cut those facings to be 1 1/2″ wide, and that fixed the problem.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
When it was time to add interfacing to the tie collar, I only interfaced the actual collar portions and left the tie part un-interfaced (is that a word?).  Next time, I might try interfacing the whole thing, as the tie might lay more smoothly with a bit more body.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
For Lulu’s dress, the pattern alterations took considerably more time and brain power.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
The scallops on the shaped yoke were pretty tricky to pull off.  I didn’t realize until I sat down in at the sewing machine to put the bodice together that sewing a curve like this is a lot like squeezing a square peg into a round hole.  But drawing in the stitching lines and stay stitching really helped, and I think it turned out well enough in the end.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
I also ended up lining the bodice, as the contrast fabric for the yoke is lighter weight than the main fabric, and I felt like it needed more stability.
Measuring out the width of the scallops on the hem facing so that I didn’t end up with a wonky scallop on the side seams was another fairly major task.  Liesl suggests cutting the scallop shape out of card stock and figuring out the measurements that way, which worked really well.  (I used a ramekin from the kitchen to trace the round shape of the scallop.) Once I got the scallop templates sitting evenly, I traced them onto my pattern piece and went from there.  My kids’ washable Crayola markers were a life saver when it came time to trace the scallops onto the fabric!
Liesl suggests adding interfacing to the hem facing, which worked wonders keeping the scallops smooth and even, while adding a little bit of weight.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
If I use this type of hem again, I think I’ll try sewing it up in the manner of the O+S Ice Cream Dress, with the accent color is on the outside and the inside of the hem.  I think it would look cleaner.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
I’ve sewn in lots of invisible zippers, and have never been entirely happy with how other patterns deal with the tops of the zippers.  Liesl suggests marking 7/8″ from the top of the neckline and lining the zipper stop up with that mark, and then folding the end of the zipper over on itself a little bit and sewing it out of the way.  This method worked really well, and I’m sure I’ll use it over and over again.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
By the way, for Lulu’s dress I only sewed the zipper into the bodice and cut it off where the bodice meets the skirt.  I find this method to be way simpler than extending the zipper into the skirt, and there’s still plenty of room to get the dress on and off.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
Both girls decided on 3/4 length sleeves.  Since that length isn’t included in the book, I took the sleeve length measurement from my copy of the O+S Library Dress and cut a bit of length off the Building Block long sleeve.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
Here’s my take-away from this experience — Designing your own dress based on Liesl’s Building Block pattern does take a much bigger time investment than simply pulling your favorite pattern off the shelf and sewing it up as instructed.  But, it’s a ton of fun and can be a great project to tackle together with the dress’s wearer to create the dress of her (and your) dreams!
By the way . . . these dresses made an appearance on the Oliver + S blog today.  Check it out!  🙂

Another Birdy Blouse

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset SkirtIf you visit this blog much, you may recognize this wondrous bird fabric from its previous appearance a few days ago as an Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse for Kiki.  Once that top was done, I just hadn’t had enough birds in my life — so I used every inch of what was left of the birds for a Ribbon Tied Blouse (pattern C) for Lulu from the very popular Japanese sewing book Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset SkirtI’ve sewn a ton from this book and am nowhere near finished with it.  I have made this blouse before in a fabulous Japanese fish print, and it sadly didn’t get much wear.  I think I passed it onto one of Kiki’s preschool friends so that it might get the wear it deserved.  I’m hoping that Lulu will sport this one all spring and summer, and maybe even next year as well.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset Skirt

On the bottom, Lulu is wearing her blue chambray Oliver + S Swingset Skirt.

This blouse is very simple to put together, especially after you’ve done it before.  It’s true that you do have to add in the seam allowances when tracing out your pattern, which is a pain in the butt, honestly.  But it’s really a small price to pay.  And now that I’ve added seam allowance many times before, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset SkirtLulu’s measurements lie somewhere between a size 2 and size 4.  I tried on the size two dress I made for her two years ago from the same book, and it was a little snug in the chest, though wearable.  So I opted to go for a size 4, thinking there would be room to grow — which there definitely is.  But despite it’s extra blousy-ness in the size 4, I think this kid can pull it off.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset Skirt

I love the yoke with gathers in the front and back and the slightly puffy sleeves.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset Skirt

I had just the right shade of blue solid cotton in my stash to make up the bias tape for the neckline.  I cut the bias strips 1 1/2″ wide, rather than the 1 1/4″ suggested in the pattern, so that it would fit just right in my bias tape maker.  No prob.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset Skirt

Now, where can I find a bird top for myself???

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset Skirt

Aprons for Villagers

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

Is it me, or is there something about kids in aprons that just feels right?  I can’t explain it, but it’s true.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

I’ve been wanting to make my girls Bias Trimmed Aprons from the Oliver + S book Little Things to Sew for ages.  Kids Clothes Week, which wraps up today, was just the thing to make me deliver.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

I knew that there was a high likelihood that the aprons would go into heavy rotation right away, as Kiki and Lulu both love to play “Villagers” all the time — which is a game that came from an idea planted by Sofia the First.  (If you have a kid in your life who’s in the preschool/kindergarten set, you may know that Sofia starts out as a “girl in the village doin’ alright and became a princess overnight . . . now gotta figure out how to do it right . . . you know the rest.  So it follows that we must play Villagers.)  As everyone knows, Villagers wear aprons.  Kiki and Lulu have been making do with the cooking sort that came with their play kitchen.  But these aprons . . . these are authentic Villager all the way!!!!

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

True to form, Lulu was mostly unimpressed.  But Kiki — Kiki loves her apron more than words can say.  So far, she’s worn it to school, swimming lessons, out to lunch and to a birthday party, all within the two days that she’s had it.  It’s enough to bring a tear to the eye of a sewing mama.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

I’ve been trying to be a good citizen and sew exclusively from my stash for a while.  We recently put carpet in our basement, where my sewing set-up is, which precipitated a big reorganization of the fabric stash and a shocking realization of just how much I’ve accumulated over the past few years.  Both of these aprons came from that stash.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

Lulu’s apron is made from fabric leftover from crib sheets, bedspreads, quilts and curtains for Kiki’s bedroom.  I bought tons of extra just in case, and am now trying to find ways of using it.  It’s from the Meadowsweet line by Sandi Henderson for Michael Miller.  It’s from a bunch of years ago and might still be found on Etsy — but it’s mostly gone by now.  Despite seeing it everyday in Kiki’s room for the past five (almost six), I still just love it!!!

Both girls got mediums — meant for ages 3-6.  Somehow, it fits them both just fine!

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

Kiki’s apron is made from fabric that I saw online somewhere as someone’s Geranium Dress a year or so ago.  I hunted it down and bought a couple of yards and haven’t used it until now.  The selvage tells me that it’s Tiny Leaf Garland from Adorn It.  I think it’s just perfect for this project — and happily, I have plenty leftover for something else.  Since the print is non-directional, I was able to squeak this apron out of very little fabric.

The pockets are Robert Kaufman Chambray.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

About the pattern . . . it’s very simple to put together.  But I’m not going to lie.  It’s a shit load of bias tape, people.  If you’re not a fan of applying bias tape, this isn’t the apron for you.  But I kind of like it in a twisted sort of way, so it was fun for me 🙂

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

True confession — when it comes to double fold bias binding, I’ve recently gotten into the nasty habit of just sandwiching it over the raw edge and sewing it once, instead of unfolding the bias tape and sewing raw edges together on the wrong side, flipping it over, and topstitching.  This is an evil shortcut.  I tried it with apron #1, which happened to be Kiki’s.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

It didn’t end up looking as professional as I had hoped.  The stitching is kind of uneven, and I had to go back and restitch places where the tape had slid off.  Not cool.  A light bulb went off in my thick skull and I wondered if applying the bias tape in the correct way would solve these issues.

The plus side of sewing two versions of the same pattern is that you get a do over right away.  So for Lulu’s apron, I went all out and sewed the bias tape with the proper two step method.  Low and behold, it came out so much better.  And wouldn’t you know, in the end it took less time.  Lesson learned.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

Just so you know, I used store bought red 1/4″ double fold bias tape for Kiki’s apron (which was fine), but made my own bias tape with my always awesome Clover bias tape maker  for Lulu’s to match the orange butterflies exactly.  If you don’t have one of these handy tools, get one!

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

I also ended up getting a Dritz Easy Attacher Kit to help with applying the snaps, as I’ve had trouble with this in the past.  I was looking for the Snap Setter, which is recommended by Oliver + S, but only found the Dritz version at Joann’s and decided to take a chance (since it was Kids Clothes Week and I didn’t want to wait for shipping).  It was definitely worth the $7 it cost and made hammering on those snaps a breeze.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

If your kid is up for a good game of Villager, you’d best get cracking on one of these aprons!

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Bias Trimmed Apron

 

 

 

Thinking Spring — A Class Picnic Blouse

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

It’s Kids Clothes Week time again — the perfect occasion to break out that fab fabric that’s been sitting in the stash and fire up an old favorite.

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

We need a little spring around here, so I decided to cut into this wonderful Birdies in Sky from Michael Miller’s Flutter line and put together an Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse.

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

This is my third go at this pattern, so I had a pretty good idea of how it would come together.  I cut a size 5 width and size 6 length for Kiki, who’ll be turning six in May (what???).  The fit is superb — no big surprise there.

The only tweak I made to the pattern is the addition of the piping on the front and back.  (I neglected to take a good photo of the back — but it’s exactly the same as the front, the neck is just cut a bit higher back there.)  It’s pre-made piping that happened to be the exact shade of blue I wanted and was already sitting on my desk.  Hooray!

I did try it on Kiki to adjust the elastic on the shoulders before sewing it in — it’s a good thing to do if you can swing it.

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

The skirt Kiki is wearing is an Oliver + S Swingset Skirt that I made recently but never blogged.  I figured the blogging world has seen enough blue chambray Swingset Skirts over the last few years.  But here is is anyway.

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

To make it clear which side is the back, I hand stitched a little felt heart in the spot where one would normally find a tag.  This was an afterthought, and I had to stitch very carefully to be keep the thread going through the yoke facing only.  Next time, I’ll stitch one of these onto the facing piece before sewing the yoke together.

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

I’m happy to say that I have enough of this perfect fabric to whip something up for Lulu.  Springtime . . . here we come (I hope!)

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

Holiday Library Dresses

Library Dress, Oliver + S

For the holidays this year, I decided to make the girls quasi-matching dresses — knowing full well that they might not get worn much.  That’s how is goes with holiday dresses around here. In order to make it worth the effort, I thought it best to take this as an opportunity to do a little experimenting.

Library Dress, Oliver + S, invisible zipper

For about two years, I’ve been itching to try out the Oliver + S Library Dress with an invisible zipper in the back instead of buttons.  There’s a great tutorial on the O+S blog that takes you through it step by step.

I made a couple changes to the method in the tutorial.  Firstly, I extended the zipper to be the full length of the bodice, cutting it off at the point where the skirt is sewn on — as it’s done in the Hanami Dress.  It’s simpler and less fiddley that way.  I also cut the back skirt in one piece on the fold, rather than in two pieces with a seam down the center back — no need to do that with a zipper that ends at the waist!

Library Dress, Oliver + S

As you can see,  I also added a sash at the back.  As much as I love this pattern, it’s always bugged me that the waistband doesn’t extend to the back.  It’s kind of a bummer.

I originally wanted to sew the back waistband into the dress just like the front.  But in the end, I chickened out for fear that the bulk of the waistband seam allowances would muck up the zipper.  So I took the easy way out and just sewed up two sash pieces and stitched them in at the side seams.  I think the result is just fine.

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipperWhen I was cutting the waistband and sash pieces for Kiki’s dress, I ran out of fabric — oops!  I ended up piecing together one of the sash pieces from the remaining scraps.  Luckily, it doesn’t show much with this print.

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

Kiki’s sash was also a bit longer originally.  But for some reason, this caused great distress.  So I ended up chopping off a couple of inches of sash and finishing the raw edges with a very narrow zig zag.  Not ideal, but there was no way I was going to take the dress apart to restitch the ends of that sash.  She was hugely relieved!

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

I sure do love the cuffs on this dress.  It’s such a great detail.

Library Dress, Oliver + S

The fabric for both dresses is Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy (in jade and red from Fabric.com) with quilting cotton contrast fabric from Hawthorne Threads, neither of which I can find on their site anymore.

As usual, my Fabric.com order got screwed up.  About a week after I placed the order, I got an email saying that they didn’t have enough jade corduroy in stock and that they’d send only the red.  I frantically searched for the jade elsewhere (it was not easy to find), and reordered it on Etsy.  When the Fabric.com package arrived, the jade was in there, but in two pieces.  There was more than enough for Lulu’s dress.  Why did they not tell me that they’d send the jade in two pieces, saving me the trouble and expense of finding another piece???  Why????  (Will I never learn?)

Anyway, Kiki’s dress is 4T width and 5T length, and Kiki’s is a straight up 3T.  If I had these to sew again, I’d add an inch or two in length.

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

(For the record, I’m not the meanest mom in the world.  Taking our photos outside in the snow was totally Kiki and Lulu’s idea.  I didn’t wear a jacket either!!)

Library Dress, Oliver + S, invisible zipper

After about 10 minutes, we were all ready to go inside.

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

I’ll leave you with Lulu wearing the perfect holiday accessory — Christmas ornaments as earrings . . .

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

Happy New Year!

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

A Red Riding Hood

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding Hood I would love to tell you that Kiki wanted to be Little Red Riding Hood this Halloween, and that I lovingly created this cape much to her delight.  But that would be a lie.

Both of my daughters are in full Disney Princess mode (sigh), and we will have one Jasmine and one Ariel or Rapunzel (final decision TBD).  I have come to accept that when it comes to the Disney Princess, my girls would much rather have a blingy (and rather grotesque if you ask me) costume from Toys r Us, complete with wig and plastic shoes — so I didn’t even bother.  The good news is that we waited until last week to buy them, and they were 50% off (silver lining).  And, they love them so much that they are all worn several times a day.  I mean, the whole costume thing is for them after all, so they should have the costume they want, right?

So imagine my delight when a good friend and neighbor asked me if I would sew up a Red Riding Hood for her six year old’s Halloween costume.  Hooray!!  And to make it even better, her three year old little sister is going to be the wolf!!  (I’m trying hard not to be jealous.)  Of course, I was more than pleased to oblige.

Plus, it’s Kids Clothes Week this week (participants sew for at least one hour each day and post their makes on the KCW website), and the theme is Disguise this time.  Perfect!

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding HoodWithout hesitation, I reached for my copy of Little Things to Sew, the book written by Liesl Gibson of Oliver + S fame, which includes a pattern for the most darling Red Riding Hood around.

Now that I think about it, my sewing obsession really started with this book.  Before the mania set in, I was clicking around looking for ideas for a doll carrier for Kiki, who must have been around two at the time.  I came across the doll carrier pattern in this book and got a copy.  I mean, why not try to sew one myself in a fabulous fabric?  The resulting doll carrier never really caught on with Kiki, but I loved the book so much that I started looking into Oliver + S patterns, and the rest is history.

Anyway, my friend chose Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy for the outside, and we found this amazing Red Riding Hood cotton print for the lining.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding HoodWe could only find 1 3/4 yards of the lining fabric left at Hart’s (it’s sold out now, but I just found more on Etsy), and the pattern calls for 2 yards (for size 5-10, less for the smaller size).  But with some creative finagling, I managed to squeeze all the pattern pieces out of it, even after cutting a couple of pieces backwards and having to recut! There is some selvage in the seam allowances here — please don’t tell 🙂

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding HoodThis pattern has lots of pieces to sew together — eleven altogether, including the button loop.  So it’s a little more time intensive that I imagined it might be.  But the result is a very lovely cape that fits beautifully over the shoulders and has these wonderful slits for little arms to come through so that your little Red can stay warmer out in the woods when she needs to use her hands for goody distribution and such.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding HoodI hope you have a chance to do some fun Halloween sewing this year — even if it isn’t for your own kid!

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding Hood

A Mara Dress

Mara Dress Compagnie M Puppet Show Shorts Oliver + SFall sewing for Kiki continues over here with a new Mara Dress from Compagnie M.  This pattern is really for a top (which I have made before), but there are instructions included in the pattern for extending the length to make a very chic dress.

This particular dress was inspired by Beyond the Hedgerow’s very lovely spring dress version of the Mara.

I’m a sucker for the piping/pin tuck combo.

Mara Dress Compagnie M Puppet Show Shorts Oliver + SThe main mustard fabric is a buttery soft sheet that I found at the thrift store for about $3!  The piping and pocket fabric is a scrap leftover from this Oliver + S Class Picnic Top I made for Lulu a couple of years ago — it’s from Joann.  You see, hoarding scraps is a virtue 🙂

Mara Dress Compagnie M Puppet Show Shorts Oliver + STo be sure I got the shape right, I laid my O+S Rollerskate Dress pattern pieces over the Mara front and back pattern pieces to trace the shape and the length of the dress — as I did with Kiki’s O+S Swingset Dress I made this past summer.

Mara Dress Compagnie M Puppet Show Shorts Oliver + SThe pockets are taken from the O+S Puppet Show Shorts pattern.  When I made these shorts last summer, I was sure I’d be putting these pockets on everything.  This seemed to the the right moment to get started.

Mara Dress Compagnie M Puppet Show Shorts Oliver + SThe other tweak I made to the pattern was to used binding for the cuffs — a little trick I learned in making an as of yet unblogged Ottobre Dress.  The cuffs are gathered to fit the binding, and I just top stitched over the whole thing.  I think it’s more comfortable than elastic casing (which is suggested in the pattern instructions), and looks a little more professional.

Mara Dress Compagnie M Puppet Show Shorts Oliver + SThis dress turned out to be perfectly cozy for fall and has made its way into regular rotation.  Hooray!

Mara Dress Compagnie M Puppet Show Shorts Oliver + S

Rollerskates & Strawberry Ice Cream

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Rollerskate Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseDon’t you love to click around the internet machine, drooling over all the beautiful creations that you wish you had time to make (while you should probably be doing something else)?  Me too.  When I came across these two creations from the very talented Avocadopie on Flickr, it became immediately clear that I would be finding the time to provide Kiki with her own versions.

Here we have an Ice Cream Dress and a Rollerskate Dress, both from Oliver + S.  I’ve sewn up both of these patterns before, and was glad to pull them out of the pattern box to use again.

As always, ice cream first.

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseI love this pattern so much.  There’s something so classic and old fashioned about it, but without being stuffy or too sticky sweet.  It really is the perfect thing to wear to the ice cream shop in the summertime (and we have, believe me)!

The fabric is forest Andover chambray, paired with the famous Briar Rose strawberries from Heather Ross.  I think I’ve now sewed with every colorway of these strawberries in both woven and knit.  Love it!

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseJust as I was about to cut the yoke, I saw that if I didn’t make some changes, the strawberries would be upside down in the back — since the yoke is designed to be cut in one piece that drapes over the shoulders in the front and the back.  Luckily, I saw this coming before my rotary cutter actually started rolling.

All I did to solve the problem was to split the yoke pattern piece into two pieces at the shoulder — a front and a back — add 1/2 inch seam allowances and stitch it together.  If you look closely, you can see the new shoulder seam (along with some new freckles)   here . . .

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseNow, the strawberries are facing the right way in the front and the back!

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseShe loves the pockets.  Who wouldn’t?

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseKiki wore it on her very last day of preschool.  Am I the only mom kooky enough to make a new dress for the last day of school???

Now, onto rollerskates . . .

Oliver + S Rollerskate Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseThis dress is a great way to savor a beautiful fabric like this one — more Briar Rose.  This print is a regular feature in Kiki’s closet.  She loves the color, and we’ve found that it’s a great choice for tops and dresses alike.

Like Avocadopie, I decided to skip the neck facing altogether and just add a little bow.  I gave Kiki several choices of ribbon color — no surprise that purple was the winner.

Oliver + S Rollerskate Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseI also found just the right pink rose button for the back . . .

Oliver + S Rollerskate Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseFor both of these dresses, I cut a 4T width and 5T length.  This always works well for Kiki in Oliver + S patterns.  Kiki’s shoulders are so narrow, that there’s room to grow here, even though I sized down in width.

Oliver + S Rollerskate Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseIsn’t summer sweet?

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar Rose

The Piped Swingset Tunic — the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose It’s been a while since I’ve checked in here . . . but not because I’ve been slacking off. Truth be told, I’ve been pretty much sewing my ass off.  But between finishing projects after midnight on a fairly regular basis and doing all the other things we do in the summertime, I’ve been neglecting this little blog.  So, here I am today to chronicle the trials and tribulations of my very first attempt at the Oliver + S Swingset Tunic. (I’ve since made two dress versions of this pattern, one of which is made with the very same fabric that you see here.  But I’m going back in time today to catch you up on my process.) Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose When I started out on this project, I knew wanted to add piping.  I’m really into piping. I had read on various blogs that the construction of this tunic is a little counter intuitive, so I knew I’d need to put on my thinking cap for this one, especially when throwing piping into the mix.  Let me warn you . . . there was trial and error involved. First off, after reading the directions a time or two, I knew I’d need some help.  I found this very helpful post on the O+S blog.  I highly recommend it if you’re trying this one out for the first time. To add the piping, I got started putting the yoke together and separated the lining from the front of the yoke, as directed . . . Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose Then, I sewed the piping onto the front of the yoke, matching the raw edges. Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose As you can see, the yoke lining is not the same shape as the front, so you have to take care in pinning the lining out of the way. To add the piping to the back yoke, I did the same thing, sewing carefully across the placket. I then smugly sewed along, thinking I’m the greatest sewing genius on the planet.  But when I got the whole thing put together, I realized I’d made a near fatal error.  I didn’t read the directions carefully enough and had cut two of the pattern pieces for the straps, rather than cutting one piece and then cutting that piece in half.  So, the straps were twice as long as they should be.  Crap!! I didn’t want to take the whole thing apart to change out the straps.  I mean, I had already topstitched the yoke and everything.   So, I decided to be a smarty pants and snip the straps at the shoulder, cut them down to the correct size, and then sew them back together as you would when joining two pieces of bias tape.  What a marvelous solution. But . . . when doing something slightly complicated while watching the clock (knowing that the kids will be calling any minute) and while feeling slightly frustrated, things like this can happen. Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose Ouch.  Want another view? Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose Even in the moment, I just had to laugh.  I mean . . . really????  This has to be one of my favorite sewing goofs ever! Needless to say, I regained my senses and decided to leave this to be fixed another day . . . with a clearer head.  Don’t worry — it all worked out in the end. Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose Now that we’ve gotten that little tale of woe out of the way, let’s get back to the piping.  I don’t think it’s a complete success. Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar RoseIt looks pretty nice in the front, but it doesn’t lay flat in the back.  This is because when you construct the back yoke, you clip the seam allowance on either side of the placket. You then press the seam allowance away from the yoke at the placket and toward the yoke everywhere else.  Sounds weird, but that’s how you do it.  Anyway, the seam allowance thing keeps the piping from laying nice and flat all the way across the back. Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose See what I mean?  This is why I decided to forgo the piping on my next Swingsets.  It was worth a try, though. I should also mention that Kiki is wearing the Oliver + S Sailboat Pants I made after she pleaded and pleaded for pants.  You may be wondering why I was loathe to provide her with the pants she so desperately wanted, especially when I had such a fab pattern as this sitting around.  The reason is that this kid never wears pants.  Never.  She swore up and down that she would wear these if I made them for her.  I indulged in this fantasy, because I knew she’d look so cute in them. Oliver + S Sailboat Pants And she does. Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose Guess what.  She’s never worn them.  Not once 🙂  (I coerced her into wearing them for these photos with the promise of chocolate.)  Ah well, it was worth a shot.  There’s always a chance the Lulu will wear them in a year or two. Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose The other unfortunate thing is that when Kiki wears it, she insists on tucking it in.  She does this will all tops for some reason.  I don’t want to stifle her sense of style, but it’s really not the best look . . . Oliver + S Swingset Tunic Heather Ross Briar Rose So for now, I think we’ll stick with dresses. Ah, motherhood.

KCW: A Couple of Bucket Hats

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

Summer is here — time for sun hats!  We are a fair-skinned bunch, especially the red headed Kiki, and my girls don’t have the greatest track record in actually wearing their hats outside in the sun when they really need them.  so I’m hoping that these custom made babies will entice them to practice better sun protection.

These are Oliver + S Reversible Sun Hats.  The pattern is in Liesl’s book  Little Things to Sew, and is also available as a free download on the O+S website.  Nice!  I do have the book, but I found it easier to just print out the pattern from the site than trying to locate the book in my ultra organized house (ha).

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

Let’s start with Lulu.  Her hat is sporting Made By Rae’s Lotus Pond fabric inside and out. This view is Lily Pond and there is Meadow Blossom Blue on the inside.  I’m late to the party with these fabrics, as they came out last summer and are getting to be hard to find. Luckily, they’re still too be had on Etsy.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

These hats are pretty easy to whip up.  All you need is 1/3 yard of two fabrics and a little bit of fairly stiff, sew-in interfacing, and you’re halfway there.

That being said, there are a couple of tricky bits.  Sewing the top of the hat onto the sides is a little bit fiddly.  Liesl tell you to clip the seam allowance in the sides of the hat before pinning onto the top.  It took me a few minutes to get the hang of this, but once you hit your stride, it’s not a big deal.

Also, I found top-stitching around just above the brim to be a little more challenging than expected.  What looks nice on one side would be screwy and puckered on the other — you know.  And since this hat is reversible, I wanted both sides to look nice.  As with most things, with a little more practice I’ll be better at this.  But for now, these look just fine, I think.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

One other thing to note is that I assumed that both girls would wear a medium, as the age range on the pattern si 3-5.  After making the first hat in a medium and trying it on both girls, it turned out that the 5 year old Kiki needs a large.  (She has a big head just like her mother.)  The moral of that story is to be sure to measure your kid’s head before you start.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

Kiki’s hat is made with Heather Ross’s Far Far Away fabric.  One side is Frog Prince Blue on Cream, and the other is Meadow Blue on Cream.  These fabrics are also getting to be few and far between, so Etsy saved me once again.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

These prints are so sweet, and I’ve been itching to use them on something.  But I think that they are a little too subtle for a hat, and their little surprises get lost.  The more punchy Lotus Pond on Lulu’s hat makes a bigger statement.  But, Kiki’s hat is pretty cute nonetheless.  I’m sure I’ll come up with some other way to use the leftovers — maybe as pockets or a dress bodice — so that they can be more thoroughly appreciated.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

The girls are enjoying their hats so far.  Today, I found them stuffed in Kiki’s bike basket, ready for the next adventure.  Ahhhhhh, summertime!

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats