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: Swingset Dresses X 2

I’ve been wanting to try out Oliver + S‘s Swingset Tunic for the longest time.  I recently gave it a whirl in its original tunic form with mixed results (due to my own brain farts, btw).  I’ll tell you more about that one later.  Right now, I’d like to show you two versions of this pattern, hot off the presses for Kids Clothes Week, lengthened into dresses.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

First of all, I’d like to say that this may be my favorite Oliver + S pattern.  The details on the tunic are so sweet and simple.  It just says summer to me, loud and clear.  This little top seems so well suited to become the perfect summer sundress.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

Just for reference, here’s a peek at this pattern at the original tunic length . . .

Oliver + S Swingset Tunic

Anyway, my first attempt at converting this into a dress was for Lulu.  All I did to lengthen it was to extend the skirt straight down to the length I wanted.  I was pretty pleased with the result at first, but after looking at it for a minute or two, the hem seemed pretty narrow. What do you think?  A little bit too tube-like?

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

It’s not tragic or anything — Lulu can still run around in it without feeling encumbered by a too narrow skirt.  But still, I wished I had thought of flaring the skirt out a bit.

Of course, I had already cut out the pattern pieces for the second Swingset Dress meant for Kiki.  But luckily, I had enough fabric left to re-cut the skirt pieces with a better shape.  To be sure I got it right the second time, I took a look at a couple of skirt widths on dresses in Kiki’s closet before proceeding.  The skirt on her Oliver & S Roller Skate Dress looked just about right, so I decided to copy the hemline from that pattern.

I pulled out the Roller Skate pattern and compared it with the Swingset pattern hem line.

Patterns 9

I drew in the hem line from that pattern onto my lengthened Swing Set skirt pattern piece and drew a diagonal line from the outside of the hemline of the skirt up to about 2 inches below the arm pit.

Patterns 3

I wanted to be sure that the bodice lining lined up properly with the skirt, so I made sure to start flaring out the skirt below where the bodice lining ends.  I you dive into this pattern, you’ll see what I mean, as the bodice lining sits below the top of the skirt on the sides.


Here’s the new pattern piece . . .

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I think the result is a success.  A nice, A-line dress.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

(Don’t mind Kiki.  She thinks it’s totally hilarious to stick her tongue out in pictures these days.)

You may recognize the fabric on both of these dresses as different prints of the much beloved Briar Rose line from Heather Ross.  I know we’ve all been seeing these fabrics for a long while now, but I just can’t get enough.  I mean, check out the bees here!

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

Kiki’s dress is Nanny Bee in Green.  And Lulu’s is Cricket Clover in Pink.  Can you spot the crickets???

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

These are not the easiest fabrics to find nowadays, but I was able to snag both on Etsy.

If you haven’t tackled the Swing Set Tunic (or dress), there is a possibility that you may be ever so slightly confused when it comes to attaching the skirt to the back bodice.  There is a funky thing about separating the lining from the button placket.  Anyway, if you find yourself scratching your head, take a look at this very helpful tutorial on the O+S blog.  The photos will make it all come clear 🙂

My favorite part of sewing these little dresses was choosing the buttons.  For Lulu, I picked these really cool pink ones with a little white grid pattern which looks hand drawn — perfect for this fabric.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

For Kiki, I chose yellow buttons that look like lemon drops.  Kiki calls them “bee hive buttons.”  I used the same ones last year on a Roly Poly Pinafore for Lulu, which was also made from bee themed Briar Rose fabric.  I say, if something works, stick with it!

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

Speaking of buttons, you may notice that I only used two here while the pattern calls for three.  I did use three on my very first attempt and found it difficult to get my machine to cooperate in sewing the bottom button hole.  Things got too thick and lopsided with the seam allowances from the skirt and layers of fabric and interfacing on the placket.  I found cutting it down to two buttons and situating the bottom button a little higher up on the placket made things a world easier.  And truthfully, I don’t even miss that third button.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

So that’s a wrap for project #2 during this Kids Clothes Week.  I’ll be popping up again with #3, just as soon as I can pull myself together . . .