Oliver + S // Faux leather pants

I’m not sure how long I’ve had this pink faux leather in my stash, but it was always destined for Miss Six. She’s such a groovy little chickadee.

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I used the Parachute pants pattern from Oliver + S. I removed the side panel, narrowed the legs a little, and lengthened them to the next size up to better fit my tall girl.

The legs are obviously too long on Miss Six right now. I was planning on hemming them, but the faux leather looks cleaner unfinished, so the extra length comes from the hem allowance that was never turned up. We’ll probably leave it as it is for now and just roll the legs up until Miss Six’s legs stretch (which happens regularly anyway!).

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Oliver + S // Pinwheel slip dress in silk

I have quite a mammoth sewing to-do list in the lead up to Christmas. I didn’t plan it that way. In fact, I didn’t plan to do much Christmas sewing at all this year. My only goal was to sew that velvet dress, and of course, the Winter coat (that is slowly coming along).

The Winter coat now has buttonholes and a collar, but the rest of it has been put on hold while I catch up on the selfless sewing that I was trying to avoid. However, I think the Christmas bug has just caught me a little later this year, because I’m looking forward to the quick and fun sewing that is now on my horizon.

It all started with Miss Seven. It’s an annual tradition at her elementary school for all the 2nd grade students to dress up and attend the Nutcracker, by the Kansas City Ballet. It’s quite a special occasion for the little kids each year and even more special because her best friend is a part of the cast (although not performing on that day). The kids look forward to this event for literally a whole year, but I didn’t consider the ‘dress-up’ component until about a week ago when Miss Seven started muttering about the ‘fancy dresses’ the other girls were wearing, and then the email came home from the teacher requesting that the boys wear ‘nice’ jeans or pants.

Miss Seven already had the perfect dressy coat for the occasion. But I decided to sew her a special dress to wear with it. The fabric came from my stash. It is a vibrant Ralph Lauren silk CDC that I previously used to line this coat of mine. I had the perfect amount for the Oliver + S Pinwheel slip and tunic dress pattern.

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I modified the pattern slightly to sew the tunic and slip as one, instead of making separate dresses to layer as the pattern suggests. I also changed added a keyhole to the back as the method of fastening. To do this, I copied the neckline and armscye of the tunic over the slip pattern and then sewed them together at the neckline. This eliminated the need for neck binding or facing. The slip portion also became the lining. In addition, I lengthened the arms.

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I’m pretty chuffed with how this dress turned out. I made it up in a size 8 but was a little worried it would be too big. Miss Seven is taller than average and quite slim through the body and hips (her hips and waist are a size 5), but she seems to have a nice width to her shoulders which probably accounts for how the dress fits. The shoulder fit is great but the dress volumes out beneath that (which is nature of a the dress design anyway). The length is short but acceptable (I normally lengthen patterns for her).

Miss Seven is delighted with her early Christmas present and that makes me happy too. I consulted with her all the way in the making of it, because I feel like she’s old enough now to start developing a more informed opinion on clothes and styles (rather than just a need for all things swishy, ruffled, and pink). Of course, I had to pull the reigns in with regards to her initial selection of suitable fabrics and design (ie not floor length velvet like Mummy), but we talked over the options and she came up with some of her own ideas. In the cool weather, she’ll be wearing this dress with white, fleece lined tights which will look super cute too.

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Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress into a skirt

A long time ago, I foolishly used some untreated wool fabric to make a scrappy dress for Miss Seven. Needless to say, the wool in the bodice felted and shrank in the first few washes. I solved the problem by cutting off the bodice and turning the dress into a skirt.

That skirt became one of the most worn items in Miss Seven’s wardrobe. I’ve tried to figure out why and I think it comes down to the length (long, but not too long), and the fact that it has these particular pockets.

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It may also be because the volume of the skirt is not excessive like some gathered skirts can be. It fits the idea of a full skirt, but it is really more A-line in design.

It’s easy enough to turn the Hide and Seek dress into a skirt. I simply cut of the bodice to about an inch above the pockets and drafted a waistband. I kept the front princess seams (for the pockets, obviously), but did away with all the other seams to cut the back of the skirt as one. I retained the subtle A-line shape.

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I made this skirt in a lightweight corduroy that will be great for layering over tights in Winter. It also looks great with Miss Seven’s new shirt. I think this little chickadee is developing quite the covetable wardrobe. I’m beginning to get jealous!

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Oliver + S Apple Picking Dress in bird fabric

When I went fabric shopping for my bias dress muslin, I may have purchased a little too much of this particular bird fabric. It has a lovely, light-weight feel and drape, but it is still 100% polyester. I find it easier to overlook the poly-factor when filling my childrens’ wardrobes.

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Miss Seven was the recipient of this Apple Picking Dress by Oliver + S. There are quite a few details in this pattern that require a little extra care, but nothing is particularly complicated. In fact, the only thing that made this dress difficult was my choice of slippery, press-resistant polyester. Pure cotton or silk would sew up like a dream.

I really like the double, front button placket and collar/tie. I also love the loose bodice and drop waist shape. My front placket is far from perfect. I didn’t match my interfacing well enough to the fabric and buttonholes. There’s some puckering on the buttonholes which I find very annoying. I should have gone a little sturdier on the stabilising. Maybe it also would have helped if I’d lowered the stitch tension.

A size 7 in this pattern fits Miss Seven very well. The shoulder width and arm length looks good to me. I sewed the full length arms and they are probably designed to sit a little longer, but this length is very practical for a child. I’m not sure why the front placket is pulling up when the dress is worn. It could be that I tied the collar a little too tight. It could also be due to the way she is standing (with her shoulders back and arched slightly).

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I’ll definitely sew this pattern again. My choice of fabric works beautifully with this style of dress. It’s a design that would also sew up exceptionally well in silk for a special occasion.

 

Back to School // Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress

This dress was a last minute back to school wardrobe top up for Miss Seven. It’s one of her favourite styles of dress during Summer, and the simplicity of the design also makes it a perfect little school frock.  It is the third one I’ve made for her.

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For this version, I made a size 7, but lengthened the dress by omitting the double hem construction. This resulted in a lengthened bottom band which I machine blind hemmed in place. I think I may have forgotten to switch the iron on when I pressed the bottom band! I do that sometimes and wonder why the iron isn’t working. The crease you see is where I’ve blind stitched the hem. I also omitted the front pockets.

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I used beautiful Italian cotton shirting scraps for the top and bottom panels of the dress. Both fabrics were leftover from sewing her father’s business shirts. The mid section of the dress is from a vintage pillowcase I picked up at an estate sale recently. I love the combination of prints and colours, and I especially love that I was able to use up some very lovely shirting scraps to make it. Now, if only I could get her into a pair of shoes other than those horrid Crocs.

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NEW PATTERN // Cartwheel Shorts // custom made in linen

Introducing my newest pattern, the Cartwheel Shorts. These easy, comfy, cartwheel-compatible shorts are suitable for ages 3-10 (approximately). They work well in a variety of woven fabrics, but my favourite versions have been made up in silk CDC and the linen that you see below.

I have ulterior motives in my pattern making. I only make patterns that I love, or that I love seeing on my girls. If I don’t want to see several versions of the same item on my girls every day (or in my own wardrobe), then that pattern isn’t meant to be. I’ll confess that a big motivation behind taking my pattern making to a new level (to include grading) simply comes down to two words: three daughters! I love being able to print out a pattern in three different sizes, and to the exact design that I’d been dreaming of. This shorts pattern is a perfect example. I wanted a dressier looking shorts pattern that would suit my aesthetics, tick their box of approval, and be practical enough for them to play in and wear to school. There were a lot of boxes for me to tick!

The version that you see below was specifically requested by Miss Seven. I drew the line at turquoise linen. Purple was also mentioned in the order, but I neither had purple in my stash, nor was I inclined to compromise my perfectly beautiful Tessuti linen with a purple hem and waistband. I have, however, since changed the buttons that you see below to purple ones.

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I made these shorts up in  View B, which is the same (very slightly tweaked) design as Miss Seven’s recent Cartwheel shorts. An example of View A is Miss Three’s recent fairy shorts, which are shorter, with a cuff.

Miss Seven is wearing an Oliver + S Badminton Top with her new linen shorts.

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Miss Seven’s birthday dress and her all time favourite makes

With the exception of the odd t-shirt, and winter coat, I sew pretty much everything else my daughters wear these days. Thankfully, they are all still at the point where they are delighted with anything and everything that Mummy makes, but there are always clear favourites that get worn day after day, literally until they are fraying at the seams. I always find it interesting to see what emerges as the winner, and why.

The big winners over the past six months (based on frequency of wear) are (working clockwise from the top left): her Twirl to Me dress (I can’t help but feel a little chuffed with this choice),  her recent yellow cartwheel shorts (these surprised me!), the Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress (that retained it’s winning status even when I had to convert it into a skirt), a simple self-drafted cotton maxi skirt, an Oliver + S Ice Cream dress, her Rosie Assoulin knock off, a Go To mini Jaywalker maxi, and finally, that Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress as a skirt and Daddy’s old Ralph Lauren sweater refashioned. My personal favourite is the Rosie Assoulin bow dress. I can’t help but watch her all day when she wears that.

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So what got me thinking about her favourite makes? This Ice Cream dress by Oliver + S. I made Miss Seven a new version for her recent birthday. Her earlier version really needs to be retired, and that’s saying something, because quilting cotton is hard-wearing. The dress is such a practical and comfortable design for kids. It covers the shoulders and yet doesn’t restrict play. It’s also a super easy sew and has become her go-to school uniform.

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I used some beautiful charcoal linen and a little remnant of a floral linen/silk blend that I was lucky enough to find on the remnant table at Tessuti Fabrics many, many moons ago. I miss my weekly remnant shopping excursions. I had quite the stash of Tessuti remnants when I arrived in Kansas a year ago, but they are starting to dwindle now.

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Last stop on the Pinwheel Slip dress brigade

Remember this maxi skirt that I made last Summer. It was a part of a two-piece set-acular. I still have the top. The skirt has been really great to me. The fabric is beautiful and I’ve worn it a lot. I haven’t stopped liking it but I’ve have recently replaced it with a maxi skirt that I like so much more. I’m a realist when it comes to knowing what I actually will wear and what I won’t and there’s only room for one winner in my wardrobe. Let’s just call it a leadership spill in the case of the maxi skirts.

The thing I love about maxi skirts is the huge amount of uncut fabric that goes into making them. In my eyes, this basically gives them two lives (if the fabric is up to scratch). This fabric was. It is a stunning voile that is heavier than your standard voile, but much lighter than a quilting weight cotton, and it has a pretty, slightly satiny finish. It still looks brand new, despite numerous washes and wears.

 

I was able to sneak two Oliver + S Pinwheel slip dresses out of it. I’ll call that a win. I cut one in a size 12, which is currently in transit to it’s recipient in Australia. The other was made up in a size 3 for my littlest peep. Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure what size I cut for this little peep. I suspect I made a mistake during some late night tracing because the skirt front didn’t match the bodice and I had to take a little bit out of the sideseams to fix it on the fly. It’s no big deal though. Little peep still loves her new dress. And she’s got this modelling thing down pat. Queue side pose with robot arms. And that FACE!

And now, are you ready for the grand finale of model poses.
 

Just for the camera, here is her best head tilt and phoniest smile. 




Another Oliver + S Pinwheel Slip dress

This little slip dress is a gift for a different niece of mine. I made it up in a lovely remnant of Nani Iro. I love this Oliver + S pattern so much. It’s not only great for using up pretty little scraps, but it is also such a fool-proof pattern for when you want to sew for others. I love the fact that it looks great as a little dress, but if you miss the mark slightly with the sizing or fabric print, it could also double as a practical Summer nightie.

 

Like before, I made this dress up in a size 5. My exceptionally tall Miss Five is modelling it but her slightly older cousin is a lot more petite. I think the dress will fit the her cousin perfectly.

 

This kid seriously out-cools the rest of the family. I want those sunglasses!

 

 

 

 


A very special Oliver + S School Photo dress

Since Christmas, Miss Six has been wearing her corduroy School Photo dress every other day. She layers it with tights and a long sleeve top to wear to school. It has become her absolute favourite dress. But even better than this is the fact that I also love the look of it. It’s a very smart looking little dress. It’s also clearly very comfortable and warm, given that it is fully lined. 

Now, I don’t often sew clothes for people outside of my immediate family, but the idea of sewing this particular dress for my niece just seemed like the most perfect idea. My niece was born only a week apart from my Miss six, so I was confident with the sizing, as well as the style. It has been such a winner of a dress with my daughter that I hope it will be loved as much by her cousin. 

 
 
For my niece’s version, I used up my last little bits of leftover wool and cashmere scraps. I barely had enough to make this dress, and in fact, I still had to make a few concessions to stretch it far enough. The dress hem is only 1cm. I had to substitute a decent hem to get enough length in the cashmere panel. I also would have liked slightly longer ruffles on the sleeves. But these are only small things in the whole scheme of things.
 
 
 
My only modification to the pattern was in turning the sleeve panels into ruffles. I cut these on the bias which seems to make them curve around and under and hold a beautiful bell shape. This is very much what I wanted them to do, so I think I’m going to store up this idea of sleeve ruffles on the bias for next time.
 

 

I took my time making this dress. The hem was blind stitched by hand and the zipper was hand-stitched to the silk lining scraps, as was deserving of the beautiful fabric I was using. I’m also pretty pleased with my precision seam matching. I shared my newfound trick on how to achieve this on my Instagram account.  


All in all, the dress turned out beautifully. I’m super excited about sending it off to her cousin in Australia. It will arrive a few months before her birthday, but that’s how I roll with presents. My best gifts always miss the target date! And besides, I want her to be able to wear it while it will still fit perfectly, and on the odd chance that Melbourne gets a Wintery day or two before the end of Summer.