I'm going to make a bold statement. I think Oliver+S patterns might be my favorite ever. Ever ever. The designs are classic but unique, and allow for so much customization. Not to mention how much they teach you in their pattern directions!
I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of the Library Dress, one of three new O+S patterns from their fall line. You can see the other two patterns, and find ordering info, here.
I think it's perfect that I received this pattern, since my sewing room also doubles as our own "library". If I needed inspiration, I could just glance to my right and see all the lovely books I've acquired over the years. The Library Dress has a cross-over front bodice, with a pleated skirt and front waistband. It buttons up in the back. View A has a collar and short sleeves, and View B has no collar and three-quarter length sleeves with a notched cuff. I ended up making one of each view for AB!
Both dresses are size 12-18 months. AB will be 19 months old next week, but she'll probably fit this size for a while still. I made View A first. I've had this owl print for more than a year, I think I bought it before I even had my sewing machine! It's from Jo-Ann's but I got it out of the remnant bin, so I don't have much more info than that. I've been saving it for the perfect project, and this was it!
The green accent fabric is cotton poplin from Mood (leftover from this dress). By happy coincidence, it matches the owl fabric perfectly.
I really wanted to make this dress special, and I decided to embroider the collars. The leaves (which I did with a specialty stitch on my machine) nicely mimic the branches on the owl fabric.
The instructions call for flat piping along the waistband, but I added regular black piping. If you're wary of piping (I am!) this is a good pattern to practice with, because the lines are easy to follow.
Full disclosure: I totally messed up the cross-over/mock wrap on this version. I lost track of my notches and didn't cross the bodice pieces over in the right place, resulting in a low-cut wrap. Hence why AB is wearing a onesie underneath.
The buttons in the back are easy to do since there's simply a facing, no crazy placket or anything. Instead of using iron-on interfacing on the back facings, I used muslin. I'm kind of in love with muslin-as-interfacing now that I've tried it (just make sure to prewash your muslin!).
I took my time with this and as a result, I can show you the guts of it without being too embarrassed!
I finished most seams with my serger, and on the inside waistband (pictured above) I handstitched the bottom edge so that it wouldn't show on the outside (and so I wouldn't have to stitch in the ditch).
Since I messed up the front of this one, I really wanted to make another dress and figure out what I'd done wrong. I made sure to take good notes in my Sewist's Notebook! This time I made View B.
The fabric is chambray, which is just so stinking wonderful to use. It's actually two different kinds of chambray, the top portion is from Jo-Ann's and the skirt pieces are from Fabric.com. The chevron is quilting cotton from Jo-Ann's. The ruffle trim was purchased at a garage sale.
I wanted a simple version to complement my busy owl dress, but still with fun details like the chevrons. I'm crazy about how sweet the ruffle trim looks along the neckline.
The instructions tell you to fold up the cuffs and tack them down, but I wanted options and decided to add buttons instead. Now the cuffs can be rolled up and buttoned, or left down.
There are some places where I topstitched even if the directions didn't call for it. It's also worth mentioning that you need to be precise with your seam allowances. Since the waistband connects the bodice to the skirt on the front only (it is NOT sewn on top of the dress and there is no waistband in the back) it's easy to end up with a front and back that don't line up properly (ask me how I know!).
Dress front, interior.
Dress back, interior.
I didn't have quite enough chevron fabric for the back facing, so I used some stash cotton batiste (from Mood). I also finished the raw edge with rayon seam binding (LOVE this stuff!).
You can really see the two shades of the chambray in the above photo, and the seam binding along the back facing.
This is a lovely pattern and I'm sure people will be going crazy with waistband embellishments, color-blocking, trims, and who knows what else! It is fairly time-consuming (both of mine took about 3 days sewing on and off all day) but I find that O+S patterns are always worth the effort.
Next week, Sew, Mama, Sew will be featuring all three of the new Oliver+S fall patterns, so head over there to check out the other versions!