Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The second school dress

Today I finished O's second school dress.  For this one I used the Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress pattern, which is from their new spring range and comes in sizes from 6 months to age 12.

This is the first time I've made an Oliver + S pattern, and I didn't like it as much as the Simplicity or Ottobre patterns I've used.

Oliver + S get much praise for creating patterns which give you 'professional looking' garments.  To me though, that professional finish comes at the cost of the whole pattern being far too fiddly and long winded.  One of the most onerous and bizarre suggestions was to sew a line of tacking (or basting) stitches whenever you folded a seam, to give you a neat guide line to fold your seam on.  I don't find folding a 1cm seam too difficult so I skipped this step whenever it was suggested.

The yoke was constructed in a very unintuitive way, and I had several sweary moments when I sewed pieces on the wrong way round or caught excess fabric up in a seam by mistake.

The bottom (dark blue) panel is made with a double thickness of fabric, and the way it is constructed means that the dress is not hemmed because there is no unfinished edge at the bottom.  The pattern designers may have thought that not hemming a dress makes life easier (and hemming is tedious, I agree) but it meant that I had no adjustability with the length, and the dress has come out about 3cm shorter than I wanted.

It is a sweet dress to look at, and is indeed finished very neatly and professionally, but I found the whole process far more fiddly than was necessary. 

My biggest issue, however, is that the finished dress is very wide and sack-like on O - you could fit two seven year olds inside!  I think the design would work much better on a stout toddler than on a slim, leggy older child.

The pattern also contains a blouse version of this dress, and I will probably make that for O, but I don't think I'll be making another of these dresses.  And I definitely would not make this pattern in gingham again - all those lines and squares to match up along the panels and the pockets did my head in - forgiving non-directional prints are the way to go with this one!


  1. That is absolutely darling! I love the black and blue together!

  2. Some good points Nancy, I've been after trying out one of the Oliver and S patterns, they are presented in a much more appealing packet than other patterns. Result looks good though. Cathy

  3. Thank you so much for such an honest review - I've been long coveting an Oliver + S pattern, so it was good to hear what the pitfalls to bear in mind might be...the crease-line stitching does sound a little tedious.

    However, the finished dress looks completely wonderful and can only imagine that sack or no sack your girlie will be the envy of the playground. x

  4. You really hit the nail on the head in terms of what annoys me about Oliver + S patterns. They use way too many words to get the point across. Sometimes I just want the pattern to simply say "right sides together" and not some long-winded explanation of putting one piece of fabric down with the right side of the fabric facing up and then placing the next piece down on top of it with the right side of the fabric facing down so that the two right sides of the fabric are touching...you get the picture. I struggled with the yoke too! But good work on your dress! Very cute!

  5. i wish i had read your review before
    ordering the pattern, i have a very skinny daughter! well done though it looks lovely as a school dress.

  6. The dress looks lovely - but the pattern sounds less so! I can imagine the headache you had with the checky fabric too! Lucy x

  7. The O&S patterns are written so that beginners can understand them, which I have always appreciated. I don't really like this pattern as much as their others though - it is pretty sacky!

  8. one... to increase the length, add 3 cm to the light blue, so the hem is the original but the body-part is longer.

    two...my daughter would never wear this dress, because it is so shapeless at the waist. i would add a length of ribbon to tie a sash in front, but because this dress looks so "sophisticated" , i think a belt in the same fabric will work beautifully to cinch it at the waist.

    you can easily google to find free patterns to make a fabric belt.

    beautiful dress, wonderful work. congrats!


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