Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Finished: Tea Party Sundress (Oliver + S )

Z's Orange Tea Party dress

We will not discuss that this two-button dress has (cough!) four buttonholes on it. Instead we will just be blinded by the cuteness of the toddler wearing it.

Inspiration: My sewing machine called, and wanted to know where I'd been for the last 18 months. Also, Ms. Z looks really cute in orange. Also, she was about to outgrow the largest size of this out-of-print pattern. Also I wanted to sew something that was just about pure sewing and didn't involve ANY FITTING OR PATTERN ALTERATIONS OR DAYS SPENT SWEARING AT MUSLIN AND PATTERN PAPER whatsoever. OK then! Deep breath.

The pattern: Oliver + S Tea Party Sundress.

Photos: Sorry for the lack of natural light--the day was ending and by the time I got her to stop running around squealing with joy long enough to get a clear photo, I had to use the dreaded flash.

This front view best captures the adorably flared skirt (the hem facing seems to help it keep its shape almost hoop-skirt-like!) and lovely curved bodice seaming:

Z's Orange Tea Party dress

And this view best capture's Ms. Z's bubbly personality:

Z's Orange Tea Party dress

Pattern Description:

Simple sundress (or playsuit) with button straps, curved bodice, optional piping, and flared gored skirt, plus bloomers with an elastic waist and legs. I cut out the bloomers too but haven't gotten elastic yet.

Pattern Sizing:

Birth-24 Month or 2T-5. I made the 24 month size, and it fits my 27-lb 18-month-old just fine--for now. Maybe not so much by the time the summer weather it was designed for rolls around.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, although I skipped the piping. Because I am afraid.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were a joy! Very clear and nicely graphic designed to boot, not all crowded and cryptic like the Big 4.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Like: I love the clean modern lines of it--the curved bodice and the two prominent buttons and the flared gored skirt. I think the fully lined bodice and hem facing (instead of a regular hem) were nice touches as well.

Dislike: I really love the illustrations on the Oliver + S pattern envelopes and website--the style of them anyway. But I really don't love that they are all of the same little white girl and little white boy. I should probably write a gently worded note to the pattern company--I want to support such a great independent modern children's pattern company for sure, but I'd really like to see some diversity in their illustrations.

The Big 4 may throw goofy trims all over the toddler dresses on their pattern envelopes (rick rack on top of ribbons with bows on ruffles and zippers on flounces...) but at least there are little girls on their envelopes who look a bit like my daughter.

(Edited to add: Striking out this critique because I did indeed write a nice note to the designer and she instantly responded with a really warm and welcoming email where she gave me a hint as to her big plans for her website and paper doll illustrations in 2012 ... and also directed me to her book which features a wide variety of adorable children. So I am now just a whole-hearted fan at this point.)

Fabric Used: Heather Ross orange floral cotton (gauze?) from the Far Far Away collection, purchased at Brooklyn General, plus random brown broadcloth left over from a Reno 911 Halloween costume I made for my husband. The Heather Ross fabric was a delight -- super soft and floaty and kinda crumply -- not like the nasty stiff cheapo quilting cotton I sewed Z's last dress out of.

The buttons are from M&J Trimming and have really cute little white flowers on the holes:

Z's Orange Tea Party dress -- button detail

Finishing notes:

  • The curved seam was a bit tricky, even though this was a beginner pattern. I took it REALLY slow.
  • I hemmed the skirt (hem facing) by hand--
  • My top-stitching has improved a lot, mainly due to the edge stitching foot I got since my last top-stitching disaster. I love this thing!
  • I just pinked the seams. As my mom says "by the time they fray, she'll have outgrown it anyway."
  • The bodice is lined with the skirt fabric, and the skirt hem is faced with the bodice fabric. WOW.


  • This is the first complete garment I've sewn in a gazillion trillion eons of eras of something.
  • It fits.
  • I made my first buttonholes EVER. It was so easy that this dress has four of them (three on one side, one on the other), because even though I practiced a few times with my Viking's magic "sensor buttonhole foot", I still managed to get the placement wrong. I'm going to put buttonholes on everything now! Whee!

Room for improvement?: See above regarding extra buttonholes. I gave up trying to remove them with my seam ripper and just hoped no one would look that closely.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes to both.

Conclusion: Z loves her fancy new sundress-she was twirling all over the place so much I realized why this dress was designed to go with diaper-covering bloomers.

Bonus Christmas-tree-decorating shot (you can see the hem facing):

Z decorates the tree in her Tea Party sundress

Next up: the apple-patterned corduroy Christmas jumper, which should be done by in a day or two.


  1. Very cute! You could probably just some tights and a long sleeve shirt under it and it would be a little more wintery.

  2. aww...super cute! I love the color combo and the buttons are adorable. (not to mention the little girl!)

  3. Cute!!! I completely agree about the O+s illustrations, btw, and I think you SHOULD write a nicely worded letter.

  4. Aw, so sweet!

    Btw, I'm pretty sure the little girl on the pattern is supposed to be Tsia, the designer's daughter.

  5. Thanks for the background info on the pattern illustration--that didn't even occur to me! I still think I'll write a very polite note, though.

  6. Your baby is just toooooo cute beyond words! Such an eyecatchingly adorable and stylish jumper!

  7. I did indeed write a nice note to the designer and she was super awesome about it--she instantly responded with a really warm and welcoming email where she gave me a hint as to her big plans for her website and paper doll illustrations in 2012 ... and also directed me to her book which features a wide variety of adorable children. I've edited the post above to reflect this.

  8. I just saw this from Oliver + s, announcing their new model/paperdoll, and thought of this post! http://oliverands.com/blog/2012/03/introducing-holly.html


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