Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Oliver + S: Family Reunion Dress

family reunion dress 1

We celebrated my daughter's fourth birthday this past weekend and, in keeping with tradition, I made her a special birthday dress.
(You can see the third birthday dress here and the second birthday dress here.)

family reunion dress 5

I absolutely love this dress. Not only because it turned out great, but also because I tried a few things I've never done in clothes sewing before and I'm pretty proud of myself for it! More on that later...

family reunion dress 2

Can you ever go wrong with an Oliver + S pattern? I can't say enough how much I like these patterns. The instructions are always clear and easy to understand. All the little details make for such a beautiful finish. But all those wonderful details do take time and this dress may have been a bit ambitious for the time frame I had to work in.

family reunion dress 4

You'll notice that this is not the same pattern and fabric I posted when I first mentioned working on a birthday dress for K. I was having issues with the foot pedal of my sewing machine and knew I needed to get it in for service. Having dealt with my slow (and most-unfriendly) machine dealer before, I knew I'd be without my machine for at least a couple of weeks. So I quickly whipped up that dress before I took the machine in to the dealer. Well, the dress turned out too big. And rather than try to alter the dress to make it fit better (which I'm not confident I'd be able to do properly), I decided I'd just make a whole new dress. The first dress will fit eventually (and maybe I've got birthday #5 dress done already!).

family reunion dress 3

So I got my sewing machine back about a week before K's birthday and set to work! When I say I was working on this dress until the last minute, I'm not exaggerating. I had purchased buttons for the back of the dress a few days before, but had forgotten about the decorative buttons for the front tab. The party started at 2 on Saturday, and at 12:30 I was running to the store to find buttons for the front tab.

So what about those new things I tried with this dress? Well K is on the tall side and I always add an inch or two to the hem of any dress or skirt I make for her. Luckily with this dress pattern, I thought far enough ahead to realize that if I just extended the lines of the dress (and followed the outward curve), the hem facing wouldn't fit without adjustment too. So this time, I lengthened the pattern the "proper" way and added an inch to the body of the dress at one of the notches. Check out this Oliver + S post for more info about lengthening and shortening patterns. I usually trace patterns onto freezer paper and in the photo below you can see how I've sliced the pattern and added in the extra length.

family reunion dress 6

I also made my own piping for the dress! I saw some other Family Reunion Dresses on Flickr that inserted piping around the neck and button tab and just loved it. Since I couldn't find any pre-made piping the right color, I made my own by cutting bias strips,inserting yarn in the fold, and then stitching it closed using my zipper foot.

family reunion dress 7

It's the perfect pop of color on the dress!

family reunion dress 8

K had a wonderful birthday party, and she looked great too!


  1. It looks great. It's on my maybe sew list for my niece, Lucy!

  2. I think you did such a lovely job with this! That piping matches up so beautifully on the back of the dress. Well done.

  3. What a beautiful dress! You did an amazing job!


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