Sewing – How I Got Started, Part 2 (or a love letter to Oliver + S)
After I tackled my first quilt, I felt like I was ready to try something a little more difficult. I decided that I wanted to make a baptism dress for Alma, but I wanted to make something she could wear for more than just her baptism (ie not a traditional ‘gown’). My mom and I were at a fabric store in Portland when we saw a sweet pattern for a sweet dress. It was the Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress. We picked out a fabric that was mostly white (to keep it somewhat traditional) and I was set.
But of course, I got scared. I decided to sew a rough draft. I read through the directions and got terrified. It was so crazy and confusing to me! There were button holes, pintucks, ruffles, interfacing, hems, collars, lots of scary stuff! I figured the best thing to do was to just jump right in and start sewing.
One of the first steps were doing the pintucks. These ended up being fun, because I sort of felt like a professional-sewing-super-star after seeing how cute they were turning out! The instructions were so clear and easy to follow.
I kept on sewing. Whenever I got to something that seemed confusing, I would take a break (sometimes a few days…). Once I finally got around to trying it, it was always way easier than I had expected. Soon, I had a fully constructed dress and I felt silly for doing a rough draft. The instructions were so great that I totally could have done the baptism dress on the first try!
Then I decided to make three more for Alma and her cousins to wear to their aunt and uncle’s (my brother) wedding. This time I had to make them in different sizes. I also decided that since it was a summer wedding, I would make them sleeveless.
I felt like I had learned enough tricks from Oliver + S to alter the pattern a little bit. I ended up making my own bias tape and just finishing the bodice sleeve openings with it. The girls looked so sweet in their cheerful dresses!
Next up were winter hats from the Oliver + S Little Things to Sew book. Again, I stretched my comfort zone a little bit and used new fabrics that can be hard to work with – velvet and wool shirting. The instructions were amazing again, and I had two cute hats for my two little lambs to wear.
Halloween was coming up, so I thought my freckled-faced-almost-redhead would make a cute Pippi. The biased trim apron seemed like a perfect costume idea (that we could use as an apron after Halloween!). This one taught me a lot more about how to use bias tape (and taught me what I had done wrong when I altered the dresses – ha!). I also learned a cool way to make a pocket!
I was on a roll. For Christmas, I decided Alma needed a doll carrier for the baby doll Harriet brought her from the hospital. Another way to make a pocket, more practice with curved edges, and a couple button holes later, and Alma had a fun doll carrier!
Now it is time for Harriet’s baptism. I wanted to try another Oliver + S pattern and finally decided on the Fairy Tale Dress. Now this one was scary! Fully lined, petal sleeves, invisible zipper, peter pan collar! Oh my!
Again, I just took it step by step and it all worked out. Ohmygosh is it cute!
I love these patterns because they are great for a beginning seamstress. The steps are clearly explained, with simple, yet complete illustrations. I love the feeling I get after every step, when the dresses start to look like dresses. I love that I go from being terrified of messing up, (to messing up), to doing it right, to having an amazing finished project!
I also love that I can use the skills I learned in the patterns for other projects. I have so many skills in my back pocket now! I even have enough confidence with the aspects in these projects that I am toying with designing my own dresses for the girls.
(I should note that Oliver + S has no idea that I’m writing this. They don’t know who I am at all, though they did once comment on one of my instagram photos and made me feel like I had a brush with fame.)
(I also want to note that I got most of my fabrics from Piece by Piece and if you’re in Eugene, it’s my absolute favorite fabric store in town.)