yes, I do actually sew!

I’m finding it frighteningly hard to believe its been three whole weeks since Memorial Day; time is flying like crazy for us here this summer!  Hubbie, Humphrey and I headed to my hometown to celebrate this holiday harbinger of summer, and I decided to whip up a little outfit for my cousin’s daughter G to take with me.  I only get to see them four or five times a year, so I always like to come bearing gifts. 🙂  Here is the finished outfit (apologies on the bench background, we were camping and I had to get creative on photo locations):

I made up the Oliver + S Class Picnic shorts in a teal bengaline (which I used because I liked the color and also because I have a huge stash of it in many colors since fabric.com had a major sale on it last fall), and used a long-stashed quilting cotton print for contrast.  The smallest size in the pattern I had was a 5, and seeing as G is almost 4 I thought it wouldn’t be too far off.  Except I totally forgot *just* how skinny that girl is, and the shorts ended up being pretty big.  Oh well, kids grow and until then, elastic to the rescue!

Cinched up back view–love that little inside waistband surprise!

For the top, I really wanted to try out the free Ruffled Halter pattern offered on the Oliver + S blog–it looked so fun and breezy for summer!  The pattern includes sizes XS (18m/2T), S (3T–4T), M (5–6), L (7–8) and XL (10–12).  The instructions suggest using a light-medium weight cotton (such as quilting cotton, shirting or linen), however the only fabric I had in the right color was a drapey rayon (rayon challis, I think), and it worked pretty well–the top maybe had less ‘body’ than was intended for the pattern, but I liked the result.  This top goes together really quickly, comes out adorable, and the pattern is free–you really can’t go wrong!

These were my first Oliver + S projects, and sewing them cemented my utter love of this pattern line.  If you would like to read more of the nitty-gritty sewing details, you can read my pattern reviews here and here.  I’m currently working on another pair of the class picnic shorts as well as the class picnic top for my niece–sewing on those has been a little stop-and-go though because of my current near-compulsive drive to clean/organize my sewing room.  They’ll probably have to wait even longer to get finished, because I have two other projects that MUST get finished by Saturday–a birthday dress for my goddaughter and a ‘welcome baby’ gift for my friend E and two-week-old daughter who I’m flying to Cali to see this Sunday!  Ah, new baby visiting, yay!

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oh oliver + s, how I love thee!

I have been seeing some absolutely adorable clothing being made from these quirky paper-doll-looking kids patterns around the blog world for quite some time now, but since they were kind of pricey and not available locally, they weren’t really on my ‘must-buy’ radar. I really try to spread out my sewing dollar and have grown accustomed to the $1.99 big 4 pattern sale…also I avoid online boutique buying sometimes because I *loathe* paying shipping charges.

However, after falling in love with the Class Picnic Shorts/Blouse pattern and musing over it for a month, I really couldn’t resist any longer!  I found an ebay seller who had a small selection of O+S patterns for slightly less than retail price and pulled the trigger.  And why buy just one when I can get three and pay virtually the same shipping charge??  These were my first three Oliver + S pattern acquisitions:

I bought my much-drooled over Class Picnic pattern along with the Ice Cream Dress (what a cute baby gift this will make!) and the Sailboat top/pants/shirt pattern.  I had seen some adorable sailboat pants on one of the sewing blogs I read (sorry but my memory fails just now as to whose blog I saw those on), and figured it would be a good staple to have around.

Okay, three patterns, thats a pretty reasonable purchase and within the budget I allow myself for craft/hobby spending.  No guilt on that one.  Fast forward a week, I trace, cut and sew a pair of the class picnic shorts, and discover this pattern is AWESOME.  Not only is it a cute, inventive style, but the directions are fabulous–just the right balance of wordy and picture-y with some incredibly helpful hints and some techniques that I’d never really considered but that worked great.  Within an hour of finishing my first pair, I had another pair cut out, along with a class picnic top to match (those will be a birthday gift for my niece).  Also, I’d devoured the instruction sheets for both other patterns I bought, confirming that this awesomeness was really an across-the-board thing….and I’d hit up patternreview and pretty much read every oliver+s review there…oh, AND decided I *must* have the Sunday Brunch pattern, the Jumprope Dress pattern, and the Schooldays Jacket pattern.

This took a little searching, as both the jumprope and sunday brunch are out of print in the 4-8 size (which, based on the girls I had in mind to sew this for, seemed like the better choice).  I finally found both at an online boutique (I won’t post where because they are out of them at this point).  But really, three more patterns?  That’s six…okay, pushing it, I didn’t really **need** three more patterns, I don’t even have kids!  Too bad reasonable, financially responsible part of my brain, I am hooked by these adorable excellently crafted patterns. Impulse shopping trumps you again!!

As I was now going to be sewing these lovely o+s patterns, I thought I’d check out the forums on the Oliver + S website to see if there were any good tips/tricks/sewalongs available.  It is actually a great resource and you can sort the posts by pattern, which is a great way to find or post issues for a specific project–but I also found some lovely enablers who had posted places to find oliver + s pattern sales, and how could I resist rounding out my collection for $11/pattern?  That is the special introductory price currently being offered over at fabricdepot.  I was also pleased to note that their shipping charges were quite reasonable.

So I added the 2 + 2 Blouse/Skirt, the School Photo Dress and the Hopscotch Skirt/Top/Dress pattern to my stash.  Yes, we are in full-on awesome-pattern-induced shopping craziness at this point.  NINE patterns??  Will I even make all these lovely clothes up?  Well, maybe not right away, but I firmly believe these styles will stand the test of time. Also, as is probably reasonable for a small company, patterns go out of print fairly routinely–in fact a few days after making this last purchase, I see O+S announced they are retiring the 2+2 pattern.  On the flip side of that, they announce new patterns fairly routinely as well; hopefully there will be 2-3 new patterns released for fall.

The point of this post I (besides the fact that I apparently have no self-control once I get really excited about something), it that  Oliver + S patterns were really a nice surprise in both the quality of the instructions and the versatility of the styles.  If you do any sewing for children, I would encourage you to check these out; I enjoyed the actual sewing experience using an O+S pattern SO MUCH MORE than the last Big4 kids pattern I made. And at the end of the day, what do I want from my sewing–a fantastic finished product and a frustration-free (hmm, that might be impossible, so lets say ‘frustration-light’) sewing experience, and my Oliver+S pattern delivered!