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September is a month of many exciting things… the Glee premiere, the return of the Salted Caramel Mocha and Pumpkin Spice Latte, and the first day of school! For crafters, or rather sewers, it’s also a very important month! That’s right… September is National Sewing Month. As such, I just couldn’t let this month go by without a write-up about a little sewing project that I completed recently (ok, ok… so I didn’t spend any time behind the sewing machine this month per se)…

I know that many of you won’t be surprised when I disclose that my little sewing project involved creating something for a little one (as I’ve mentioned before, sewing little articles of clothing is just so much easier and less intimidating!). Furthermore, the fact that I sewed an oliver + s project won’t surprise many either! After a year of drooling over and accumulating patterns and fabrics, I finally settled down and sewed up oliver + s‘s Bubble Dress for my sweet friend, Kelly‘s daughter, Beatrice (you can get a peek at both of them making gelato here).

Bubble Dress Excerpt From http://www.oliverands.com

Truth be told, this little project had my (Kelly, I hope you don’t mind that I’m being possessive!) hungry caterpillar‘s name all over it once I found the fabric (which was part of Liesl’s City Weekend Collection). The bright blue reminded me of little Bea’s eyes and I knew that she would look oh-so-adorable waddling around in the this oh-so-comfy looking dress. If that weren’t perfect enough, the pattern also featured a respectable difficulty level which served as the perfect reintroduction to sewing clothing (as compared to accessories or blankets which have been featured previously on HBH). I sure do hope you enjoy browsing through the pictures of my sewing adventure!

Following prior precedent, the fabric comprising little Bea's dress was washed and dried...

... and ironed (ugh!).

Project supplies were pretty simple really. In addition to the fabric, the dress called for interfacing, thread, buttons and elastic.

Traditional patterns can be intimidating. Oliver + s's run a little more than some (~$15 each) but they come printed on beautiful, heavy-weight paper.

I traced my pattern pieces so that I would be able to preserve the original one for future sewing adventures (especially since the Bubble Dress is out of print!).

There were quite a few pieces to trace...

... and cut!

Prior to making the dress, I read the instructions several times over. I also studied the pattern piece layout so I would not waste any fabric!

A pattern board (I got mine at Amazon.com) makes folding and pinning pattern pieces easy breezy. It also gives you peace of mind against scratching your wood finish!

Here's a close up of the back shoulder of the dress being pieced on the lining fabric.

The cutting doesn't stop at pattern pieces... the fabric has to be cut too!

Finally, the sewing gets to start! Here the interfacing is being applied.

A placket is sewn (top of the picture) and the lining and outer fabric of the bodice is sewn together.


Oliver + s patterns include a lot of great finishing details. What is one I couldn't complete? A top stitch around the armholes as they were just too tiny to fit onto the machine's arm with enough slack to move the fabric around without resistance!

After the bodice was pieced together, it was time to make the skirt complete with the bubble hem. It all started with sewing the elastic into a loop.

I then sectioned the elastic loop into four quadrants and marked them up.

The bubble hem forms from the piece of elastic being sewn around the skirt's hem. Because the elastic is a few inches shorter than the hem, the fabric puckers.


With one end of the dress finished, it was time to work on the upper half. Here is where I also learned a new technique to attach the dress to the bodice consisting of sewing two running stitches (really long and loose stitches) along the raw edge.

The four strings are then pulled so the top of the dress cinches...

... to a point where its circumference is the same as the bottom of the bodice.

After a few more seams (and some illustrative demonstrations by my mother), I had a dress that looked remarkably similar to the illustration on the pattern sleeve! Oh boy!

This brought me to the last big step: the BUTTONS!

Using the marks which I transferred to the pattern, I marked the dress with tailor's chalk...

... and then re-acquainted myself with the modern-day sewer's best friend: the BUTTON-HOLE MAKER!

Using the actual button which will be sewn onto the dress, the button-hole maker will make a precise button-hole.


The Bubble Dress came a close when I sewed on the buttons and found the perfect bow (because bows are very important to waddlers)!

Speaking of waddlers... here's Bea in her Bubble Dress and bow!

I think my hungry caterpillar is turning into a heartbreaker - don't you?

Project Notes

*Sewing from patterns takes time mostly due to the pattern copying and the cutting/pinning of the fabric. As such, I suggest bifurcating any project into two parts: the prep and the sewing.

*Due to my limited sewing skills, I also opted out of finishing the edge where the bodice was attached to the skirt. I simply didn’t have enough fabric to fold, press, and then sew the seam. Oh and what about those adorable scallops? Let’s just say I need to practice sewing around some curves – the cap sleeves alone nearly killed me!

*Ok, ok… so this is my third time professing my utmost admiration of oliver + s/Liesl Gipson‘s fabrics and patterns (prior raves are here and here). From now on, you’ll find a direct link on HBH’s Resources page!

*Do you live in the Puget Sound and want to learn to sew? Here are two great resources (reputation only as I’ve shopped at both but haven’t actually taken a class… yet):

Pacific Fabrics and Crafts (Several Locations around Puget Sound)

Stitches (On Capitol Hill in Seattle)