Sunday, May 4, 2014

Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse & Shorts in yellow and blue

This is one of my very favorite Oliver + S patterns. I made the top last fall and lengthened it to a dress. Rachel never wore it, though, because I didn't like the fabrics I chose and it looked like a nightgown. The fit was perfect on her then, so I made the same size in blouse form.  These coordinating fabrics are part of the Oliver + S for Moda line (now sold out) and were purchased from several years ago. I only purchased 1 yard of each but as clothing for little girls barely takes any yardage, I have lots left over to use in later years.

For the blouse I cut the 6-12 month for width and 2T for length. The sleeves were cut at the shortest size to be cool for summer. The shorts I knew needed to be cut at the 6-12 month for width but was uncertain what to cut for length. I ended up measuring the crotch length on Rachel, comparing that with the pattern, then cutting the 18-24 month for length.

I just love the design of this pattern! What other pattern company is making peasant-style tops or shorts with such cute details? Also, the construction techniques are different and really thoughtful (except in one particular head-scratching instruction noted below.)

Here you can see the top of the shorts and all the fun topstitching. I love the mock-fly front! The way the legs are finished with the edging is really interesting and leaves the edges neat and crisp. I'm planning to make a pair in denim with orange topstitching and the reverse side for the edging. Won't that be adorable?

I used the checked fabric for the inside yokes of the blouse and the bias strips at the sleeve tops for a bit of fun. You can see it peeking out when she moves around. The shorts are finished at the back with topstitching top and bottom to keep the elastic in place.

The pattern calls for the contrast fabric at the inside waistband which matches what I did on the blouse. All the raw edges were finished with my machine's over-locking foot. I deviated from the instructions by folding the seam allowance of the waistband up and slip-stitching it in place. Their way is fine, too, but I like the neat finish of this technique better. In a thicker fabric it would be too bulky but with these thinner cottons it works perfectly.

I chose not to topstitch the yokes along the gathered fronts but slip-stitched them down instead.

Okay, so my one complaint about this pattern is the width of the shorts edging around the curves and up to the waistband. It should be the same around the entire leg opening but in those locations it was 1/4" wider. I didn't notice this issue until I folded the edging to the front and was about to topstitch it down. I had to go back to cut away the excess, then refolded it to topstitch. The picture below is what it looked like before I trimmed away the extra width.

Here you can see where I corrected my pattern tracing for the next time I make these. The edges of the paper are curving up so it doesn't look congruent but it is.

As for the head-scratching instruction that I mentioned above, it came as a hint of what to do to obtain a nice curve at the outside of the edging. It tells you to first trim away the seam allowance to 1/8", then sew a gathering stitch around the curve to cinch up the seam allowance, then flip the facing to the outside and topstitch. I've never tried this method, so maybe I'm mistaken, but that seems like a sure fire way of ending up with bulky curves right at the front of the garment - especially if using some sort of heavier weight material like a denim. I always want to reduce bulk and make things lie smoothly, so instead I graded my seam allowances and cut little notches all along the curves. One thing my mom taught me to do is always grade my seams, and I am a Nazi about it. Nothing looks more happy-hands-at-home then lumpy edges.

I do think this is a fantastic pattern but for those two minor quibbles, and I love Rachel's new outfit. It's a little strange to see her in clothing that actually fits as I've gotten so use to seeing her in things that are too big and baggy.

Up next is a dress for me, in case you're tired of all these little girl garments and think I've abandoned sewing for myself. :)