Saturday, 17 March 2018

My Brief History of Oliver and S Sewing

Over at Oliver and S, the team are celebrating their 10 year anniversary, as well as the release of pattern number 50

I have been sewing with these patterns since my eldest was 4 years old and they are an integral part of why my love of sewing has developed over the years. 
If you have never sewn with an Oliver and S pattern, there are some free ones to give you a taster on the website. You will soon see how clever the patterns are and how easy the instructions are to follow. 

Liesl is capturing lots of memories in her anniversary blog posts, and that got me thinking about all the times I have used the patterns in the past few years. I browsed my photo library and then started grouping the patterns together to see how many times I have used them. It is safe to say that my girls have grown up wearing Oliver and S and will continue to do so for many years to come!

Some of the clothes were made for specific reasons, be that a play or a dress up day at school. Some for special birthdays (well, all birthdays are special, but you know what I mean), some for gifts. Looking at the photographs for me bring back so many evocative memories. If you will indulge me, I wanted to share them with you.

Grab a cuppa, this is a long post! So here goes....

Firefly Jacket

One of the singles patterns. Only made once but it looks lovely on.

Art Gallery

This is one of those sewing memories. I made the waistcoat and trousers for my eldest when she starred as Willy Wonka for a school production. I didn't own the pattern before but knew when I got my costume requirements, that I needed it!

 Lullaby Layette

If you know someone who is expecting a baby, this is an absolute must-buy! These pants were made for a school friend who had a baby boy and while I didn't make the jacket from the pattern, I knitted up a tiny sweater to go with them. I may be using this pattern again in the near future as a few friends are expecting, and I can't wait to make the full set.

 Family Reunion

My daughters first true love! She wore the purple version constantly. Whenever it was clean. Sometimes when it wasn't!

 After School

One of my all time favourite patterns are the After School Pants. There is testimony to that on the Oliver and S blog, where I was honoured to be asked to write about them in the Favorite Patterns series. They make fantastic jeans and are very hardwearing with all those sturdy side seams, yet girly enough for my two with the optional ruffles.

School Days Coat 

Something I never dreamt I could make was a proper warm coat. This pattern held my hand all the way through and I jumped with joy when the project was completed!

Music Class

Ahh the beautiful Music Class blouse makes me smile everytime. The sweet peter pan collar and girly pleats make this a sew to be proud of. Both the skirt and blouse are part of my core school uniform sewing patterns. I have made more versions of this that I can count.

Music Box Jumper

Another staple for school uniform in our house. I have never made this as a regular dress and probably should before my time runs out.

Bubble Dress

Two of these dresses were gifted. I have made it with or without the elastic in the hem and made a themed fox version for the Gingerbread Man play my little girl took part in at nursery. My favourite was the blue dress in the centre photo. 

Jump Rope Dress

Every summer dress for school has been made using both versions of this pattern. The pockets are roomy and hold many treasures (or sometimes just tissues). The instructions were the first placket instructions I ever tackled and I just wanted to shout 'Yes!' from the rooftops once it was finished. Such a beautiful pattern and one that has become a firm favourite for many people.

Fairytale Dress

The Birthday Dress! How could this not be the most perfect pattern for birthday parties and celebrations. I thought I had made more of these, and am shocked that I have only ever sewn it once. I have pulled out the instructions countless times for the invisible zipper installation, because it makes perfect sense of a tricky sewing step. Maybe that is why I think there should be more dresses!

Class Picnic

I came to this pattern quite late on and bought it on the basis of the gorgeous shorts that kept popping up in the Flickr group. The shorts are so satisfying to make and the top is one of those things that I didn't think I needed in my life, but once I had made it, I realised it was an absolute gem.

Field Trip

I simply must make some more of these cargoes! They are quite time consuming but all those small steps make a fantastic pair of pants. The tee I have made up a few times, even using sweatshirt fleece as a quick sweater for Scouts camp when I discovered we needed one the night before.

Tea Party

The first of the original designs and one of the prettiest sundresses to boot. The pink one with its matching dolly sized dress, was a birthday gift to a school friend and the cream Kokka print was the first dress I ever sewed L as a toddler.


I use the dress view as a nightgown and the skort as school uniform. I have only sewn the top up once and it makes a lovely summer vest. The shorts can be sewn on their own without the skirt and they are nice and simple for pairing with summer tops.


I love the girly-ness of this skirt. It is fully lined, making the finish look professional, and the waistband casing is genius.
The top I have only ever made once, but absolutely loved it. It has gone off to warmer climates now so it has a second life. I ran out of time to make more of these because the pattern sadly only goes up to age 5, but like the Puppet Show shorts, it look so cute on young children, so my advice is, make it while you still can!

Hide and Seek Dress

We don't have a lot of warm weather over here and to find a dress pattern with longer sleeves, that looks as smart as this one does, is a pure joy. The girls look lovely in both of these versions and I always get compliments whenever they are worn.

Lunchbox Tee and Culottes

The lunchbox tee has become the go-to top in our house. We wear the short sleeved versions ALL THE TIME! (Boo and I are both in the Bento tee - the adult version - now) I have made the long sleeved tee into a dress as well (but couldn't find my photo).
The culottes have been made twice for school, below are the wool pair that kept her snuggly last winter. The black pair were made from velveteen and the flowery pair from baby needlecord.

Nature Walk Pants

The ultimate comfy chilling out pants! The grey pair were made from fleece backed sweatshirting as joggers. The other pair were made as pyjama bottoms out of a cotton jersey. I did a lettuce hem on them to match the vest top. They were a big hit!

Puppet Show

My first ever make was the plain pink tunic top. It was a great introduction to the brand and I took my time learning all the different steps and remember really enjoying myself as I tried out new techniques. 
I made the red shorts next and they went on our beach holiday where she ran into the sea fully clothed on the first day!
I dressed her up as Alice in Wonderland for World Book Day and used 2 plain blue pillowcases to make the dress version, which was worn with a little white apron and long white socks

The shorts are fantastic. They are so versatile and look very sweet on. When I made the flowery pair with matching Bucket Hat, I lined them completely so they looked perfect on the inside. This set was a birthday present for a school friend.


My most traced off pattern! The skirt, trousers and top all got worn without complaint. The striped top is my favourite.


I use the 2+2 skirt as school uniform a lot. It is just so easy to wear. 

Sunday Brunch

The jacket to this pattern is absolutely gorgeous! Mine was made from a baby needlecord and the attention to detail on the inside is a sewing lesson in itself. This one will test your binding skills.
I loved the little printed skirt and it reminds me of a day out in the Peak District eating Bakewell tarts whenever I see the photos.


I just love this skirt and will make many more for L. The pockets are very cleverly constructed and the placket makes it stand out. Not just your average skirt!

The yellow top was my first attempt at knit fabrics using a large womens tee as practice. I soon got the hang of it and the girls wear the tee's and the longer dresses all the time. 

Seashore Dress

How gorgeous is this pattern? This is one I am so glad I made. I love the cut of the dress and the pockets at the bottom. 
I used a mish-mash of patterns to make a Queen Elsa dress. I used the bodice of the Seashore and attatched it to a Heidi and Finn Tee (the Tulip Tee) which has an all-in-one upper bodice, making the two patterns attach perfectly. 

Playtime Dress

I haven't made enough of these by far. It looks lovely on and the leggings that go with the pattern are a really good fit. The horse print one was a present for my niece, and the spotty version was Boo's Christmas Day dress one year.

Ice Cream

The strawberry print version was the first one I made (and the only dress version, that I can remember making) The tops are easy to make and wear. The one in the center is a Liberty print that we bought on a weekend trip to London and is so light and soft to wear. 


My little scamp loved wearing her robot dress! I have packed that one away and will keep it safe. Such a great pattern.


As soon as I saw this pattern, I knew I wanted to make a gingham version. I have a soft spot for that little top with its lace trim. I must put the gathered skirt version on my to-do list as it is the one that attracted me to the pattern and I haven't made it yet!

Phew! If you have made it this far, well done!

I think spending some time going over my makes has done me some good. I remember why I made some clothes and how I wanted to go back and make some of the other versions. I still have some unused patterns to make as well. Hopefully, this will give me the boost to crack the envelopes open!

As you can see, Oliver and S patterns have been part of my life for so many years now, where would I be without them! So Happy 10th Anniversary to Liesl, Todd and team and long may it continue!


Saturday, 23 December 2017

Fidra Hat

Pattern: Fidra Hat by Gudrun Johnston (on Ravelry)
Yarn: James.C Brett Chunky with Merino

Every winter I like to add to my knitted hat collection and this year I wanted something chunky, something neutral and something with a pompom.

The Fidra pattern fit the bill perfectly. I love the detailing on the sides and the front and once I got into a rhythm, it wasn't a difficult thing to knit up.

The cast on method for this ribbing is a new one to me. A German Twisted Cast On. I already know (and enjoy) Long Tail Cast On, and this was a variation of that style. I watched a video on You Tube and got it straight away. I skimmed over the written instructions for it which are included in the pattern, but there was no way they were going to make any sense!

I had a couple of false starts with the pattern section though. I actually ripped it back to the ribbing twice because my stitch count was off after doing a couple of rows. The pattern instructions are charted for the main body of the hat and, not really working from charts before, it threw me. I guess you just have to have more practice with them.

After frustratingly taking back all my stitches for the second time, I grabbed my pattern sheet and headed over to the computer to write it all out line by line. It took a bit of time, but it was well worth it. Once I started knitting again, it all fell into place.

It came together very quickly. The chunky wool ensured a speedy knit, and I am really happy with the fit. I am planning on making another one for Boo, without the pom pom, as she isn't a fan. 

This is a great pattern for using up one 100g ball of wool. I only have 15g left over (and I did make a pretty big pom pom!)

Sunday, 22 October 2017

An Autumn Raven

Size Made: 6
Fabric used: Grey melton for the outer layer and star print poplin for the inner layer

The colder winds are starting to whip up and the trees are shedding golden leaves all over the ground. My thoughts are now turning to knitting winter woolies and sewing snuggly warm jackets. 

I have a few scraps of this grey melton left over from other projects and while flicking through my patterns one rainy afternoon, I saw the Clever Charlotte Raven pattern. Always a favourite of mine for the pants. They are loose fitting and relaxed, with different pocket options to mix up the look. I have made the pants several times over the years, a couple of them here and here. (In the photos she is wearing some Oliver and S After School jeans, made up from Daddys old jeans, see original post here.

I realized I would have enough to make the hoodie in a size 6 so after auditioning some fabrics for the lining and finding this star print I set to work tracing and cutting out the pieces.

The jacket is reversible so all the seams are fully enclosed. Great because there are no tickly bits to irritate her (plus if it gets dirty on a day out, just turn it inside out and, ta-dah, she looks decent for the trip home!).

The construction for the jacket couldn't have been simpler, it is one of those things I am kicking myself at not making up when my eldest was still able to fit into the pattern ranges. I am not getting much opportunity to sew at the moment and this wasn't a big project. I managed to sew it up nicely in a spare afternoon.

So, just in time for the Autumn winds and kicking up leaves in the park, she has a lovely little jacket to keep her snug. It can be layered with a warm long sleeved sweatshirt and looks great with her jeans. Hopefully it will see some wear over the next few months.

I will leave you with an image of some of our pears from the tree we planted last year in the back garden. I didn't expect anything from it in its first year but we ended up with 6 beautiful pears, which the children have enjoyed checking up on. Good enough for a comfort food crumble with lashings of hot custard!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Back to School Sewing

How can it be that we are in the second week of September already? In my mind, it is still Summer and we should be planning days out and eating ice-cream. Instead I find that school is back and the familiar routines are taking precedent over fun, lazy days.

I hope you all had a great break from school and your little ones went skipping back into the playground as happily as mine did. They were excited to see their friends and teachers again. 

The last couple of weeks of August were filled with checklists and shopping trips for us. I managed to plan ahead so that I could sew some of the items. The weather wasn't great so the girls didn't mind stopping inside while I got stuck into my sewing patterns!

Instead of a regular pencil case, we decided to make something with a bit more capacity for pens, pencils, highlighters, crayons, felt tips, rubbers, rulers, glue stick, and all those other trinkets you collect during a term.

I used the Dopp Kit from the Portside Travel Set by Grainline Studio. It is essentially a wash bag, but the room inside makes it the ideal size. The zippered pocket on the outside will come in useful (I actually stuffed some hair bobbles in there for her) and the side handle means it is easy to pull out of her bag.

Red is her favourite colour and we settled on some cross-weave canvas as the main fabric. It is nice and sturdy and holds up well. I did interface the pieces as directed to give extra structure to the bag. 

The pattern is well written and I would certainly recomend it. I can see me making these as Christmas presents for my husband and father as I never know what to get them. My dad loves a good wash bag!

A last minute addition to the school sewing was an art apron. 

I once borrowed a book from the library containing a selection of aprons/bib patterns for adults and children. I traced a couple of them off and among them was this simple apron. Perfect for a quick sewing project and thank goodness I had a supply of bias binding to hand. I managed to make this without having to run to the shops for anything. The fabric is by Riley Blake and is a quilting cotton. I cut another piece out of plain white cotton and sandwiched the two together to make it thicker.
The next time I see it, it will be plastered in paint so for now here is a photo of it looking pristine!

My practice run with a school shirt pattern gave me the insight I needed to add some extra length to this blouse pattern. I ended up adding 1 1/4" to the body. It might not have been enough but I was mindful of keeping the nice curve and if she has to tuck it into her trousers, I didn't want a puddle of fabric around her bottom.

The blouse pattern is McCalls 6951 and I used white polycotton.

The skirt is a Simplicity pattern (4264) and is really simple to put together. There are basically two rectangles and the waist elastic is looped and secured into the foldline of the waist yoke before the bottom skirt is added.

As a surprise for this term, my eldest got to dress up for the first day back as a Hogwarts pupil. I believe they are reading Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone this year plus they have a trip to the HP museum coming up. (This may be why she was so eager to go back to school!)

She asked if I could make some robes for her as she wanted to dress up as Moaning Myrtle. "She's in Ravenclaw you know, so the robes have to be lined with blue" (my girl knows I like a sewing challenge...)

I did a bit of searching online and thanks to the magic of Pinterest I discovered a pattern for Hogwarts robes that somebody had self-drafted and loaded onto the Burda Style website. I only had line drawings to go off but the methods for measuring out the lines were well explained and I got there in the end. The only thing I struggled with were the angles of the sleeves. There was no guideline so I had to draw them in by eye. I did have to fudge them into the armsyce and I suspect my drafting wasn't perfect. But looking at it you would never know.

I wasn't the only one who contributed to this outfit. I would just like to add that my husband stood in the kitchen colouring in a chopstick with a black Sharpie marker so that the outfit would be complete! Good man!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Badminton Nightie

Pattern: Oliver and S Badminton Dress
Size Made: 7
Fabric: Oh so soft flannel

I haven't sewn much recently, a few things here and there but I wanted to get stuck into a new project. Far from losing my sewing mojo, I have actually used up most of my fabric stash. Really! So I feel quite limited at the moment. I want to make, but can't.

One or two large pieces remain and upon assessment of my rather small tub of various types of fabric, I pulled out this polkadot flannel. 

We don't seem to have had much of a summer this year. 
It has been rainy and about 18 degrees most of the time so a flannel nightgown didn't seem so ridiculous.
I have used this Badminton pattern as nightwear before and my eldest loved it. I made the whole set in one go, top, dress, shorts and skort! (see here)

Now this girl is all about the ruffles. The more the merrier.
My eldest made me leave them off last time, but heck no, they were excitedly requested by this little girl!

As far as the size is concerned, I could have made her a six. 
It would have fit her fine, but then it wouldn't have fit her come Christmas time. So size 7 it was.

We are both so happy with this. 
I got to use up some more fabric (which obviously needs replacing at some point) and she got a brand new, not handed down, nightie.