Tag Archives: oliver+s

Winter into spring linen dress

mara dress linen - title imageMargot needed a new dress.  As a home sewist with a little girl, this is not something that’s said very often; dresses are the most tempting item to sew and consequently Margot usually has plenty to choose from.  But, due to my lack of sewing (discussed in my last post) and the fact that my kids now wear school uniforms, the dresses are suddenly in short supply!

linen Mara dress // Behind the Hedgerow

Planning the dress

I knew exactly the kind of dress I wanted – something that could be worn now (with layers as it’s still quite cold here), but was equally suitable for hot summer days.

I knew exactly the overall feel I wanted – dusty pink, muted Liberty fabric…a nod to springtime without turning Margot into a pastel easter egg!

All I had to do now was figure out how to sew what was in my head!

linen Mara dress // Behind the Hedgerow

One of my goals for 2015 is to be more deliberate and thoughtful about the clothes I make in order to achieve my own vision for a garment – rather than just following a pattern, unthinking.  To help me with this I’ve started to be more disciplined about using two tools:

  • An online mood board.  By putting all my inspiration into one collage-like view I was able to get a clearer idea of what I wanted for the dress.
  • [Question: This mood board was thrown together quickly in Photoshop – does anyone know of a good mood board app?  Pinterest is the obvious one but I want something that allows you present it all collage-style.]

  • A fashionary sketchbook.  This is a great place to write down all the planning stages of a garment.  The book has very faint outlines of people on the pages so you can sketch the clothes – or feel free to just write over them if necessary.  The first few pages are an excellent reference tool for everything from pattern and garment shapes, to body measurements and sizes, to typography, to online colour generators!

And, although not quite as detailed (or outlandish!!) as the drawings above, I used my book to map out what I wanted for this project.

linen Mara dress notes // Behind the Hedgerow

Making the dress


Now, with all this inspiration floating around it was time to actually make the dress.  Not wanting to buy any new books or patterns, I limited myself to what I had on hand.

linen Mara dress // Behind the HedgerowThe top part of the dress is a sleeveless version of the Mara blouse by Compagnie M.  I wanted the yoke to be more of a square shape (similar to the Tova top) but, due to time limitations, I decided to leave it as it was.

linen Mara dress // Behind the Hedgerow

The skirt shape and length, as well as the pockets are from the Oliver+s Jump Rope Dress (view B).

The main fabric is a gorgeous shade of dusty pink that my husband bought for me from Purl Soho when he was in NYC in 2012!  If you ever want to know if your husband/partner truly loves you then send him/her to NYC (while on a business trip if you want to add even more pressure!) with a list of fabric shops and tell him to “just pick out some things I’d like”!  He chose really well!!

linen Mara dress // Behind the Hedgerow

The pockets and piping are Liberty print – from my stash.

mara dress linen - pocket detail 2

Once all these details were decided upon, the actual sewing was quite straightforward.  As I’ve made both patterns before I was comfortable with all the processes and it came together pretty quickly!  The only time-consuming part was making the bias binding as well as the piping.


So, we’re almost into April and Margot has one new dress.  It’s a start but I need to get a move on before the really warm weather comes!

What is your planning/sewing process for a new project?  What are your go-to patterns for customising?  And finally, what dress should I make next?  I feel I’m on a bit of a roll now!

Hope you’re all sewing up something lovely on this sunny spring day!

Thanks for reading,

Laura x

linen Mara dress // Behind the Hedgerow

It’s Spring – time to get outside! {A Mailbox Surprise creation}

Bias-trimmed gardening apron // Behind the HedgerowToday I’m guest posting at Compagnie M. as part of the Mailbox Surprise Series.  This series has seen fabric parcels being sent to talented sewing bloggers all over the world to be used to make wonderful creations for the little people in our lives.

I sent Ana Sofia (S is for Sewing) this parcel back in December…

…which she then turned into this:

Pretty fun, right?  (And pretty cute – well, just plain pretty!).  Today it’s my turn to share the creation I made using fabric sent to me by Suz (Sewpony).

Bias-trimmed gardening apron // Behind the Hedgerow

I’ve enjoyed this whole project because:

  • The sun is out!!!!!  Can you see the light shining on the apron at the top!!  I haven’t seen the sun in months!
  • The photo shoot did NOT take place in front of my white brick wall!!  Shock, I know!  So, where did we venture?  Click over to Compagnie M. to find out!
  • The photo shoot required exactly ZERO bribes and no tears were shed.

You can read all the details and see many more photos over at Compagnie M.  I think every girl deserves an apron to get mucky in!

Bias-trimmed gardening apron // Behind the HedgerowThanks for reading!  I have something BIG to share on Monday so please stop by!

Laura x

Oliver+s Forest Path Cape – KCW Winter 2014 – Day Five

Oliver+s cape // Behind the Hedgerow

Day five?!  Where did day four go??  This week of Kid’s Clothes Week, winter 2014 is speeding along like no other.  I write to you this evening from a very cosy B&B in the heart of the Kent countryside.  I’m with a very snuggly 6-year-old on a quest to find our perfect home.  Today’s viewing of a 15th century Grade I listed farmhouse wasn’t bad!

Amongst the last-minute upheaval, sewing still seems to be getting done!  Today’s project is Oliver+s’s Forest Path Cape.  Wow folks – this one is a WINNER!

Oliver+s cape // Behind the Hedgerow

What did you make?

Oliver+s cape // Behind the Hedgerow

The Oliver+s Forest Path Cape is a digital pattern for downloading and printing at home.  I usually despise this process but this one has minimal pieces and, since it’s for a kid, it’s not too large.  The pattern is rated ‘one scissor’ by Oliver+s and , let me tell you, I can’t remember the last time I had such an easy pattern make such a big impact.

Size and fabric?

I made a size 6 which is perfect.

The fabric is one of the best parts of this make.  The outside is the softest, most touchable wool/polyester mix from Minerva Crafts.  This fabric would make a fantastic winter coat and, with the chevrons, the whole look is interesting yet remains neutral.  Next year I’d like to push myself and try to make this coat or this one.

Although the pattern recommends a lovely, soft, slippery lining fabric, I went for a fuzzy neutral flannel for added warmth.  This undoubtedly makes the whole sewing process easier as well since both fabrics were happy to stay put while sewing.

Oliver+s cape // Behind the Hedgerow

Did you enjoy making it?

This project really is a breeze!  If you’re new to sewing and just figuring it all out then please start your sewing adventure here!  This pattern will not disappoint!  Plus, I feel that by sewing outerwear you get more bang for your buck – it’s on show more and therefore there are more opportunities for everyone to see and admire your awesome sewing skillz.

Oliver+s cape // Behind the Hedgerow

Favourite part of finished garment?

The overall shape of the cape is perfect – easy to throw on but with enough shaping that I think of it more as a cardigan than a cape.  Also, you can take this pattern in so many directions with your choice of fabric and buttons (I had to restrain myself to keep it neutral).

Oliver+s cape // Behind the Hedgerow

The part that made you swear the most?

No swearing took place – just some general frustration with my machine and buttonholes.  When I sew buttonholes with different threads on top and bottom they always end up looking like this – with the dark coloured thread showing through to the light side.

Oliver+s cape // Behind the Hedgerow

I’m wondering if this just a fact of sewing buttonholes or a quirk of my particular machine.  Thoughts??

Oliver+s cape // Behind the Hedgerow

Music you were listening to?

Have you guys heard of Cats on Trees – a French musical duo from Toulouse??  I’m loving their song Sirens Call.

Sum them up in 10 words or less?

Easy to sew, easy to wear (just a bit of a pain when layering under a coat).  Sorry – more than 10 words…

Oliver+s cape // Behind the Hedgerow

Would you make them again?  What would you do differently?

I will surely be making this pattern again.  The best part about it is that there’s an adult version of the pattern available as well!  And, guess what?  I have enough of the same fabric to make one for myself.  Matching mother and daughter here we come!

Happy Friday and, of course, happy sewing!

Thanks for reading.

Laura x

Oliver+s cape // Behind the Hedgerow

Jacob in the sandbox

Sandbox Trousers and flocking tee - title image

The final hours of Kids Clothes Week are upon us and I’m dragging myself across the finish line at the last possible moment.

Sandbox Trousers and flocking tee - back waist down

Here is my final contribution:

Trousers: A hybrid of Oliver+s’s Sandbox Pants and Zonen09’s Jacob trousers.

Top: Made by Rae’s Flashback Skinny Tee with space rocket flocking.


Sandbox trousers and flocking tee - trousers on wall

My plan was to simply make the Oliver+s Sandbox Pants.  However, when I looked at the pattern pieces I knew they would be huge on Manu and because I know and love the shape of the Jacob trousers (see here and here) I decided to use the Jacob pattern pieces for the legs but stick with the waistband, pockets and instructions from the Sandbox Pants.

This worked perfectly!  I got the pleasure of following a new Oliver+s pattern (each one seems to teach me something that improves my overall sewing knowledge) while all the while knowing that I would love the fit.  Win – win!

Sandbox Trousers and flocking tee - back view

The fabric is fantastic!  It’s a thin wale corduroy that I got in Denmark over two years ago and have been hoarding ever since.  It’s covered in very subtle tiny stars (so subtle that they’re hard to see in some of this pictures!) and I only wish I’d bought more – it would make a fantastic dress with a few splashes of colour here and there.

Sandbox Trousers and flocking tee - front pocket detail

The contrast/lining fabric was leftover from my Tova dress – it’s soft and works well for a comfy waistband.

Apart from the re-jig of the pattern, the only other change I made was sewing the back pockets on backwards (the grey is meant to be the lining) but I liked it better this way.

Sandbox Trousers and flocking tee - rear pockets

The construction was quick and straightforward – no fly, zip or even faux fly to worry about.  There are four buttonholes to contend with in case that is an issue for anyone – but you could easily leave them off the back pockets and use grommets for the waistband openings if you prefer.

Overall, another great Oliver+s pattern (aren’t they all?!).  Next time I’d like to try them in some soft, comfy jersey.

Sandbox Trousers and flocking tee - whole outfit on wall

The Top

I never intended to make a whole coordinated outfit – the trousers were the priority – but I had this bright yellow jersey staring up at me from my fabric shelf and I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try out some more flocking.

Sandbox trousers and flocking tee - leaning against wall

The whole thing took about an hour and a half earlier today (I’d say that’s a good use of the extra hour we gained by changing our clocks back).  It’s really not a piece of art though – I rushed through all the steps and, most annoyingly, the jersey, as it turns out, is horrible quality and the whole thing got massively stretched out around the arm cuffs and neckline.  I almost didn’t photograph it…but I did quite like how the rocket turned out.

I’ve talked enough about the Flashback Skinny Tee for you all to know it’s probably THE most useful stand-by pattern.  It’s just a shame about that damn fabric.

For the space rocket I just googled some images of rockets, printed, cut, traced onto the flocking, cut and ironed on.  I’m still finding my feet with this technique – it’s really hard to cut the image out perfectly (even with an xacto knife).  It’s fun and so effective though!  If you haven’t come across flocking then you can read more about it here.

Sandbox trousers and flocking tee - rocket detail

When put together I love this whole outfit.  Stylish and comfy – who needs anything more?  Ok, maybe I could have added piping….

How did your KCW turn out?  Get everything done?  I’ll tell you what – now I’m looking forward to some serious selfish sewing before delving into Christmas gifts.  I’ve got pattern pieces cut for a coat, yup a coat (eek!)….a wool coat…with a lining…this is unchartered territory for me so any help and suggestions are welcome!

Sandbox Trousers and flocking tee - walking away

Thanks for reading,

Laura x

Kids Clothes Week – planning ahead…and a fabric DISCOUNT…and a photography disaster

broken camera lens 1

Hello lovely readers.  Today I was going to share with you my new Sewaholic Renfrew Top with a simple yoked a-line skirt.  However, the sewing gods are really not on my side this week – horrible fit, temperamental machine, sewing things inside out, too much rain (therefore no chance for photos).  And, do you wanna know the worst part of all?!  While photographing these luxury baby blankets for my tutorial,  I BROKE my Canon Macro lens!!  And, wait, it gets worse, it wasn’t even mine!  I had borrowed it from my brother.  Words cannot describe my feeling of horror upon seeing it crash to the floor!  For those of you who use one of these babies I’m sure you will understand my pain.
broken camera lens 2

All of this has meant I’ve spent a fair amount of time stamping my feet in frustration this week so, what’s a girl to do? – retreat back to my comfort zone of course!


Oh, I’m much calmer just writing those words!  Kids Clothes Week is just around the corner (October 21-27 to be exact) and I thought I’d share some of my planning.  I’ve decided to try to make one outfit for each of my three kids.  I want to do this to participate in the online fun, of course, but mainly because they are in desperate need of some warmer clothes.  I keep thinking I’ll just buy them a few things but, the more I sew, the more reluctant I become to buy ready-to-wear!  Almost everything I look at now I think ‘I could make that’ and I just can’t bring myself to buy it.  It’s getting ridiculous and I’m actually annoying myself now but I just can’t do it!  Does anyone else feel like this?

And, once I share with you my plans, if you feel like you want to get stitching something for your little ones, I’ve got some info and a discount code to share.


utility belt in action 1George is a tall and ultra-skinny 8.75 year old who loves getting dirty and playing rough.  All boy!  I can never find trousers that fit properly and he’s lovely about wearing ‘home made’ clothes.

To Make


Belgian-inspired outfit - full view, wearing

Margot is my 5.75 year old who somehow walks the line between being ‘all girl’ (think babies, pink, barbies, etc) and rolling around wrestling and farting with the boys.  With two brothers I guess I should’t be surprised.  She (unsurpisingly) has the most handmade clothes in her wardrobe but there’s always room for more, right?

To Make

  • Oliver + s cape.  I know where I stand with Oliver + s and I feel confident that I can get these projects done and dusted to a reasonable standard.  After my downer of a week I’m looking for that little high that comes with a successfully completed garment.   This cape looks perfect for transitioning from Autumn to Winter.
  • Oliver + s Book Report Dress.  I’ve had this pattern in my stash for a while now. I’m still undecided on which fabric to use.  I’m kinda in the mood for some colour blocking and I love the tones here.

Fabric bundle from Backstitch. Click on photo to go to site.

  • I also want to make a few t-shirts for Margot.  As much as I love the Rae’s Flashback Skinny Tee, I would like something a tiny bit more feminine.  Anyone have any suggestions??

Emmanuel (Manu)

Jacob Trousers - full view, flying

Manu is our family comedian.  A 4 year old ball of unbridled energy and demands.  He’s as sweet as can be on his own, but, within in the context of the family, he wants to make sure that, as a third, he’s not overlooked.  Believe me – he’s impossible to ignore!

To Make

  • Oliver + s Sandbox Pants.  Another pattern in my stash that I haven’t managed to use yet.  I adore Manu’s Jacob trousers (above) but thought I’d give these a go.  I have some lovely black corduroy with tiny stars that I’ve been saving for way too long.  (Bought it in Denmark in 2010).
  • Zonen 09 Charlie Top.  I have some cute whale jersey (or questionable quality) which I might use for this but maybe I’ll splash out on something nicer.  This top is great – it’s as comfy as t-shirt but a little warmer (it’s double layered) and way more stylish.  It’s from the Belgian Zonen 09 pattern company – the same people behind the Jacob Trousers.

Backstitch Discount

Finally, I’d like to share with you a sneak peek of newly updated online fabric shop, Backstitch.

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 18.15.16It’s a great place to tempt you, not only with hand selected fabrics from the hottest designers, but also with lots of indie patterns.   AAAAAND…you can get an extra 10% off between now and midnight (GMT) on Sunday 13th October by entering the code WLBTH.

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 18.24.20

If that’s not enough, every purchase during the month of October is entered into a competition with great prizes:

1st Prize: £50 off first order and 20% off all subsequent orders for a whole year

2nd Prize: £25 off first order and 15% off all subsequent orders for six months

3rd prize: £10 off first order and 15% off all subsequent orders for three months

You can enter as many times as you like into the draw. One entry for each order placed via a customer account (as opposed to via guest checkout) within the month of October. Once the competition closes, at Midnight GMT on Sunday 31 October 2013, we will pick one entry for each prize at random from all valid entries.

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 18.32.03

I hope you all have a great weekend – I’m going to enjoy visiting with out-of-town friends and try to recover from the camera lens fiasco.  I’ll be back on Monday with a fresh state of mind and some more fun!  Anyone else, like me, starting to think of Christmas sewing?  Sad and obsessive or totally normal?!

I leave you now with a photo that is TOTALLY out of character for my kids!!  This was taken at my brother’s wedding this summer (you may remember my fairy tale dress for Margot).  I also made the outfits for the boys (self-drafted trousers with piping and the Easy Linen Shirt from Sewing for Boys) but never blogged about them.  And I can’t blog about them now seeing as the white tops are trashed!  C’est la vie!


Thanks for reading,

Laura x

Pattern mixing and remixing – Project Run and Play, Week 1

Popover dress remix - waist down

I nearly didn’t participate in this season of PR&P.  I need my sewing to be useful and functional – who (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) needs a breezy new sundress in Mid-September?  But, as the pattern rolled around in my head certain elements started jumping out at me to make the dress more Autumn-focussed:



and, not-so-logically, ombre!

So, here I present to you my


Popover dress remix - wearing, black background

Are you guys familiar with PR&P?  In brief, it’s an online version of Project Runway exclusively for kids’ clothes.  This is series 7 and will take place over four weeks.  Each week the contestants get a new sewing challenge:

  • Week 1 – Pattern Remix (Oliver + s Popover Sundress)
  • Week 2 – Candy Inspired
  • Week 3 – Mad for Plaid
  • Week 4 – Signature Style

At the end of each challenge we, the public, get to vote for our favourite (voting for Week 1 has already started) and the lowest ranking has to ‘go home’ 🙁 .

Popover dress remix - playing

As a sewist who wants to get more involved in pattern design, and as someone who needs deadlines to encourage productivity, I thought this would be a fun challenge.  Also, I am fascinated by the creative process and observing each person’s journey of turning this pattern into their own unique vision.  The remix challenge this week is to take the Oliver+s Popover Sundress pattern (which is free and downloadable here) as a starting point and to turn it into your own creation.

My design elements

With the Popover Sundress as my starting point, I knew I wanted sleeves and a slightly more fitted bodice.  I kept things in the family, so to speak, and turned to the Oliver+s Fairy Tale Dress (which I’ve already made twice before – here and here if you’re interested).

Put simply, in very non-technical drafting terms, I sort of blended the Fairy Tale Dress bodice with the Popover Dress skirt.  From there I chopped up the pattern pieces into ever-widening sections (remembering to add on seam allowances) to create the ombre colour effect.

I used the Fairy Tale Dress tulip sleeves.  I didn’t add a contrast fabric to the interior – I thought it would make it too bulky to gather around the cap.  Instead I just hemmed them.

Popover dress remix - sleeve detail 2

I added an invisible zip to the back.  I was hoping to avoid this but couldn’t.  Not my best zipper insertion but hey-ho.

Popover dress remix - zipper detail

I finished the neckline with bias binding – a presumably easy option but I did manage to get myself into a muddle when trying to conceal all the raw edges at the back opening.

Popover dress remix - neckline detail

I added a pocket.  The shape was based on Oliver+s Jump Rope Dress (view B) although I decided not to gather it at the top.

Popover dress - pocket detail

There’s quite a wide hem.  In hindsight I should have hand-sewn it for a cleaner finish.  The red along the bottom edge was a last minute addition.

Popover sundress remix - hem detail

Thoughts and comments on the process

There are two main points I want to make here.  (I know I’m going on a bit but bear with me!  I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this!).

Popover dress remix - dress with cardigan

Designing clothes is A LOT of work…

When I write down my design elements, the process seems so neat and simple.  Let me tell you – it wasn’t!

I’ll be the first to admit that, to look at, this dress is simple.  If I were following a pattern to make it, it would be extremely straightforward (apart from the zipper insertion, perhaps), but the process of figuring out the design (which largely isn’t even my design) was a time-consuming challenge of balancing how I wanted it to look vs what would actually work/what I was able to do.

I take my hat well and truly off to all the contestants of PR&P – and to all of you who design patterns from scratch.  Sometimes I hear complaints about how expensive independent patterns are but, for me, they are worth every penny.  Even to design a potato sack would be more work than it looks on the surface – not to mention a dress, blouse, jacket or trousers.  I’m officially in awe of all pattern designers!

Popover dress remix - dress on black

…but I LOVE the entire process.

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a nerd and while figuring out how all the technical elements of the dress would work, I was reminded of complex math(s) equations (the ones that take pages to work out) and that feeling of achievement when getting it right (all the while knowing that one miniscule mistake along the way would have ruined the whole thing).

What?!?!  You don’t get that feeling when designing patterns?!  Hmmm…

Then, on the flip side, there are the creative elements of the design – how I want the design to look.  As I learn more about sewing I have more proverbial tools in my sewing box to call upon.  This makes the process more fun but also forces me to be selective so as not to over-do it.

By drafting my own pattern I really am starting with a blank canvas.  I suppose the same can be said for a purchased pattern but I find that it’s too easy to be (overly?!) influenced by the pattern envelope or images I find online.

Popover dress remix - sleeve detail

For this design some of my considerations were:

  • How wide should each colour block be?  [graded from skinny to wide.]
  • Should I make a boat-neck and hope that it fits over her head without any closures?[wouldn’t work – had to go for a zip.]
  • Should I add a collar?  [decided to keep neckline simple to make the ombre effect the stand-out feature.]
  • Should the neckline bias binding blend in or be in contrast? [I thought red would be too much here.]
  • Should the pocket totally blend in or be in contrast? [I actually made and sewed on a pocket to blend in but didn’t like it – from a distance you didn’t notice the pocket – just the red line across the dress.]

There were many more questions running through my head but you get the idea.

And, you wanna know the thing I love BEST about this whole process?  The thing that makes me giddy with excitement??  It’s bringing these two elements together in one creation – that beautiful moment of figuring out the technical details to make your creative vision become a reality.  It’s like a graceful, intricate tango between the left and right sides of the brain* to achieve a common goal.  It feels so complete and utterly fulfilling.

Popover dress remix - full dress with doll

Wow – I really didn’t realise how much I had to say about this project.  I love blogging!  Had I not sat down to write this I never would have given the process such thought (much less put it into words).

So, do you guys design your own patterns?  How does the process work for you?  Are you participating in PR&P?  I won’t be joining in for Week 2 – I’m afraid ‘Candy Inspiration’ doesn’t fill me with inspiration – but I might try to join in with ‘Signature Style.’  In the meantime I’ll be getting ready for Selfish Sewing Week (and I’m even lined up to do a guest post over at Imagine Gnats for it).

I thought you might like to see what my ‘photo shoots’ (ha!) look like it real life!

Popover dress remix - outtake

Thanks for bearing with me – a long one today!

Laura x

*While listening to a TED lecture today I heard that the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that connects the left and right sides, is thicker and stronger in females.  Just an interesting side note.