Boy sewing, Pattern Review

Pattern Review: Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt

And here I am with another Oliver + S pattern review! This time for my boys. Now, Oliver + S has a nice line up of little girl dresses, but their boy offerings are pretty weak. The Sketchbook Shirt and Shorts are one of the only Oliver + S boys patterns that has ever tempted me. I decided to give it a shot last month when I wanted to make J and Baby J some button-up shirts for Baby J’s 9-month photos.

I searched around quite a bit for a good little boy button-up shirt and finally settled on the Sketchbook shirt since (1) it looked like the classic style I was going for, and (2) Oliver + S patterns are usually put together quite nicely.

Classic Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirts in chambray sewn by Katie @ Creative Counselor
My boys in their coordinating shirts. Photo by Red Bicycle Photography.

However, I ran into my primary Oliver + S gripe right in the ordering stage. J is long and I like to make size 5 for him (so he can wear it longer than a few weeks), but Baby J needed size 18 months. Oliver + S breaks their patterns at 4T. So to get J and Baby J’s actual sizes, I would have had to buy both size ranges of this pattern, and pay a steep $32 to do so. I was not about to pay that (in my opinion) outrageous price for a children’s pattern. Instead, I figured that because J is skinny, he probably could fit into the 4T size if I added some length. I rolled the nice and went for it.

Luckily, my gamble paid off. J is a skinny kid, and the fit of this shirt is a little on the loose side, so the 4T was fine. I won’t be able to use it for him again, but it served my immediate need.

Classic Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirts in chambray sewn by Katie @ Creative Counselor
J’s Sketchbook Shirt in 4T. Works for now. Photo by Red Bicycle Photography.

The pattern itself was fine. Nothing earth-shattering, but fine. It’s presented well and nicely drafted, as we’ve all come to expect from Oliver + S patterns.

If you’re thinking that I sound pretty lukewarm about this pattern, you’d be right.

You see, one of the reasons I was having trouble finding a pattern for these shirts is that I really wanted a pattern with a proper two-piece collar and collar-stand, rather than a single-piece camp-style collar. There may have been something out there at the time, but I certainly couldn’t find it. The Sketchbook Shirt, like all the other patterns I looked at, also had a single-piece camp-style collar, but I decided to go for it for the quality of Oliver + S drafting rather than an unknown.

The camp-style collar went together okay, but I’m not really happy with the result. These collars, in my opinion, are more fiddly to sew and tweak and don’t give nearly as nice a finish as a two-piece collar.

Classic Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirts in chambray sewn by Katie @ Creative Counselor
And Baby J. They don’t get much cuter. I’m not biased or anything… Photo by Red Bicycle Photography.

To be honest, I actually wouldn’t recommend this pattern. A few weeks after I made these shirts, Melissa of Blank Slate Patterns released her Bookworm Button-up as part of the latest Pattern Anthology collection. Not only does that pattern come in a broader size range and include several variations (at half the cost), but the collar is a proper two-piece collar and collar stand. If that pattern had been out at the time, I would have used it instead. **

The rest of the construction went fine. A short-sleeve button-up shirt is actually fairly straightforward. The collar is by far the trickiest part. I decided to use pearl snaps rather than buttons to make it easier for the boys to get on and off, and because I didn’t feel like fiddling around with buttons and buttonholes by then. I also knew that because of the way the single-piece collar ended up after I finished it, buttoning that top button would be a challenge (the single-piece collar was slightly too big for the neck opening, which makes it hard to overlap the button stand and button the top button without the collar sticking straight up. Not a great look).

Classic Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirts in chambray sewn by Katie @ Creative Counselor
Pearl snaps instead of buttons. I used a contrasting color for the top two snaps on each shirt. Photo by Red Bicycle Photography.

The fabric for both of these shirts came from the Imagine Gnats shop during a $5 Friday sale on Shwin & Shwin. It is Robert Kauffman chambray in indigo (for J’s shirt) and light blue (for Baby J). It’s nice and lightweight for summer and was easy to work with. It has pilled a little more than I expected after washing. I don’t know that I’d buy this particular chambray again. At least I wouldn’t want to pay more than I did for it.

In the end, I was happy with these shirts. They photographed well and coordinated nicely with N’s dress and the boys’ coloring. Can’t complain about that!

Classic Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirts in chambray sewn by Katie @ Creative Counselor
All three together! Photo by Red Bicycle Photography.

Pattern: Sketchbook Shirt by Oliver + S

Size: 18-24 mo (Baby J) and 4T (for J)

Fabric: Robert Kauffman chambray purchased from the Imagine Gnats shop.

Modifications: Added some length to J’s shirt to make the 4T work. Also substituted pearl snaps for buttons.

Fit: Good. J is a skinny 5-year-old, so the 4T fits him fine. It won’t fit him beyond this summer, which is a bummer, but at least his little brother can wear it. I made 18mo for 9-month-old Baby J and it fits him fine with some room to grow. He wears 18-24 month RTW clothes also so this fit seems right.

Pattern Format: This pattern is available in both PDF and paper. I have the paper pattern.


  • Well drafted pattern, as expected with Oliver + S.
  • Pretty timeless style for little boys. Could also be used for little girls..
  • The construction overall is pretty straightforward and the instructions are clear.


  • Price, as usual. Oliver + S is expensive.
  • Sizing, also as usual. Since Oliver + S breaks their pattern size ranges at 4T, I couldn’t buy this pattern in both of my boys’ sizes without paying $32. I wasn’t going to do that so I made the smaller size range work, but I won’t be able to use it again for J.
  • The pattern does not include a two-piece collar and collar stand, but instead uses a single-piece camp-style collar. I don’t think that type of collar sews up as nice and doesn’t give as polished a finished product. At the time, I couldn’t find a good alternative, but now I would skip this pattern in favor of the Bookworm Button-up.

Overall Grade: C. This pattern is ok, but just ok in my opinion. There’s nothing stellar here that can overcome my constant gripes about Oliver + S’ sizing and price point. In fact, if the latest Pattern Anthology collection had been released a few weeks earlier, I would have skipped this pattern altogether in favor of the Bookworm Button-up and its two-piece collar. I haven’t made up the Sketchbook shorts yet, but they’re just basic elastic-waist shorts and alone wouldn’t entice me to shell out $16 (or $32) for this pattern. The Clean Slate pants/shorts offer the same option and also come with the option and instructions for a zip fly for half the price. A much better investment, in my opinion.

** I received no compensation at all for this plug. I do own the Bookworm Button-up now, but I purchased it as part of the Pattern Anthology bundle. I just like this indie pattern company.

0 thoughts on “Pattern Review: Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt

    1. Thanks! I might have to check that out. It’s nice that the pattern goes up to size 14. I imagine by that age, my boys won’t be so excited about me sewing clothes for them, but a button-up shirt seems like a good candidate for kids that age.

  1. I’m totally with you about the collar. Great pattern otherwise. Comes together nicely. But yes, that collar sits flat and just isn’t very…crisp. If that makes sense. And for the price, give me a collar stand, please 🙂 I wonder if there’s a tutorial on how to draft one for this pattern…

    1. No kidding! If I’m paying $16 for a kid pattern that only goes up to size 4, I want a collar stand, darn it. I don’t know of a tutorial to create one for this pattern, but it wouldn’t be too hard to alter the collar piece. Hmmm…

  2. I agree with you about the pricing and sizing of Oliver + S patterns! My daughter is in a 3-4T, and as much as I love their designs, paying $16 for a pattern she will outgrow in 6 months is something I’d rather not do. I’d rather save the expensive patterns for myself! I’ve recently started following your blog and really enjoy your pattern reviews. I live in KC also, so it’s nice to at least virtually connect with others in the area who have similar interests!

    Hanni @

    1. Great to see another KC resident on here! If there are others in the area, it would be fun to have a meetup sometime.

      Totally agree with you about the patterns! When I spend $16 on a pattern, I prefer it to be for me 🙂

      BTW, I loved your shibori dress — gorgeous!

      1. I would love to find a sewing meet-up group that is something besides quilting– maybe we need to get one started! And I can’t take credit for the shibori dress, that was my blogging partner that created that one– but I’ll tell her you said so!

  3. Yes! I’m glad I’m not the only one who has this gripe about Oliver + S patterns! It annoys me that they cost more and have a shorter size range than any other children’s pattern company. I love their designs, but now that my older daughter is wearing a 5T and my youngest is 2, I just can’t justify spending 30 bucks on a kid pattern!

    1. I’m so glad to know I’m not alone! I always feel like I’m the only one who’s not all sunshine and roses about Oliver + S patterns, but with SO MANY good indie patterns out there these days it’s getting harder and harder for me to justify the price. Recently they had their 50% off sale, and I still couldn’t justify buying even a single one.

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