This little sundress for N was the first garment I finished during the recent Summer 2014 Kids Clothes Week, and it was a huge hit!
This is a modified version of the Oliver + S free pattern, the Popover Sundress sewn up in Triflora Perfume voile from Anna Maria Horner’s Loulouthi line. This light, floaty voile was absolutely perfect for this dress!
I had made N a Popover Sundress previously using some ballerina print quilting cotton that she loved. That dress turned out well and she actually wears it quite a bit, but it needed some modifications.
First and foremost, the ballerina dress showed me that as drafted, the Popover Sundress yoke runs a little big. I sewed up a size 3T for my very average-sized 3-year-old, and the yoke is so wide that the straps are constantly slipping off her shoulders. She and I both find that very annoying.
Luckily, that was an easy fix! For this version, I narrowed the yoke piece by about 1-1.5 inches total, bringing each strap in 1/2 to 3/4″ on her shoulder. That immediately fixed the slippage problem, and the whole dress just looks like it fits better.
I also made some modifications to the style of the dress. As drafted, the Popover Sundress is a basic A-line dress that extends straight down from the yoke piece. It’s a well-drafted pattern and a nice shape, but not N’s preferred shape.
N is a flouncy, frilly little girl who loves big flouffy skirts and tutus. While she likes her ballerina dress, I knew she would prefer something with more volume. So, when I cut the dress pieces, I moved each piece about 3″ out from the fold, adding approximately 6″ to both the front and back dress pieces. Then I simply gathered those pieces to fit the yoke. It worked perfectly! Other than that, I made no modifications to the pattern (well, other than French seaming the side seams — it’s all pretty inside).
For added detail, I used some brown piping from my stash on the front yoke piece. This pattern is perfect for adding a little something-something at the bottom of the yoke, and I really like how this differentiates between the front and back of the dress. Technically either side could be the front, but my kids always like to know which is the front when they get dressed, so this (plus the tag I added), will give N some peace of mind.
The Popover dress is a really quick sew, even with the added step of gathering. I will definitely be making more! I love the way this dress looks with the added volume from the gathers, so I fully plan to make that modification next time as well. If anyone else plans to make this modification, I would advise using a lightweight or drapey fabric like voile, lawn or gauze for it. The gathered just look so much nicer than they would in a heavier fabric like quilting cotton. I know some of the new quilting cottons are lighter and drapier though, so those might work.
WIth this dress, I also started taking a new approach to fabric choices for N’s clothes. In the recent past, I had let her choose out her fabrics, and she inevitably chose Disney princess or Tinkerbell or Dora fabric. I grudgingly sewed them up, comforted at least in the knowledge that she would love the fabric. But I found that after the initial, “OOOH, my princess dress is SO COOL!” reaction wore off, she doesn’t often reach for those dresses. Instead, she reaches for the RTW dresses in her closet in more subdued patterns but the colors she likes.
So I think I’m going to move away from sewing for her in the fabrics that she says she wants, and instead make things in more grown-up fabrics and prints in the colors and styles that I know she is drawn to. One of my frustrations in sewing for my kids is that the handmade items are often passed over for the RTW garments in their closets. Fingers crossed that this approach will help address that!
Pattern: Popover Sundress by Oliver + S
Size: 3T, modified
Fit: The 3T as drafted was much too wide for N, which meant the straps constantly slip off her shoulders. For this dress, I narrowed the yoke by 1-1.5 inches, which resulted in a perfect fit.
Fabric: Triflora Perfume voile from Anna Maria Horner’s Loulouthi line.
Modifications: Narrowed the yoke piece as described above. Added about 6 inches of width to both the front and back dress pieces and gathered to fit the yoke. French seams on the side seams, and added piping to the front yoke.
Pattern Format: PDF, but it’s free, and there aren’t very many pieces.
- Easy to modify to add additional details like piping, pompoms, rick rack, etc.
- Nice way to feature a small amount of prized fabric in the yoke.
- Quick sew.
- I think the yoke piece runs big. Before investing the time to sew a whole dress, or cutting into precious fabric, make sure to measure your child and fit the yoke piece.
- I prefer a gathered dress with more volume for very small girls. But this was easy to fix!
Overall Grade: A. Simple, classic and easily modifiable. And free — can’t beat that!