Thursday, March 10, 2011

ice cream dresses with a special guest

 My kitten's spring wardrobe is coming together nicely. But I'm sewing ahead, and since my baby doesn't sit up or fill out these dresses yet, I asked a friend if I could borrow her darling 6 month old. Not only did she think it sounded fun, but she even took the photos for me! I'm quite pleased to present these professional photos of my work.

Have you ever seen a more scrumptious little chin? Oh, right, this is supposed to be about the dress! This is an Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, which I made somewhere between tunic and dress length to allow a soon to be crawling baby plenty of movement. The fabric is from the Modern Affair collection by Art Gallery fabrics. Quilting cottons are not my favorite for garments because they're often quite stiff and require much pressing to look nice. However, Art Gallery Fabrics cotton is quite fine, which I find quite nice for baby clothes. I scored this at my local sewing shop, who carry a good selection by Art Gallery.

 Though I have kept these play dresses simple, there is room in this pattern for embellishment. The pattern includes a notch in the collar and pockets as well as contrast tiers. (You would end up with a dress that looks like Neapolitan ice cream, get it?)  You might add piping or rickrack tucked under the yoke or some ribbon at the hem. In a solid color, this dress would make a nice canvas for embroidery or applique.  For now, I opted for a monogram at the center front.  My new sewing machine can do all kinds of lovely decorative stitches and I'm completely hooked on this simple detail.

 I love this shot. The tops of my children's heads have always been dear to me. Perhaps I still remember the distinct feel of a baby head inside my belly. You probably recognize the City Weekend print in this version. This is another quilting cotton that has an exceptionally soft hand.  It even has a little drape to it. And it's so perfect for baby clothes that I wish I had bought more before it sold out.
The single button closure at the top allows easy dressing of an active baby. The construction of this dress is so simple and the end result so lovely, it's easy to understand why this pattern has become a favorite among Oliver + S fans. I've made this a few times now, with and without pockets, bands or notches and I am always pleased with the result.

In its most basic incarnation, there are really just two pieces, a yoke and a skirt. This means little tracing and cutting. There are no sleeves to set or fancy plackets, so the whole thing comes together quickly. I think this is perfect for play clothes.  The assembly may not seem intuitive if you come to this from more traditional garment sewing, but I promise that if you trust the instructions, it will work out. The genius of the construction is that the yoke and yoke facing sandwich the skirt pieces and form the sleeves at the same time. With French seams at the sides, everything is neatly finished, inside and out. Once you've done one, you'll come back to this again and again -- lawn and voile and seersucker right now will turn into baby cord or flannel or denim come fall.

I made a 6-12 month dress and two bibs in less than a yard of fabric. I made some bloomers from a contrast fabric, so the total cost was just $15 for each complete outfit. There are plenty of scraps for another project. Even as she gets larger, I believe sewing will continue to be economical, something that's important to many these days. Realistically, I'm saving some money on the endless need for children's clothes and that lets me enjoy my hobby guilt-free.

My obliging model found it comfortable as well. She did lots of rolling around in the dress with no trouble at all and the fabric still looked nice slightly rumpled. She really steals the show, doesn't she? Such personality and such big beautiful eyes! She'll have her own custom Ice Cream Dress very soon.

Many thanks to the lovely Miss V and the talented Amanda Hall Studios for showcasing my stitching while I work on improving my photography basics. I have another collaboration in the works and I can't wait to show it to you!


  1. The dresses and photos are gorgeous! I am in love with that Art Gallery fabric.

  2. Very pretty tunics, and I adore the chin. My mom calls that part 'the cream puff' and it is delicious!

  3. They're darling, as is the model! The flower button is perfect for that dress.