Monday Outfit: Oliver + S Garden Party Dress


Good morning! Since this new spring pattern from Oliver + S is called “Garden Party Dress“, it seemed necessary to find some kind of floral fabric. I’m trying to challenge myself more these days, so I ventured into my bin labeled “silk and silk-like stuff”. As soon as I saw these bright orange poppies, it was a done deal.


Back in the days before I was trying to bust my impossible stash and when I used to buy fabric (a trickle of nostalgic tears here), I would take K with me to one particular fabric store. It’s a small shop nestled in our former neighborhood, and there is a big table smack dab in the center of the store with all the catalogs splayed out. K and I had a routine: she would plunk herself down at the table and start paging through the catalogs, looking for kids’ costumes. I would then run around the store to snatch at whatever fabrics caught my eye — I usually had approximately 10 minutes before K would start an epic meltdown.


But one day, I decided to let K choose fabric. “Whatever you want, honey,” I said magnanimously, and then proceeded to say no to the leopard fur, the shiny (and outrageously expensive) silks, and the garish cartoon-ish prints she inevitably gravitated toward. Finally, at the sale corner, she spotted the poppies and the $5/yard price was acceptable.



This is actually lining fabric and some kind of cheap-o polyester. As such, it’s sort of plastic-y and sheer, but it looks a lot like silk if you don’t stare at it too long. Using the front bodice from the Garden Party Dress as a base, I quickly assembled a slip because I couldn’t be bothered to attach a lining to the dress. I figured that since I make so many sheer dresses for her, she ought to have something to wear underneath.


I’m starting to sound like a broken record with how excellent the instructions are, etc., but what was interesting about this dress is that I’ve made one that is extremely similar from a Japanese pattern book before here. Oh, that jacket – I love it so. Anyway, the dress was not a success, and I remember having a bear of a time understanding the instructions and couldn’t get the gathers quite right. K rejected is as itchy and I was very sad to have wasted that beautiful pink linen.


This time, the fit is fantastic and K was eager to try on the dress. Huzzah. She even chose the button for the back, and I approve of her choice wholeheartedly. This here is a size 7, and I used far less than the 2 1/4 yards of fabric required. So effectively, this dress cost less than $10 if you don’t count labor. We won’t think about the labor, though making it hardly felt like work. And maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s boutique-worthy and looks pretty expensive. K wore the dress to a birthday party that was held at one of those ceramic painting places in the local mall – as we walked through the fancy, enormous mall, I was surprised by how many people stopped to compliment K on the dress.


Another awesome pattern from Oliver + S! So fun to sew up and this one came together even faster than the hide-and-seek dress since I didn’t attempt any piecing together. I’m so grateful whenever I get the chance to try out these amazing patterns. Left to my own devices, I wouldn’t branch out from my Japanese sewing books, and how sad would it be to miss out on all these fabulous indie patterns? Thank you, Liesl!

Side note: K is reading Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events right now and is completely immersed. She refused to put down the book, but obediently followed my instructions to turn, give me a side profile, sit, etc. The girl is a professional.

32 thoughts on “Monday Outfit: Oliver + S Garden Party Dress

    1. Thanks, Erin! Those gorgeous but gnarly locks? They got chopped!! SO happy to say goodbye to rat’s nest 🙂

    1. High praise, Fiona, thank you! That reminds me, I should add this dress to the Oliver + S flickr pool…

  1. What a beautiful dress. love the poppies. the big poppies. reminds me of Marimekko fabric from Findland.

    1. I love it when kids are enraptured with books too! I was such a bookworm growing up, it makes me happy to see the trait passed along. Thank you, Elizabeth!

    1. Poppies make me think of California, where I’m from, so this fabric was especially nostalgic for me 🙂 I agree – a great spring dress and it’s always nice when the recipient loves it too! Thank you, Maria!

  2. This dress is so pretty!! The orange poppies are just so happy. What a perfect spring dress. And I must say thank you to K for the reading material idea. I have been reading chapter books aloud to my first grader and we are in need of a new book. I think she would like Lemony Snicket’s and I just happen to have the series as well 🙂 Happy reading K!

    1. Isn’t it a great series? I remember devouring it when it first came out and vowed to save them for my kids. The day has finally come! Thanks, Meghan!

  3. Absolutely love the dress. I’ve been meaning to ask you: There are several Japanese pattern books for children and adults available in English. Do you know if any of them are translations or similar to the Japanese language ones you have? I know you’ve mentioned in the past that some of the instructions are a little more difficult to understand (maybe different sewing jargon in Japanese) and translate, so I’m just wondering what the English versions are like. I’m lucky enough to have several resources if I want to get the Japanese version and have it translated, but right now, my sewing skills (desire is greater than actual skill and patience and probable outcome) might not make it worthwhile anyway 🙂 I do so much crafting and sewing in my head that when I actually want to do the real thing, I get overwhelmed by the mechanics of it all…a serious problem.


    I’ll add that I love the last picture of your daughter’s cute tootsies. I love baby and little kid toes 🙂

    1. Thanks Alana! So, the only English translation I have is the Simple Modern Sewing book and I found the instructions to be bare bones and a little confusing. I’ve heard similar issues with the translated Happy Homemade volume for kids.

      I read at about elementary school level in Japanese, so I rely heavily on the illustrations. What I’ve found is that 90% of the time, I don’t need the text, though there are the rare occasions when I need to delve a little deeper into translating the text. The first couple of times may be a little tricky with Japanese patterns, but they all follow the same if not very similar step-by-step sequence so you’ll quickly catch on. It sounds like you have access to translation resources, and I would highly recommend you to use them, but you might find that you won’t need to translate after a while 🙂 And I’m always happy to answer any questions about patterns and do get emails from folks from time to time.

      Hope that helps! And yes! Tiny toes are the best!!

      1. Thanks so much for the response! One of the moms in my daughter’s kinder class is Caucasian but born and raised in Japan. Her business is translating Japanese/English! Lucky for me!! I think what I should do is work on completing some American (and thus English) patterns first and when I feel comfortable enough sewing those, move on to some Japanese patterns.

        I truly appreciate your being open to emails and for responding to comments. Once work on your book gets heavier (and you become fabulously famous because of it) you might not have the leisure 🙂

        1. That’s awesome that you have a translation resource like that, Alana! I agree it’s a good idea to get comfortable with patterns with English instructions first. Once you feel like you’ve got the basics down, the Japanese patterns won’t feel too intimidating because the patterns are really quite straightforward and simple.

          I love comments and am always happy responding to them! Thanks for your vote of confidence about my book – I’m just hoping that it doesn’t totally flop!

  4. Very beautiful, such a happy dress! And I love the photos, they remind me of the portraits in a book I like – “Women who read are dangerous”. It shows different paintings and photos of reading women through the centuries. It seems like I spend my whole childhood with my nose in a book, so seeing K like this makes me happy! Books in our digital word are such a treasure!

    1. I was the same way – my mom literally had to drag me away from books, and I hid flashlights to read under the cover at night and the works. I worry that K might not be getting enough sleep (she reads at night for a very long time as well) but I so love that she revels in books! You’re right – it’s so nice to see in this digital age 🙂 Thank you, Ute!

  5. Beautifully done, Sanae. I wasn’t so crazy about the contrasting bands on this pattern so I love that you made them not contrasting. 🙂 It works so well. I love the poppies, too. I love poppies so much I considered naming our next baby Poppy – but my husband vetoed it and my kids pointed out it’s awfully close to ‘poopy’. 🙂 Your sewing is always so beautiful and your other O+S dress was absolutely amazing as well. Girl, you got skillz.

    1. Thank you, Rachel!! I hear you on the contrasting band – it wasn’t my favorite feature either. But I love the way it keeps the gathers all tucked in nicely and it’s a fantastic design element in that way. Poppy is such a cute name, but I never thought of the poopy factor!! Too funny!

    1. Thanks Kristin! Yep, the slip was pretty much mandatory since K likes sheer fabric (like me) but I’m always too lazy to attach a lining! 🙂

  6. THis is lovely Sanae. I’m echoing the Marimekko vibe and it DOES look so much better to me with the bands done in the same fabric. Especially a fabric like this one. Your restraint was spot on!

    1. Thanks Shelley! It’s such a fun dress to sew up, and I love it when something I make doesn’t languish in the closet (it happens a lot…)

  7. Lovely dress but what really impressed me was making the slip! I wore slips all the time growing up and I wonder why people don’t wear them more. I understand some dresses work better with a lining but why not make up a slip or two so you don’t have to line every dress.
    Anyways, great job again!

    1. I used to wear slips all the time too, and there’s something very ladylike about them, don’t you think? In fact, the slip was K’s favorite part 🙂

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