"She's my best friend."
"No, she's my best friend."
"No, she can't be your best friend because she's mine."
On and on, round and round in circles for much of our playtime.
Today, Kristin from skirt as top has a best friend who is one of the most popular kids in the class. Thankfully we have all moved on from our younger years and realise that we are mature enough to share!!
Anyway - I know Kristin would be happy to share. She is such a lovely, supportive blogger. Although I had been a regular reader of her blog for some time, our paths crossed when she sent us the most delightful email, the day we were voted off Project Run and Play. In our very sad state, it was so lovely to receive such thoughtful words of support and understanding from her. Don't forget to visit her blog - you'll have lots of fun there!!
before i go any further, i should say that REALLY, my mom is the one that deserves all of the credit for me taking on sewing as a hobby. she sewed clothes for my sisters and i, for herself, she made all sorts of handy projects, and i believe she can sew anything. she taught me the basics as a kid, but what she really did was make sewing a familiar craft to me - i knew how the machine should sound, i saw the possibilities of what can be made versus bought, i knew what supplies i would need. from my mom i also learned that sewing is something that can be done with kids playing in the same room, a habit i hope to pick up more as mine get a little older (i have a 4 year old and an almost 2 year old). for now, i'm mostly a naptime/bedtime sewer.
my mom truly gave me a jump start in sewing i'm eternally grateful to her for that, but i didn't embrace sewing as my own hobby and passion until my daughter was a toddler (summer of 2009). i couldn't bring myself to buy $20 simple cotton skirts from the store when i knew they'd be so easy and cheap to make exactly how i wanted them. my husband gave a sewing machine as a gift, and i got it set up.
i quickly realized that sewing is such an ancient craft and i was such a newbie, i wanted to learn from others. however, i didn't want to pay for a class, just in case it "didn't take." i think i ended up just googling "toddler skirt pattern" to get me started. lo and behold, i discovered the Oliver + S lazy days skirt FREE pattern, and that was my first sewing project (top left)!
the first lazy days skirt i made took me 2 hours, but i learned so much. the instructions walked me through each step, and i learned how fun (and challenging) it was to choose fabrics that would look interesting, mesh with her existing wardrobe, and look "boutique" rather than "homemade." the lazy days skirt (with or without ribbon hem) remains my go-to skirt method to this day.
once i was ready to take the next step to try a pattern with pieces (but still wasn't ready to pay for it yet), i tried the popover sundress pattern (also FREE). my first popover sundress is the brown with pink corduroy in the bottom middle:
aside from learning how to follow a simple pattern, the popover sundress also taught me how to make and sew bias tape! after that success i was hooked on sewing, and on Oliver + S patterns specifically. i knew that if these free patterns were so good, their "real" patterns must be even better!
i was right. i am now a full-fledged Oliver + S devotee. i see their patterns as the gold standard by which every other pattern is judged - they're interesting, classic designs, the fit is always good, the techniques are clever and the instructions clear. best of all, they're comfortable and easy for kids to wear!
(i say almost my whole collection because i have a few digital patterns too...they're not as pretty all stacked up)
with each Oliver + S pattern i make, i learn a new technique that i can apply to future projects. every step is explained so well, that even if i've never tried a particular technique before, it teaches me how and then i can continue to use it on my own designs. for instance, i learned how to line a bodice from the bubble dress, and used that method when i created my project run & play creation, the sweet tartan dress (tutorial here). i also used the sunday brunch jacket pattern to create my kimono jacket and little red jacket for project run & play!
my favorite boy patterns, hands down, are the sailboat top and pants. they're really fun to sew and add unique style to a little guy's wardrobe without being overdone. i love that Oliver + S patterns are great basic designs that i can easily customize. he could have five sailboat tops in his closet and i would feel like, based on fabric/button selection, they could look completely different.
my other favorite "boy" pattern (actually unisex but i've only used it for boys) is the bedtime story pajamas, especially the bottoms:
since they're so versatile and fun to sew, i also tend to make my Oliver + S patterns over and over (which helps justify the higher-than-commercial-pattern price tag). the bucket hat from Oliver + S creator Liesl Gibson's book, little things to sew, is now a summertime staple. bucket hat is now also a free download! check out a little gray's tutorials for no hand stitching and widened brims, too.
i've sewn more projects from little things to sew than any sewing/craft book i own.
while i have sewn most of my patterns a few times, some patterns i've only sewn once (though this post is making me want to get them all out again!):
i think Oliver + S, more than any other blog, tutorial, or class, has taught me to sew properly and has helped make sewing my passion. their flickr group is active and quickly brought me into the "sewing community, and their blog has fun "customizing with Oliver + S" posts that really show the patterns' potential. i've even made a real life friend through the Oliver + S flickr group! pretty cool. a big thanks to Liesl Gibson for creating such a great company and being such a generous person (commenting on people's projects, putting out free patterns, and helping people learn through her excellent pattern writing). i'll go ahead and shout it from the rooftops: I LOVE OLIVER + S!
if you'd like to read more about any of the projects i've shown here, please see my flickr set for pre-blog details and links to my blog posts. and feel free to stop by skirt as top anytime!
thanks so much for having me, ladies! this was a fun trip down memory lane.
(since this might read as a bit of a commercial, i feel the need to state that Oliver + S is not currently a sponsor of mine and i received no compensation for this post)
Thanks so much Kristin. O + S patterns really are the best. There is always at least one of them on my sewing to do list.
And as Kristin says, if you are new to sewing O + S patterns are a perfect place to start. All the patterns are graded according to their difficulty - from one to four scissors. If you work your way through from the more simpler patterns to the 4 scissor ones, when you get to the end, you will have taught yourself to sew!!
What is your favorite O+S pattern? And what new skills did it teach you?