I'm Janimal, happily gainfully employed Momma to a sweet girl. Livin' it up in Atlanta with a great husband and a good job. Sometimes I make stuff and here's my spot to show it off! Life is good, so I'm sharing....

Monday, April 5, 2010

Popover Dress Tutorial Sew Along

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. We're Jewish, but that didn't stop Delilah from scoring 5 candy filled plastic eggs at a Easter Egg hunt on Saturday. I figure since it was Saturday, not Easter, it didn't count, right?!?! It was a lot of fun and we were thrilled to have been invited.

Mostly I am glad that Easter is over because for weeks I have been seeing AWESOME Easter projects for pretty decorations and food that I can't follow being all Jewish over here. Now I am gleeful that these same blogs will fill up with awesome ideas for me get excited over!

Today I would like to share a sewalong tutorial for my favorite dress!
Pictures following the Popover Dress pattern! (FREE pattern from Oliver and S)

I can't stop posting about the Popover dress! As I made one for Delilah, I took lots of pictures. Honestly the pattern is so clear a tutorial is probably unnecessary. Although, I admit, I got a bit confused the first time I sewed the bias tape around the arm, so perhaps following these pictures along with the pattern might help someone else following it for the first time.

This feels like such an accomplishment to me. Patterns intimidate me a bit. The language of them is unfamiliar to me, and I am a bit scared of the accuracy they seem to require. Curved lines and darts - oh my! But since the Lazy Days skirt by Oliver and S was so easy and so cute, I thought I would give another of their patterns a go.

THANKS to Oliver and S for these free patterns. I now think I have the confidence to try other more complicated patterns, and I know which ones to buy. I have already purchased other Oliver and S patterns to try!

For my first attempt, I used some fabric I already had in my stash. Although I made a mistake on one arm seam (duh) and was super slow, the first dress turned out pretty cute. So I decided to cut into my fancy Japanese Kokka fabric and have another go. And decided to take pictures as I worked to share.

My hope is that someone, out there in blogland, who has wanted to sew up a child's dress, might find my pictures here and it might help them follow this simple pattern. I am a total novice when it comes to garment sewing, and I managed to pull this off. YOU CAN TOO! The pattern has great instructions, so my pictures and notes below are really just to augment what is already printed and written so well.

*Note, from start to finish this dress took me 2 hours to sew. That's taking my time, having to repin, and taking pictures. The first one took a little longer. I bet my next one I will whip out in a snap. I may have to call it the "nap dress" instead because making one is about the length of one naptime!

Supplies needed:

Dress fabric -- depending on the size -- I used 1 yard for a 3T but cut the length to a the 2T line.

Fabric for yoke and straps - I had 1 yard of coordinating fabric and actually think 3/4 is enough.

Pattern printed and cut and stuck together (FREE! HERE!)

Something to trace the pattern on the fabric (watersoluble pen is great for this)



Sewing Machine and thread


First, print the pattern pieces and cut them out and tape together. You should have 3 pieces. The body of the dress which is a half dress shape, a long rectangle that forms the straps, and the yoke.

For my Delilah, who at 17 months and the 95th percentile is a big girl, I decided to make a size 3 to make sure the dress fit over her lovely toddler belly. It was perfect, except I thought I could make it a tad shorter to make it easier for playing in. So mine is a size 3, with about 3/4 inch off the bottom length. (This also allowed me to make the dress using just one yard of fabric)

Fold your fabric in half, so that the selvedge edges touch, and place your dress pattern piece along the fold. Trace and cut two dress pieces this way.

(The pattern has an illustration)

(EDIT: I posted an edit to how to cut the fabric pieces in THIS post. The way I did it here was just as described in the pattern. Since then I have found a way to cut wasting less fabric without changing the drape of the dress.)

For the straps, you actually need to cut rectangles twice as long as the pattern piece. So you can either print two of those rectangles, trace the rectangle twice, or do what I did. Get out a ruler and draw lines 2 inches apart along the bias. For a size 3 I needed 16 inch straps. So I cut 2 straps that were 2' by 16'.

(DON'T be tempted to cut the straps differently. I know bias cutting takes up a lot of fabric, but it's important for the construction of the dress. For my next attempt, I think I may try store bought bias tape and see how that works. Save time!)

Lay the yoke piece down and trace over that. Fold your fabric under so when you cut around the traced pattern, you have two identical yoke pieces.

You should have 6 pieces of cut fabric. 2 dress pieces. 2 straps. 2 yokes.

I ironed my pieces before moving on.

The instructions say: "Align and pin one yoke to the top of one dress panel, with the right side of the yoke facing the wrong side of the dress panel. (You'll notice that the top of the dress is curved, which will help the dress, when worn, flare at the front and back instead of just the sides.)"

Ok, I had to go slow here. Pinning a straight piece onto a curved piece was a bit tricky for me. I read this over a few times to make sure I understood what I was reading and what to do.

First, I pinned the middle of the yoke piece to the middle of the dress piece. Both pattern sides down.

I pinned slowly, moving the straight yoke piece around the curve of the top of the dress. After I did one side, did the other. Then went back and repinned the first side again. This was the hardest thing for me, this pinning job. I don't like to pin! But honestly, it wasn't that bad. It's a slight curve and a even if it's not perfect, it will be ok.

Here one side is pinned. You can see the straight yoke lined up against the curved neckline.

And here it is pinned together. The straight yoke is no longer flat, because it is pinned to the curve.

Once you have it pinned, sew the yoke to the dress about 1/2' from the edge.

OK - first line of sewing - DONE!

Press that seam open like so:

Now, lay the fabric down, patterned side of the dress facing you, and fold over the top of the yoke about 1/2 inch, and iron.

Then, take that top fold of the yoke, and bring it down just over the stitching line, and pin. I again, start in the middle with the pins then do the sides.

Here with one pin in the middle front. Just covering the sewline.

Halfway pinned...

See how the yoke is covering the sewline now as you pin?

MUCH easier to pin the yoke to the curve this time!

Then put in sewing machine pattern side up, and stitch along that folded edge of the yoke covering the other stitch line. (See the line I drew above? That's where you stitch) So the top of the dress piece is now cased in the yoke.

Do the same thing with the other dress piece and yoke. (It's easier the 2nd time through. You'll do the second piece in a flash!)

Now, put the patterned sides of the fabric together, and stitch along the sides with a 1/2 inch seam. The instructions say to pin this, but I had enough with playing with pins at this point (!), and I didn't really feel like I needed them to sew 2 straight lines together.

The instructions then say to finish the seams "as desired". They also provide a hint that this would be a good spot for a french seam. Although I like the idea for a french seam, I decided to use an overcasting stitch. You could serge this if you have a serger. I don't. I got out my instruction booklet for my sewing machine and practiced the overcast stitch on a scrap first. I may try a french seam on a later version but for now I think my overcast stitch should help keep the seam from fraying.

Now it's time for the straps.

First, some ironing. Iron the straps in half lengthwise, pattern sides out, wrong sides in..

Then iron the top half in half, to the crease your just ironed in. Should be about a half an inch.

Fold the strap in half to find the center. And now we're going to pin it to the dress. The dress should still be inside out. The strap in this picture, has the ironed side on the bottom. So the un-ironed flat half of the strap is what the pin is through. Oh gosh does that make sense? My first time following this pattern I was confused about how this was going to work. Make sure the patterned side of the strap is facing the plain side of the dress. Both patterned sides are facing down. Just like when the yoke was first sewn to the front of the dress.

Pin the center of the strap to the center of the arm hole, lining the top of the strap with the edge of the dress.

Carefully pin around the rest of the armhole. Again, here we are pinning a straight piece of fabric, the strap, to the curved armhole. Take your time and use as many pins as you need! Once you've done one side, pin the other side.

Now it's time to slip this into your machine and stitch. Sew about a half an inch from the edge. Go slowly!

It's time to finish ironing those straps. Just as you ironed one side in before, now iron the other side in. This should make the folded ironed strap about a half inch wide.

Now, just as you did with the yoke at the top of the dress, fold the strap piece over the arm edge. Fold the strap along the lines you ironed in earlier, and wrap the strap around the armhole. Put in a few pins to secure. This will make a lot more sense when you have these pieces in front of you and are sewing along, than if you are just reading through. Promise!


See here how the strap looks on the right side. I found that putting it over the edge of my ironing board and ironing it in place was helpful.

At this point, making sure the right side of the dress is up, facing you, start sewing along the edge of one strap, working slowly around the armhole, and along the strap on the other side.

The instructions say to fold down the end of the strap before stitching it. I decided to hand stich the ends of the straps. Next time I will probably cut the ends to a point, fold in, and sew. Take a look and see what you think for your fabric.

Do all this for the other side!

Now it's time for the hem! I was tempted to put a ribbon hem, like the Lazy Days Skirt, but decided to be a stickler to the pattern and followed the directions.

First, sew a basting line 5/8 from the raw bottom of the dress. I set my machine for a longish baste stitch. You will be pulling this out later, so don't backstitch or secure it!

Then iron the bottom hem at the baste line you just sewed.

Then iron the raw edge in to the crease you just ironed, making a really narrow little hem. Edgestitch and you are done!

Aaaah, dress!

I LOVED the simplicity of this dress. I was able to finish it in one evening, and was kinda bummed that Delilah was sleeping so I couldn't put it on her right away.

She appears to like it!
(see the tutorial for a matching hairclippy here)

If you've made the Popover Dress and have any tips to share, please post them. This pattern was a wonderful introduction to Oliver and S and I am so excited to try their other patterns now.


  1. Superb tutorial and I am just IN LOVE with your fabric choice!!!! Just to let you know....you were one of the winner of my Candy Apple Charm Giveaway :)

  2. Thank you so much for doing this! I am going to print it out! I'll let you know how it goes.

  3. The dress turned out beautiful and the tutorial is great. Thanks for linking up this week. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for another great party!

  4. Thanks for the tutorial. I have been making lots of pillowcase dresses for my munchkin and this one looks like it is just as easy.

  5. Adorable dress and thank you so much for the great tutorial!

    Thanks for linking up with Sugar & Spice!

  6. Hello, I can't help you enough for taking the time to do this!! I am just about to sew this for the first time for a friend's baby, and I SO appreciate the pictures! You rock!!

  7. So cute! I just became a follower. Someday, I will try these out for my 2 girls!

  8. Thank you for taking the time to make this tutorial! I'm a visual sewer, which is why all the patterns I bought just sit on my shelf. I made this dress for my little girl yesterday with the help of your hand-holding tutorial.

    Any chance you'd be interested in making the tutorial for Oliver + S ruffle halter top? I really want to make it, but it's confusing me.

  9. Hi there, I am a newbie to sewing and Oliver + S's popover sundress is my first project. You don't know how elated I was to able to find step by step tutorial of this tutorial with pictures! Thanks for the effort I definitely gained from it.

    I am currently half way through the dress and have hit the dead end at making the strap. Can you kindly tell me how do you hand sew the edge of the strap? Using slip stitch? What do I do when I get to the arm hole?

    Hopefully I can post a picture of my completed project soon.


  10. Great tutorial, I was pleased to find this before I embarked on the project!

  11. Thanks for posting this! The pictures really helped me as I have never sewn anything and I just made four of these dresses for Christmas gifts! I made two for my girls and two for their dolls.

    Happy holidays!

  12. I HEART your blog!!!

    You are an inspiration. Like you I am working though the O+S learn to sew syllabus as a beginner (just finished 3 Lazy Days skirts) and now I'm on to the Popover dress.

    This tutorial is extremely helpful.

    I'll be following you at every step.

  13. Thanks so much for posting the pictures. I screwed up the yoke and couldn't figure out my mistake. But looking at your pics, I'm back on track. Now I'm off to utilize my trusty seam ripper, so that I can get it on there correctly!

    Thanks so much!

    Birmingham, AL

  14. Excellent tutorial. Thanks for posting the pictures. It is a well written pattern but your pictures really helped this newbie sewer out.

  15. Thank you for sharing this! I really needed the extra help with attaching the yoke.

  16. Thank you! I made this for a charity called dress a girl. Never made a dress before. Your tute was very handy!!! I buggered up the yoke but it wasn't too bad. Thanks again.

  17. Thank you!! Just started working on this and didn't even understand the first step in the pattern about pinning the yoke on. So glad I found your site! Hopefully mine will look as good as yours.


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