catching up

Hello, friends! I had a great weekend with the Smocking Arts Guild in Orlando. What a wonderful group of women! They are  passionate about all sorts of needle arts, and if you have any interest at all in hand stitching they would be absolutely delighted if you would join their organization. They’re especially looking for younger members, and they are very generous with their time. They love to answer questions and to teach all sorts of needle arts, not just smocking. One of their members generously taught me to smock a baby gown, and it was quick and easy! Here’s S, modeling it with her baby doll before I send it off to SAGA’s Wee Care, which donates smocked gowns to premature babies.



image from Oliver + S on Instagram

While I was lecturing at the conference I shared a lot of photos of your work, and the members absolutely loved to see what all of your creativity. I showed off some of your Halloween costumes as well as a wide variety of your Roller Skate and Fairy Tale dresses. You are quite an impressive group of sewists! Emily and Ashley from Frances Suzanne made the trip, and it was great to finally meet them in person. I also met bloggers Teresa and Harmony.

If I had remembered to take photos of the guild members’ work on display, you could see some stunning examples of pulled thread, hemstitching, ribbon embroidery, and dressmaking at its finest. It was really impressive. So if you have any interest learning new skills or developing some existing interests and skills, I’d encourage you to check out SAGA. The Smocking Arts Guild has chapters all over the place (Australia, you too!), and you can become a member-at-large even if there aren’t any chapters near you. Or start your own; you only need three people to do so.

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tween style: denim sketchbook shirt

Last month on the blog we had a tween dress round-up, showing examples of how the Oliver + S patterns can work for older kids. We would like to continue to share more ideas and today we are happy to welcome Stacy who is the mother of two tweens. She is going to share how she customized a couple of tops for her tween daughter to create a layered look perfect for fall and winter. Although this look was made for a tween (which is the nine to twelve year old range), these ideas and tips can be used for other sizes, too. Thanks so much for being here Stacy!

Sewing for a tween can be an angst ridden process. They have definite opinions on what they want to wear, and are highly influenced by their friend’s retail fashions.

In order to please the tween, I do the following:

  • Ask her opinion on fabric selections and patterns before I start sewing
  • Add some bling (or…a lot!)

In today’s garment, I had shown her a catalog from a trendy tween store to get some ideas of what she wanted for fall. She saw some denim shirts that peaked her interest, so I used the Sketchbook Shirt pattern to make it for her (with modifications).


Customized Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt


My daughter is thin, so I didn’t want the shirt to be too boxy on her. I omitted the back pleat to keep it a bit closer to the body. I used a stretch woven chambray, so it has some give to it. I also lined the inside of the yoke with a contrasting cotton, in addition to the inside of the placket, outside of the cuff and collar. Adding these kinds of details to a regular button up top can really make them fun. It is a great element in how the contrast on the placket shows when it is tied up on her torso.


Customized Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt

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feature friday: mondrian chic

For his fall 1965 collection, Yves St. Laurent took inspiration from the abstract paintings of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. St. Laurent recognized that the simple sack dresses of the 1960s would be a perfect canvas for color blocking, and he was often inspired by other artists. This dress was made in wool jersey, and I had the pleasure of seeing it in person at the Yves St. Laurent show in Denver with my sister a couple of years ago. It’s deceptively simple; all the shaping (and there is shaping) is hidden in the color-blocked seams.




While we were in Spain looking at lots of art, I tried to convince S that she needed me to make her a St. Laurent-inspired Mondrian dress. I showed her a few paintings by Mondrian and then showed her images from St. Laurent’s collection. Maybe it was because we had been looking at art for four days in a row during our Madrid trip and the poor kid was tired and bored, but she was decidedly not interested.

In any case, it doesn’t matter because it turns out the Monica of MaMeMiMo has already done it!




How cute is that! I had the great pleasure of meeting Monica and a group of other fantastic sewing bloggers from Spain when they invited me to brunch with them at a darling sewing-themed restaurant in Barcelona, with old sewing machine as the base of many of the tables. Monica made her Mondrian dress using the Jump Rope Dress pattern (View B) with grosgrain ribbon for the black frames. You can read her full post about the dress here. (Google translate does a reasonably good job for those of us who don’t read Spanish.)

I just love it. Thanks for letting us feature your fantastic work, Monica! Oh, and as long as you’re over at Monica’s blog, be sure to check out her version of our Lisette Round-Trip Dress, too. It fits her beautifully, doesn’t it?

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introducing the liesl + co girl friday culottes

I know what you’re thinking. You just read the word “culottes,” and if you’re about my age or older you’re getting ready to run away as fast as you can. But this is not the culottes of your youth.  Or your mother’s youth, if you’re younger than I am. Stick with me for a minute while I introduce you to our new Girl Friday Culottes pattern. I think you’ll be glad you did.




See what I mean? These culottes are more like a full skirt. And a very elegant full skirt, at that. And they’re surprisingly versatile. They’ve actually become a staple in my wardrobe, crazy as that may sound. They have hidden side pockets (not your typical on-seam pockets–much cooler than that), a very hidden (and surprisingly easy-to-sew) zipper inside the left pocket, pleats that hide the rise and make the culottes look more like a skirt, and flattering back darts to give you a smooth look from behind. And by the way, did you know that culottes are surprisingly flattering to your back end? It’s true!

If you’re a classic sort of girl, you can wear these in a New Look sort of way. You know what I mean when I say New Look, right? Christian Dior, 1947? Here’s the iconic image to spark your visual memory. You’ve seen this photo before, right?




Obviously the Girl Friday Culottes aren’t the New Look, but they can be worn in that same narrow waist, full-skirt, classic/vintage sort of manner. (Some of Dior’s dress designs even had a culottes feel.) Tuck in your blouse or T-shirt and slip on some pumps and you have a timeless, feminine look. The fact that they’re culottes just adds to the appeal here. You can ride your bike (really), run after the school bus (like we did yesterday when it arrived ten minutes early), or dance (see the influence of that inspiration I mentioned?) and still look feminine and stunning. Classic heels and red lips? Done.




Or you can give the culottes a more contemporary look with a boxy top like the one I’m wearing in the photo above (Interested in sewing your own? Stay tuned.) or even a long, oversized tunic or sweater if you’re daring and want to channel that It Girl look. This look is more about emphasizing a lot of volume and will take a little more confidence than the classic look I described above. It’s much more fashion-week ready.

Personally, I just like that they’re so versatile and truly wearable.




Still not convinced? As I was working on this pattern I collected a ridiculous number of tear sheets and images to show you. Culottes are everywhere right now. Here are some images with more classic styling to inspire you.




And here are a bunch of images with contemporary styling. You can see many, many more examples, including lots of images with contemporary styling, in my Liesl + Co Styling Ideas Pinterest board.


contemporary-culottes-1 contemporary-culottes-2


But now do you see what I mean? I’ve been wearing these culottes in linen all summer and have gotten so many compliments, particularly from my New York friends who are much cooler than I am and who have sort of freaked out over this style. What else? Oh yes, this pattern goes up to size 20 as well! All our new patterns are sizes 0-20.

The fabric possibilities for this pattern are almost endless. Use a lightweight, drapey fabric for a sleek look, like the dark red version which was made from Robert Kaufman’s silk/cotton Radiance, which is very lightweight, has a lovely drape and a gentle shine, and is washable. (Our model fell in love with them, so I gave them to her.)

I posted a couple of previews of this pattern on Instagram last spring and they got a very positive response. The black linen version in my Instagram photos was made from handkerchief linen I got at Gray Lines Linen, and the clay-colored version in the photos below is made from heavyweight washed silk I found at Mood. Here is the side view. I like how the skirt gently flares.




And here is the back with those darts for shaping:




You can also use a heavier fabric for a fuller-looking skirt. This navy pair is made from a heavy cotton/wool blend (also from Mood) and will be fantastic for cold weather. These might even be warm enough to wear on New York’s coldest days.




And believe it or not, this shorter gray version is made from classic Kona cotton. I shortened these a bit for a casual look. (See the Pinterest board for more styling inspiration and a variety of lengths.)




I still really want to make a pair from a silk faille for a really dressy look, too. Wouldn’t they be great in navy or a pale pink? And they could be worn with a casual T-shirt for everyday, so you don’t need to save them for fancy occasions.

So there you have it. I really wasn’t kidding when I said culottes! You can see all the information about them here. I can’t wait to see what you do with yours.

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color palette: noir et blanc

This week I have a photograph with a monochrome palette for you. It was taken by Vivian Maier who was an American street photographer. Her selfie in black and white is undated but her best known photographs were street scenes in Chicago and New York in the 1950s and 1960s. There is a certain mystery with black and white photos and this one is no exception. I would say it’s as mysterious as the woman who took it.

By the way, have you seen the documentary film about her called Finding Vivian Maier? I haven’t yet, but look forward to it.

noir et blanc color palette

Image: Self-portrait of Vivian Maier
Fabrics: circles, grid, mod, dots, floral, stripes

When I think of the combination of black and white together with regards to fashion, many words come to mind: bold, classic, elegant, sleek, minimal. These two contrasting colors are quite easy to use in garment sewing. A very classic look is a white top with a black bottom. Who doesn’t love a black and white striped t-shirt? And don’t forget about color blocking. Maybe you are inspired to use noir et blanc when sewing up one of the new Liesl + Co. releases.

All of these and more color inspiration images and fabrics can be found on the color palettes and fabric Pinterest board.

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school uniform round-up

School’s back in session, and so is the school dress code. That means it’s time to follow the rules and dress your kids in the right school attire in adorable styles. You can sew school uniforms that meet the grade. Here is a gathering of inspiration which includes tops, jumpers, skirts, skorts, and dresses that have great-looking style for every season of the school year.

First up, we have one of our intrepid forum moderators Nicole who sewed this music class duet for two of her girls using the Music Class Blouse and Skirt.


Oliver + S Music Class Blouse and Skirt


Nicole is also the seamstress who made this adorable Jump Rope Dress in the View B version for one of her daughters. You can see the clever details of this dress in her blog post here.


Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress


Next up, Jeanne has sewn many Oliver + S school uniforms over the years. Here is a Hula Hoop Skirt she made.


Oliver + S Hula Hoop Skirt
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