customized: family reunion dress

I always love to see what you do with our sewing patterns, and it’s especially fun to see how you customize them to make them your own.

Here is an excellent example.

This gorgeous Family Reunion Dress was sewn by Nicole, who makes all sorts of terrific things for her five children. Nicole lives in Australia and blogs at Five and Counting.

I asked her for some details about the alterations she made to the pattern, and here is what she said:

I used a chartreuse dupioni silk for the dress and a pearly pink thai silk for the trim. I pre-washed the fabric in my machine on a gentle load with Pantene shampoo and conditioner (mix the conditioner with water first) and line dried. I have continued to wash the dress the same way, and all the lemonade and cake comes out.

The alterations were very few. I lengthened the short sleeves straight down without tapering the line. When sewing the sleeves I created a simple elastic casing and used 1/2 inch non-curl elastic so it had some width and firmness. Using the contrast thai silk I made two simple ties and sewed them in place at the seam of the cuff. They simply tie around her wrist after dressing.

The neck was a folded strip of the same silk. I think it may have been double the neck measurement? I sewed the ends and turned it to have a neat finish.

I basted the ruffle to the wrong side of the dress and then pinned the right side of the facing over that and sewed them all together [follow the sewing instructions for the facing, but sandwich the ruffle between the facing and the wrong side of the dress] and then turned the facing to the outside (after trimming the neckline).

I replaced the front tab with a ruffle of the thai silk approximately the same length and hand sewed a little silver charm to the bottom of the ruffle.

Isn’t it beautiful? Here it is in action. You can see more photos of Nicole’s sewing on Flickr, too.

I’ve just created a new pinterest board called “Customizing with Oliver + S” where I thought it would be fun to collect inspiration, both of clothing that you’ve sewn and of images I see that give me ideas of ways you might want to customize our patterns. We’ll blog more in-depth looks at some of these ideas, too, so I hope you’ll find lots of inspiration for your own projects.

And as always, I can’t wait to see what you make!




  1. Sarvi

    Gorgeous dress with lots of nice details. Looking forward to checking out everyone’s ideas for new spins on the patterns! The link seems to be mistyped, though, it’s here:

    1. Thanks Sarvi. Link has been fixed now.

  2. Nicole is one of the most talented sewists I know. She is so generous with her time and with helping others make gorgeous creations too. It’s fabulous to see her work on your blog! Thank you πŸ™‚

  3. Oh my goodness Liesl,I am very humbled,I thought I was to be part of a post-not a post!
    Thank you for the huge compliment.
    PS-Silk is best dried away from a breeze as that can ‘rough’ up the fibres and it will not have as much sheen.

  4. diane

    I love the idea of sharing how such talented folks have customized and altered the patterns on Pinterest. What amazing inspiration! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Sandi

    What a nice post and a gorgeous dress! I’m off to look at your new pin board, Liesl.

  6. Nicole always does such beautiful work, and this dress is no exception! And Liesl, I love that you’re so excited about people customizing your patterns, it’s really fun to see all the variations! πŸ™‚

  7. sharon

    Nicole is so wonderful at inspiring to try new things! Half of patterns I bough is because she has made a pattern that I just can’t seem to get out of my head. A very clever woman she is!

  8. I agree with everyone else! Nicole is such an inspiration and such a help! She is always so sweet in answering my questions. And she sews ah-mazing clothes!! Can I be her daughter… πŸ˜‰ And I have enjoyed following your board Liesel, it is so fun to see how others have customized and also when you show a designer garment and tell what pattern to use to make it… does that make any sense? ha! (I am thinking specifically of the teal jcrew shorts:)

  9. Great posting!
    This particular family reunion dress by Nicole was truly amazing! The ruffles and bow ties are so girlie and sweet.
    Nicole’s work is always so inspirational and she’s always happy to share her ideas and projects with others (brilliant tutorials, but I suppose most of you already know that…). Now, if only I could have her time management skills (…)

    And I really love all the inspiration provided by pinterest (trying not to get addicted, though ;))

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