customizing with oliver + s: project run and play winner

Do you follow or participate in Project Run and Play? This season’s winner was Hayley of Welcome to the Mouse House, who made an adorable outfit that started with a Puppet Show Tunic and Shorts and added lots of wonderful details and loads of embroidery to make it really unique and special. She really did an amazing job!



We asked Hayley to tell us a bit about herself and about her winning ensemble, and here’s what she said. Congratulations, and thanks for joining us, Hayley!

Hey there!  My name is Hayley from Welcome to the Mouse House, and I am so incredibly excited to be over here at Oliver + S today. I have two adorable kids: 5 year old Ethan and 3 year old Ainsley.  They keep me extremely busy, but I always manage to carve out time to sew, design, and create because it keeps me sane.  I learned how to sew as a very young child and it turned into a true passion during my college years when I realized that I could make my own home decor items to spruce up my apartments. Having children, especially a daughter, fueled my desire to start sewing kids’ clothing and it has now become part of my everyday life.

Between raising kids, writing for my blog  Welcome to the Mouse House, and running my small Etsy shop, I find it hard to relax, but my awesome husband is always there to help keep me grounded.  I am not quite sure what my future business plans are just yet, but I am really loving what life has to offer for me right now.

I have been sewing for a very long time and have become familiar with many pattern companies, but Oliver + S patterns are my favorite to use when I am making clothes for my two children.  Not only are the adorable styles right up my alley, the patterns are always accurately sized and produce extremely well made pieces.

Just recently, I was fortunate enough to be the winning designer of Season 5 Project Run and Play.  If you have never heard of this competition, please go check it out!  It is the blogger’s version of Project Runway, but for kids’ clothing. So fun!

The sixth and final week of the competition required the remaining three designers to create a “Signature Look.”  (You can go here to see more details on my blog.). I believe that my “Signature Style” incorporates lots of unexpected details on timeless/classic pieces, and I knew that using an Oliver + S pattern as my starting point would be the best option.  My main goal was to spend my time on the hand embroidery and not creating a pattern from scratch, so I chose to use the Puppet Show Tunic and Shorts pattern and then modified it to suit my needs.

The biggest modifications involved lots of hand embroidery, adding long bell-shaped sleeves with cuffs, widening the waist of the tunic, lengthening the shorts a bit, and adding a wide placket to the front of the shorts.



I also added green piping into the peter pan collar because it gave it some extra detail and color.



Here you can see that I added a wide placket onto the front of the shorts with some extra large buttons.  The placket helps keep the front of the shorts flat, which is what I wanted for this particular outfit.



It is very easy to change up a pattern by switching out the sleeves.  The original Puppet Show Tunic pattern calls for puffy short sleeves, but I really wanted long bell-shaped sleeves, so I simply drafted my own by using my daughter’s arm length measurements and created my own shape. I love the end result!



Obviously, the embroidery is what really created a unique piece.  The hand embroidery took me over 20 hours, but it was absolutely worth it, in my opinion!  Of course, it wouldn’t be practical to spend that many hours on every item I sew, but it is just an example of how the little details can make such a big difference.

Here is the tunic with my pencil tracings, right before I set to work with the embroidery.




Then, the long process began.





Modifying a pattern can be so rewarding, and I encourage everyone to give it a try.  Start with something simple like changing out the shape of the sleeve or lengthening a shirt.  Once you see how easy it is, I guarantee you will do it all the time!

Thanks so much for inviting me over here, Liesl. It was quite an honor!




  1. Tamara

    I quite agree, hand embroidery or any embellishment by hand does lend quite a unique element to a garment. Love this post and congratulations on your win!

  2. Love the long sleeves…it makes the Puppet Show Tunic/Dress even more versatile!

  3. Fiona

    Hayley, your little girl’s outfit is magnificent! I particularly admire your patience abt finishing the outfit to add the embroidery. I am also impressed by the long sleeves on the top.

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