my favorite oliver + s pattern: deb from sewing stash challenge

Today we are happy to welcome back Deb who on her previous visit shared how she customized the Secret Agent Trench Coat into a lab coat. Known as “MyNorth” on Flickr, Deb is “Moms” to her three children and “Mamaw” to her two grandkids. She lives in a little cottage by a lake in Ontario, Canada where she’s busy bustin’ her sewing stash. Deb has sewn at least one view of all 47 Oliver + S patterns, plus all the 5 free ones, as well! She dropped by to tell us about her favorite one.

When asked what my favourite Oliver + S pattern is for the “Favourite Pattern” review on the blog, instinctively I replied that the Bubble Dress would top the list. Truth is, all Oliver + S patterns are my favourite. I have them all and have sewn them all including the free downloads. It’s just that the Bubble Dress pattern seems to be my go-to pattern when I want to make something quick, fun and for any occasion.

I really like the capped sleeve and bodice. It could be applied to any style dress. The same goes for the bubble skirt portion. It could work on just about any style bodice dress.

As for fabric choices, well, just about everything works for this pattern. Quilting style cottons, wool, designer fabrics, even home dec; as well, just about any fabric print design, big or small, works too.

In the past I’ve made at least a dozen of these dresses and to prove my point on versatility, I cranked out another eight.

All the dresses (except for two) are size 5 which is still a little big on our model but we are anticipating a growth spurt judging by her recent voracious appetite.

When I spotted this summery sweet border print cotton fabric, instantly I knew that the border section seems to lend itself to the bubble skirt while the less patterned section works for the bodice. I piped the neckline, sleeve and waistline with mauve piping and now my Sweet Petunia has the perfect summer party dress.


Oliver + S Bubble Dress


Because I really like the bodice and sleeve detail I’ve paired it with different skirt styles as well as lengthening the bodice section as follows.

First up, Bubble Dress meets the Fairy Tale Dress. For this dress, I simply laid the Bubble dress bodice pattern pieces over the Fairy Tale bodice pattern pieces to trace and create the sleeve and length for the new pattern pieces. I included a Peter Pan collar on this dress. To construct the bodice, I followed the instructions for the Bubble dress, stitching the neck and sleeve lining and outer fabrics together, then referred to the Fairy Tale instructions. It was a bit fiddley putting in the zipper, but do-able. The hem is folded twice and stitched about 3cm (an inch) on the bottom edge of the fold creating a tiny tuck. Yours truly is too busy to spend time hand stitching. I’ve got serious machine sewing to do!


Customized Oliver + S Bubble Dress


Since the twirl factor plays a big role in the choice of dresses our little Sweetie Pie likes to wear, the next dress has a circle skirt attached to the Bubble Dress bodice that has been lengthened. The fabric is polyester that I swear is the same type of fabric I had for my grade 8 graduation dress. My dress was yellow with a strip of lace down the front, so I added a strip of lace on hers.


Customized Oliver + S Bubble Dress


Continuing on with lengthening the bodice, I made a dropped waist version and attached it to a two tiered skirt. It’s size 6 as I used an existing long waisted pattern piece adding the Bubble style sleeve section. It’s a little big on her at the moment but after several washings and trips through her mom’s dryer it’ll be a perfect fit in no time. There’s a ruffle that goes down the front bodice made by creating a fabric tube and running a basting thread along the middle and pulling on the thread to create a ruffled effect. I stitched a number of bright orange buttons down the front. Downloading the free Bucket Hat pattern, I made her a matching hat with orange polka dot lining.


Customized Oliver + S Bubble Dress


Last month our little Princess was invited to a “Frozen” themed party but all she had to wear was a well worn Cinderella dress. I guess there’s some irony in that last statement. Well anyway, to avoid any further princess wardrobe impropriety, she now has an Elsa “Frozen” themed dress. The bodice section is blue satin and the skirt is long, but not too long causing her to trip on the hem. The skirt is also two layers; the lining is inexpensive cotton and the outer fabric is lace-like with some sparkle and raised shiny thread. Perfect costume fabric.


Customized Oliver + S Bubble Dress


I also made her a matching cape using the same lacy fabric as the outer skirt section. The cape pattern in Little Things To Sew is the perfect choice.


Elsa Cape


My neighbour’s studio gallery looks exactly like a castle so our Elsa insisted on having her photo taken there to welcome everyone to her kingdom.


Oliver + S Bubble Dress customized into Elsa dress


Elsa costume


The Bubble skirt section of this dress is fun. It can be puffy or subtle creating an element of elegance. Thinking about elegance, the little black dress and haute couture, I channeled Coco Chanel for the next dress. I used a waist length bodice pattern with long sleeves and added it to the bubble skirt. The fabric is dark navy wool blend and the sleeve cuffs are white satin reminiscent of Coco wearing white bracelets. The bodice lining is cotton and the bubble skirt lining is Bemberg. Images of Coco Chanel always seem to show her wearing plenty of pearls. For my little Coco, I bought a meter of plastic pearls from the fabric store, made three strands adding a jewellery charm letter “C” which also happens to be her first initial.


Customized Oliver + S Bubble Dress


My daughter likes children’s clothes from the “G ending with ee” store. My Moriarty. Last Christmas, she saw a gem studded dress from that store and wanted me to make one exactly the same. I found some similar fabric in the drapery section of a fabric store that I purchased for $6.00. My daughter called me a few days later to say that dress went on sale for $16.00, a bargain she thought, so bought it. Since I already had the fabric, I made the dress anyway despite being a duplicate and added the gems exactly the same following images from their website. Working with this type of fabric was daunting as it frayed and pulled terribly plus it was rubbery-like. I serged the raw edges to ease fraying but when it came to gathering the bubble skirt section which I did using a zig-zag stitching over thin crochet cotton as opposed to 2 or 3 rows of basting, the pressure foot would push the gathers ahead. The neckline, sleeve and waistline is piped using leftover satin.


Oliver + S Bubble Dress


I’ve seen the Bubble Dress made from fabulous and expensive designer fabrics but since nothing of that calibre shows up in my local fabric store, I bought some orchid crinkled dupioni-looking with silver bling accent home dec fabric costing about the same a deli sandwich to make another dress. The fabric would be perfect made up as cushions for a couch or bedroom drapery but my guess is a 5 year old will think it’s the height of princessly fashion. Having learned a lesson from the last go-round using home dec fabric, this time I made pleats instead of gathering the skirt section. The lining is inexpensive cotton from my stash and the piping is made from a package of silver bias binding with cotton knitting yarn as the filler.

In addition, knowing that the Bubble Dress only goes to size 5, I attempted to redraft the pattern to size 6. Looking at the the distance between the tracing lines for size 4 and size 5 , I guesstimated what that same distance might be for size 6. I have no training at pattern drafting but I think my method may not be too far off.

The fullness of the fabric and the tucks made the skirt extra poofy. Fun! With a pair of sparkly silver stockings and maybe the addition of a sparkly silver shrug, this dress will be perfect for the holiday season next year.


Oliver + S Bubble Dress


So there you have it, my reasons why the Bubble Dress is my favourite go-to pattern. It’s sweet on it’s own or can be morphed into anything you or your little Sweet Pea desires. I still plan to make more Bubbles adding big side pockets or perhaps inset pockets to the skirt, colour blocking both the bodice and skirt as well as turning the bodice into a sundress style. The possibilities are endless. So is my stash.

On my Bubble Dress Pinterest board there are examples of the Bubble dresses I’ve made, some that others have made, plus inspiration to make other “Flipped” Bubble dresses.

Thank you so much Deb for all the inspiration!


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  1. Sharon K

    Deb these are all so beautiful! But my favorite is Coco Chanel, so gorgeous! Well done on all these! (I can’t believe you sewn 8 just like that, you are incredible!!)

  2. Wow Deb! That is some serious pattern love and fantastic sewing. I can’t go past Coco but the jewels stuck on the cushion cover fabric actually makes a truly lovely dress too. Your daughter is so lucky to have you dressing the kiddo and we’re lucky to have you for inspiration!

  3. janice

    Deb – “my Moriarty”…cracked me up!!!

    So now another Bubble dress moved to the top of my list – thanks for all your inspiration!

  4. Michelle

    I’m amazed by the variety of beautiful dresses-all from one pattern! I’d say you’ve successfully left Moriarty at the bottom of the cliff. 😉 Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Wow! Such lovely and different versions! I think the one mixed with the fairy tale dress is my favorite. I will definitely have to check out this pattern!

  6. Such fantastic creations….and so different!! All from the bubble dress…. LOVE IT!

  7. Wow Deb, you are amazing!! I can’t choose a favourite, they’re all so gorgeous!! Bubble Dress Queen!

  8. Bubble dress heaven!
    You sew so many lovely versions (I can’t even pinpoint a favorite). She’s such a lucky girl 🙂

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