my favorite oliver + s pattern: emi from just add fabric

We are delighted to welcome Emi to the blog today. She is a talented sewist who’s going to share her favorite Oliver + S pattern. We are so happy to have you here, Emi!

Oliver + S Carousel Dress

Hi, I’m Emi from Just Add Fabric and I mostly sew for my two daughters. You might have seen most of the garments I make for them on Instagram. I started sewing a little over three years ago now, and like many people I know, I like to say that Oliver + S patterns pretty much taught me how to sew.

The first Oliver + S pattern I bought and made was the Hula Hoop Skirt. I remember reading and re-reading the instructions to make sure I’d gotten things right, and in the end I was rewarded with a very cute reversible skirt. Not something that I expected to be able to make so early on. My older daughter wore it lovingly, and now my little one is enjoying twirling around in it.

Oliver + S Hula Hoop Skirt

Every time I make an outfit using an Oliver + S pattern, I think to myself, “This is absolutely my favorite one. There are so many possibilities!” I don’t think I’ve ever made “just one” of any of the patterns I own. And now here I am, over 25 patterns later and still feeling like my collection is nowhere near complete. Looking through my girls’ wardrobe, I think my most sewn pattern has got to be the Class Picnic Blouse and Shorts. Particularly the shorts. These are the first three I ever made, and as you can see, I didn’t always know what I was doing, haha.

Oliver + S Class Picnic ShortsThe shorts are the perfect length for my girls to wear under their school uniform, and I made five pairs last year, of which three have survived. This year so far I have made another 3 pairs, with 3 more cut out and waiting to be sewn. They are also great for wearing under dresses. At least, that’s how my girls like to wear theirs.

Oliver + S Class Picnic Shorts

Oliver + S Class Picnic Shorts

But. My favorite pattern–at the moment, at least–has got to be the Carousel Dress. I made this one to wear with the shorts, funnily enough.

Oliver + S Carousel Dress

What I love most about Oliver + S patterns is the timeless quality of the designs. I appreciate the clean and simple lines of the garments that allow you to play with colors, prints, trims and fun stitches. So when I saw this dress, I saw endless possibilities. That said, the version I am sharing with you here is a very simple one, made with just one fabric–but I think it is special enough to merit taking the spotlight.

Oliver + S Carousel Dress

This is the perfect beginner pattern. There are no buttonholes or zippers (in fact, I opted for ties in the back rather than using the thread chain, which I have consulted in the past when making the Garden Party Dress).

Oliver + S Carousel Dress

The idea of darts in the sleeve might seem intimidating, but actually it’s quite easy when you follow the instructions. As with all Oliver + S patterns, the instructions are detailed enough to guide a first-timer through the process without being overwhelming, and the illustrations are always immensely helpful.

What made this pattern extra special to me was the suggestion of using French seams, making it just as pretty to look at on the inside as it is on the outside. I love the 1/2″ seam allowance because it makes doing the French seams very easy. If you are using a lightweight fabric like I did, I highly recommend it.

Oliver + S Carousel Dress

I’ve got my next dress planned out already, and for that one I will be using a contrasting fabric for the cuffs and the bottom panel, as in the images from the blog post introducing the pattern. I might try a different fabric for the pockets, the way Brittney did in her post here. In fact, it was her beautiful versions of this dress that inspired me to get the pattern in the first place!

I am also envisioning a Carousel Dress using lace, inspired by Frances Suzanne’s version here to make a dressier Carousel for the winter holiday season. It’s just a matter of finding the perfect lace!

And if you are a piping fan, you could definitely go crazy with the seams! Or at least do some lovely topstitching in a contrasting thread, as seen here.

I hope you are now just as much a fan of this dress as my girls and I are! I would like to say a big thank you to everyone over at Oliver + S for having me today. Happy sewing!


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  1. Nicely done, Emi! I feel the same way when I sew an O+S pattern…so professional and like it’s my favorite one!

    1. Emi

      Thank you, Audrey! I have learned so much from sewing with all my O+S patterns!

  2. Emi

    Thank you so much for having me! It was so much fun going through all my O+S patterns — though it was dangerous, as it made me realize that I still want so many more 😉

  3. Love the dress! My girls wear shorts under their dresses too. I feel the same way about every oliver and s pattern I have sewn!

    1. Emi

      Thanks, Emily! You can’t go wrong with any of the O+S patterns, I feel. And the shorts are really perfect for wearing under dresses — although they wore theirs today to go blueberry picking 🙂

  4. Thanks for mentioning our Carousel Dress in your post, Emi!! We’re looking forward to seeing your dressier version around Christmas!! Now you’ve made us want to sew this pattern again. . .

    1. Emi

      Your Carousel Dress was so pretty and definitely inspiring! I hope you do sew this pattern again. I’d love to see what you do with it. All the clothes you make are always so beautiful.

  5. Oh such a lovely dress Emi. And I love your fabric choice, it’s such a delicate one!

    1. Emi

      Thank you so much, Nelleke! The Woodland Clearing fabric is so beautiful to touch as well — and really lovely to sew with. It made the whole process so enjoyable. If you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend it. 🙂

  6. Beautiful! Thanks for contributing this post, Emi. It’s lovely to have you here. xo

    1. Emi

      Thank you so much for having me, Liesl! I think (I hope!) it’s pretty obvious that I am a big fan of all the O+S patterns. It was such a pleasure to participate in this series. And sewing with the Woodland Clearing fabric made it even better!

  7. Linda M

    This is one O&S pattern I have not sewed yet even though I have the pattern. Love your version. Really a darling version.

    1. Emi

      Thank you so much, Linda! It’s such a sweet pattern. I know you will enjoy sewing it as I did 🙂

  8. Fiona

    Thank you, Emi for sharing your children, and your sewing. I know exactly what you mean about the pattern you master/mistress becoming the current fave! I’ve made a few Carousels, and Swing Skirts. My current fave is the bodysuit from the Lullaby Layette. Extra work but my mind is humming with ideas sass it up.

    1. Emi

      Thank you for your kind comments, Fiona! The Swing Skirt is on my list — my daughters are huge twirly skirt fans, so I know I will have to sew a few soon. I love the Lullaby Layette bodysuit, too! They make wonderful gifts, and my youngest loved wearing the pants when I first made them!

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