first day of school dress tradition

We are delighted to have Gail back with us on the blog today. You might remember her lovely rainbow Hide-and-Seek Dress and color blocked Carousel Dress. Sheโ€™s stopping by to share a tradition sheโ€™s been doing for several years. And with that, here is Gail!

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

Hello! I’m Gail from the long-abandoned blog, probably actually. I do still sew sometimes, especially for important milestones. Back in 2013 I wrote about my favorite Oliver + S pattern, the Jump Rope dress, and I’m back today to share how that dress has become a first day of school tradition for my daughter.

When Lila started preschool five years ago, I wanted to make her a special dress for her first day. And when it comes to special, the Jump Rope Dress is really where it’s at. So many beautiful, professional details resulting in such a charming little dress. There’s just something about this style–that collar and placket and sash–that made it the official back to school dress for me.

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

I must admit, this one was only worn a few times…quite possibly just this once, so I skipped it as a first day dress when she started 4-year-old preschool the following year. But I gave it another chance on her first day of Kindergarten.

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

This one was worn only slightly more, but as I’ve said in the past, that has never bothered me. I love everything about this pattern, both the process and the finished product, so it’s well worth the hours of sewing just to see her wear it on the first day of school. This pattern takes some commitment, but each dress has been a labor of love for me.

Here’s her first grade Jump Rope dress:

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

By first grade the Jump Rope dress had officially become a tradition. I remember this one being such a joy to sew–after making it many times, everything came together so easily and precisely. I finally felt like I had mastered the pattern. I typically choose small scale prints for this dress, which I think work really well to highlight all those great details. This version was one of my favorites, in a Cotton + Steel floral. And she actually wore it!

The tradition continued with her second grade Jump Rope dress (and my first bigger scale print, from Leah Duncan):

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

This dress has seen the most wear by far. Last spring she chose it at least once a week. It’s not a requirement, but seeing it worn so much is certainly a treat. And the sewing, while still time consuming, has become effortless. I love knowing a pattern so well that the entire process feels like second nature.

And that brings us to third grade.

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

Who knows how long she’ll want to wear a handmade dress on the first day of school, but this pattern only goes up to size 8, so like it or not, this tradition is winding down. Luckily the sizing seems fairly generous. This is her second year to wear a size 7, so if we can squeeze her into the 8 two years in a row, we can finish off elementary school in first day Jump Rope dresses. I’ll joyfully make them as long as she’ll wear them!

Thanks so much Gail!

If you enjoyed this post you might also like our Christmas dress tradition post.




  1. Stephanie Spann

    Love this tradition!

  2. I’m pretty sure the Bistro Dress and the Building Block Dress Book techniques mean you can keep this up to University and beyond! First day at work dress? ๐Ÿ™‚
    I always love seeing this annual blog post of yours and I’m always inspired to drop everything and sew a cotton dress!

  3. Love it! Such a great tradition!

  4. Indeed a great tradition. I really like the belts on each dress and the pockets, the dark blue color is my favorite one, would love to make this for my sister’s daughter and will present on her bday as a gift ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I love your Jumprope dresses, Gail!!! You choose the best fabrics, and they are all just superb. I’ve never made this version of the pattern – maybe I’ll start when Maggie starts kinder next year. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Mary Inchauste

    Received my Building Block Dress Book yesterday! Just love it & can’t wait to get started sewing up the ideas. I’m also in love with the Popover Dress pattern!! Making up a bunch of dresses to donate from my “overstock”! Turning out super cute. (I’m slow, but can still finish one in under an hour.)

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