Clever Charlotte

Olivine Dress Tutorial, Chapter 1, with Video!

Olivine Dress, TutorialsErinComment

Someone around here got a new iPhone a few weeks ago and is quite excited to start posting some sewing videos. What better time to start than the present, with the first installment of our Olivine Dress tutorial?Today I cover a few preliminary matters, then move on to assembling the Main Skirt, complete with pleating and pockets. Chapter 2 shows you how to pleat the Main Front Bodice and attach the Bodice Lining. Chapter 3 will cover the zipper and other finishing steps.

Please note that I am not planning a step-by-step breakdown of the entire pattern. Rather, I'll highlight many of the steps and zero in on some of the trickier parts in greater detail. I should also add that I will probably take some steps out of order from the written instructions.

Before jumping in to the tutorial, however, I think there is a critical, often overlooked first first step to sewing any pattern:

Olivine tut cuppa
Olivine tut cuppa

So grab yourself a hot cup of tea, some animal crackers (my favorite!) and settle in to give your pattern instructions a good read. Or, at least, a hearty skim-through. I'll wait...

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Ok, with that out of the way, let's get started!

Fabric Selection:  Here are the fabrics I am working with:

Olivine Tut 1
Olivine Tut 1

The gray and chartreuse green taffetas are my main and contrasting fabrics, respectively. These have a lot of body, which will hold the creased folds on the skirt and bodice nicely and will add fullness to the skirt. The gray fabric has a tone on tone flocked floral/bow motif for a nice, subtle touch of "flair". For the lining, I chose the cotton polka dot fabric you see here, which is a standard quilting weight. A cotton lawn or voile or any other lining fabric that would feel nice against delicate skin would work here too.

Seam Finishing: Since the Olivine Dress is fully lined, you wouldn't ordinarily need to be so concerned with finishing all your raw edges. However, since the taffetas tend to unravel quite readily, this was a good opportunity to dust off my serger. You'll see  in these photos that I serged most of the edges on the taffeta pieces before I started sewing them together.

Olivine tut2
Olivine tut2

I used a continuous piecing method that made the process go fairly quickly since you just feed in pattern piece after pattern piece and cut apart the chain once you are done serging all the edges on one side. Cut the pieces apart and finish them the same way on the second side, and so on. Note that I turned off the knife on my machine so I was sure to not trim away any of the seam allowance.

Taking the 15-20 minutes to finish the edges at the start not only saves me a lot of time later, it has the added bonus for you at home to be able to see the edges more clearly in my photos. :)

The Main Skirt's Front Panel: Now, on to the main event. There are a lot of pieces to the Main Skirt--and yes, unfortunately, that mean a lot of cutting.  But totally worth it, I think!

The front of the Main Skirt has 7 pieces. Lay them out in order first, then start sewing them together along their long, straight edges (let's assume right sides together unless I say otherwise, OK?).

Olivine tut3
Olivine tut3

Now let's pleat the skirt.  Here's where the video comes into play!

[Ok, so what did you think of the video? Helpful? Confusing? Am I gigantic bore? Let me know!]  

In case you need to see it in static mode, those are my skillful hands below pinching and pleating the first and third pleats...

olivine tut6
olivine tut6

Here's the front panel now pleated and basted:

olivine tut9
olivine tut9

The Skirt's Back Panel: There are four Main Skirt Back pieces, which are sewn together in pairs like so:

Olivine tut5
Olivine tut5

Now you may be wondering, "Charlotte, what is up with those funny little trimmed corners at the bottom of some of the skirt pieces?"  Those are intended to help fold up the bottom hem when the dress is assembled.  See how the lower part of the seam joining these Skirt Back pieces sort of pops up a bit?  It makes pressing the seam allowances a little tricky, but you'll understand why they are there later.

Sew the Pockets:  Here is what the Skirt Back panel looks like with the Pockets sewn on either side seam at the waist:

Olivine tut4
Olivine tut4

Clip to the stopping point at the bottom of the seam (indicated by the dot on the printed pattern), then press the Pockets outward, away from the skirt.  Do the same with the Front Skirt panel of the Main Skirt:

olivine tut8
olivine tut8

Complete the Main Skirt: Line up the two Skirt Back panels with the Front, with the Pockets opened out to the side, and sew around the Pockets, then down the side seams of the Back + Front.  

olivine tut10
olivine tut10

This photo shows how I've basted the Pockets to the top waistband of the Front Skirt panel, and how I've pressed the seam allowances below the Pocket open.

olivine tut7
olivine tut7

Press all your seams well and set the Main Skirt aside, you are done for now!

It's probably about time for another cuppa tea, so go put the kettle on.  The Bodice tutorial will be coming up next.

Happy Sewing!

~Erin