Thursday, 18 July 2013

Twirly maxi popover sundress hack (+tutorial!)

I couldn't let a Kids' Clothes Week go by without making anything, now could I? And as it turned out, this dress was such a hit, I had to make two.  It's the Oliver & S free popover sundress pattern, hacked with a maxi-length half circle skirt instead of the original A-line. The above twirling speaks far more eloquently than I ever could about the result!

I uploaded this first version on flickr the other day and there were a few enthusiastic reactions, so I decided to photograph the making of the second one in case anyone's interested in doing the same.

So, here we go! Drum roll please...  my Twirly Maxi Popover Sundress Hack!

Before we get to the nuts and blots, a word on sizing. I drafted the skirt piece in exactly the same way as you would draft a half circle skirt, but using my daughter's chest measurement rather than her waist. As you can see in the picture above, because of the way the armholes are scooped out later, this gives a pretty loose fit. This dress will fit her for at least two years! So if you want a closer fit, I'd suggest taking an inch or two off the chest measurement and working from that to draft your half-circle.

I'm not going to explain how to draft a half-circle skirt, because the link above does it perfectly :-)  The thing to remember is that you want to cut it in two identical pieces, a front and a back.

For the popover sundress pattern pieces, cut the size that most closely corresponds to your child's measurements.

OK, ready? 

1.  Cut out your pieces: two each of your half-circle skirt (i.e. each piece is a quarter-circle plus seam allowance), the popover sundress yoke, and the bias straps

2.  Staystitch along the top of the skirt pieces, just inside the seam allowance. Mark the centre front of your circle skirt and yoke pieces.

3.  Align the centres together, with the right side of the yoke facing the wrong side of the skirt.

4.  Carefully notch the skirt seam allowance for approx. the length of the yoke. This will enable you to pin the straight yoke piece to the curved skirt much more easily. (I can't take credit for this excellent idea, it comes from Megan Nielsen's Tania pattern.)

5.  Sew the yoke to the skirt and press the seam allowance up towards the yoke.

6.  Following the popover sundress pattern instructions, fold over the other raw edge of the yoke, then fold the whole thing in half and edgestitch down on the right side of the skirt. This will cover your previous seam and staystitching. As the skirt edge is quite curved, I found it helped to very slightly pull or hold down the fabric as it was going under the needle - it kept everything flat.

7.  This is what you now have: the yoke attached to the top of the skirt.

8.  Grab the popover sundress skirt/bodice pattern piece (you only need the top part) and place the armhole between the yoke edge and side seam of your dress. You'll need to change the angle a bit compared to the original pattern; don't worry, this is just because your skirt is a different shape. Just make sure that the edges of the original armhole line up with the edges of your skirt piece.

9.  Using some chalk or whatever drawing instrument you have to hand, mark the armhole on your dress.

10.  Like so. (But perhaps you will be less messy about it?)

11.  Cut!

Cut the other armhole, then repeat the whole process for the other dress piece. You can now sew the dress together following the original popover sundress instructions, sewing the side seams and attaching the binding to make straps.

And you're done! Now TWIRL, girl!

Or, when it gets too hot for twirling, beat a hasty retreat to your local city beach for some ice cream and water pistol shoot outs.

Anyone else sewing along for the new summer KCW? Whatchamakin'?


  1. This is soooooo adorable!! It looks like it would be so much fun to wear. My daughter is turning 13 this weekend (were does the time go?) so I won't be making one of these. Unless of course you could hack an adult size version. In the heat wave we've been having here in the US I would wear this in a (hot) second and I would twirl too!

  2. Yeah, it's so hot here too, I'd happily wear one! I well aware I've got a limited time frame that she can/will still wear these things, she's already quite opinionated about them! I guess before I know it, she'll either be refusing handmade stuff completely, or insisting on much more complicated stuff. It's such a cliche but it really does indeed go fast, I can't believe she's almost 6. 13 will be upon us in no time! I hope your daughter has a lovely birthday!

  3. This would definitely make a fabulous ninja outfit! Can't wait to see the boy in his ;)

  4. Jo, this hack is such a great idea, and one I must try. My daughter is 6 and a half and so far loves her dresses, especially the twirly ones. Thanks for your lovely comment on the Saltspring dress :-)

  5. Oops, don't know why it posted me as guest! It's Angela :-)

  6. I just showed my daughter this and she is begging me to make her one - fabulous!


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