This morning Nigel took the children out for breakfast so I could finish an outfit for one of James' schoolfriends. It's her birthday soon and I wanted to make her a dress as a present. I don't normally do this but her mother is a friend of mine and has given us binbags full of clothes for Laura, so I thought it would be nice to return the favour with a handmade birthday outfit. Rachel chose the pattern herself from my collection and the Olivia knit dress with pinafore is definitely her style.
I had some lovely check cotton from Dots n Stripes so I used that for the pinafore and used some self-dyed interlock for the underdress. The interlock came from Specialist Sportswear (an Ebay seller). It's gloriously thick, soft and stretchy and although it isn't listed, he does ribbing to match the interlock. I shall be buying lots more!
I really liked the idea of the pinafore/knit dress combo, but didn't like the gathering of the pinafore at the waist, so I re-cut the pattern so that the gathering was omitted. It's definitely better than the original but now it's made up, I think the fundamental problem with the design is that the knit underdress hangs straight down, while the woven pinafore sticks out. It just looks odd! I'm tempted to take in the sides of the skirts to make it more streamlined but will wait until I've seen the dress on before I decide for sure. It may just be that the when the knit is filled out with five year old girl, the outfit falls into place.
But there have been other problems! I had to hack at the pinafore's armholes because the armscye depth wasn't as deep as the underdress'. Too irritating! And I only realised this when I'd topstitched the pinafore's armholes so I just added some binding to the armhole to cover the hack-job. The underdress was just the right length on my son who is a good 10cm shorter than Rachel, so I added a Geske style flounce to lengthen it. Many of the examples I've seen are worn quite short, almost as tunics. They look lovely, but this is meant to be a party dress, so it really needed to be below knee length. I added some poppers to the pinafore (Rachel doesn't like buttons), and it's done.
All in all, the Olivia underdress is a great pattern - I love it, and will be making another one (or even two!) as cute comfy Autumn dresses for Laura. I also love the idea of the pinafore, but wouldn't be making another from the Olivia pattern. Which is, I think, given how few examples of the pinafore appear on Flickr something that other people have also found!