Making children clothes – and specially dresses – is, quite probably, what I most love to sew. So, it should be no surprise, that I was in the front line for purchasing the Building Block Dress book by Liesl Gibson (the creative brain behind Oliver+S sewing patterns) when it was first released almost one year ago.
I teamed with my sweet and very talented friend Maria João in order to reduce international shipping costs, and we agreed on posting a review of the book once we tested it. Obviously, we all know how time flies, so this post kept being postponed (the book, nonetheless, has been tested a lot!!).
The Building Block Dress is quite honestly the book you should get if you wish to learn more about creating your own patterns – starting from a classic dress pattern (included in the book – sizes 6 months to 12 years) it guides you through all the steps necessary for developing and sewing a dress of your own design. Tempting, right?
There are so many options to choose from – different sleeves, silhouettes, pockets, hems, necklines, closures and lining, all carefully explained by Liesl so that even the most novice sewer can alter/create a dress in no time.
Although the book is primarily written as a sewing pattern alteration guide for dresses, the techniques can be used for other types of garments taking a lot of the guess work it usually comes with altering or creating a new design.
Plus, if you’re lacking inspiration (I know, you don’t), the book includes 18 dress variations to inspire you (a few sneak peeks bellow) …
To be honest, I’ve made/altered several patterns using this book, but have yet to sew a dress! When the book arrived, my girl was rather interested in the concept behind it – if you can imagine it, you can create it (I know, my fault as I was the one that explained it to her), so the book is our go-to-book when we want/need a specific design.
So far, she has requested for blouses with specific elements – pockets and hems always get top marks with her. She’s not very keen on elaborated necklines, so I haven’t yet had he opportunity to try the several options available yet.
For this post I’ve made a blouse following her instructions – she picked the fabric (a soft chambray with dots from Ratucos) and the details – tiny flutter sleeve and a lace band For the silhouette, she picked the empire waist with gathered front.
I persuaded her to incorporate a bit of smocking, just because …
Because of the book’s detailed instructions, it was really simple to make the alterations to incorporate her preferences – I used the set of basic dress pattern pieces included in the book (front, back and sleeve) and drafted the flutter sleeve following the instructions provided (page 66).
My flutter sleeve is slightly narrower and longer than the one in the book as per my girl request (“not to big, please!“) – drafting the pattern for it was very easy and it can be used again in other designs.
Adding the smocking was also quite easy to do – there’s no info in the book on smocking, but it was just a matter of using 3x the final width of the front yoke (and smock as usual!).
I kept the back simple – used buttons all the way through and kept the straight silhouette. For the hem, I added a bit of broderie anglaise (she loves it, so I’m making the most of it while it lasts!).
I’m quite impressed with the potential of this book – it’s great for making the most of your creativity and it has helped me in situations where a pattern was not available or when I needed to alter a store-bought pattern to accommodate my girl requests (I’ve drafted the shorts picture here with the help of the book. The original pattern is from a Japanese sewing book and included straps and yoke).
She’s always so proud of “her” creations with this book as she really feels she’s creating her own design (and she is, indeed).
I have a few projects in the pipeline and I’m sure this will be a book I will be coming back, time and time again. The techniques are very well explained making the creative process a bit more easier – If you’re a fan of Oliver+S patterns you already know you really can’t go wrong with Liesl instructions: everything is flawless and clearly detailed.
Recently a Spanish version of this book was just released – if English is not your main language, you may wish to check that one instead.
Hope you love her Building Block Blouse as much as we did ❤ ❤
Don’t forget to check Maria João review here – I love everything she sews for her twin daughters (as a side note, she just opened her own Etsy shop with the most gorgeous clothes for girls – Miss Mary. Everything is amazing 😉
Thank you for joining me again in this review, Maria João! It’s wonderful to chat and share our passion for sewing (despite the distance that keep us apart) ❤