building block dresses sewn by frances suzanne

June 28, 2017   /   byRachel Le Grand  / Categories :  Feeds

We are delighted to welcome Ashley and Emily from Frances Suzanne back to the blog. They have stopped by in the past to share their two favorite patterns (the Puppet Show and Music Class), to talk all about tucks, and to share their sewing for a trip to Disney. Now they have a post all about the Building Block Dresses they’ve sewn for their nieces. Here they are.

Hi all! It’s good to be back sharing with the Oliver + S community today! Summer sewing for us often includes grand plans, with the potential for having more time to sew. Building Block Dresses always enter the picture when discussing what to sew next. It seems we have become quite the picky “pattern customers.” You see, we like a lot of patterns…. Yet, more often than not, we find one minor thing we would “do differently” if we were to sew the said pattern.

Thankfully, Liesl’s book Building Block Dress: A Sewing Pattern Alteration Guide walks us through those visions with clarity, ease, and with a much greater pace than if we were left to our own devices–not to mention, the success rate of the finished garment is exponentially increased when “going by the book” rather than by our mere brainpower.

To date, we have sewn six Building Block dresses–each differently styled by design elements or fabric choices. We would like to think it isn’t obvious the same pattern was used to begin all of these projects.

Our oldest niece, EA, has been the recipient of three Building Block Dresses.

1. A casual, empire-waist dress with Peter Pan collar and notched, short sleeves.

Oliver + S Building Block Dress

2. A princess-seamed navy dress with capped sleeves, a tie collar, pleated circle skirt, and fun pockets.

Oliver + S Building Block Dress

(If in doubt, this is the post that gives our most complete and comprehensive review of the book.)

3. An heirloom Easter dress with lace, lace, and more lace. We also made a slip, using the building block dress pattern as a guide.

Oliver + S Building Block Dress

CL, the middle child of the nieces, has also been the recipient of three Building Block Dresses.

1. A sleeveless, striped dress with pleated circle skirt using upholstery fabric.

Oliver + S Building Block Dress

2. A princess-seamed floral dress with capped sleeves, a shaped collar, pleated circle skirt, and fun pockets.

Oliver + S Building Block Dress

This dress actually used all the drafted pieces from EA’s princess seamed, navy dress except for the collar. We perused the Building Block Dresses on Instagram and on Flickr, but did not find another sewn version of a shaped collar, as shown in “dress variation F” and featured on page 111 of the book.

That just would not do! So, we decided to rectify that . . . and make one of our own. Disclaimer: there probably has been a Building Block Dress made with this type of shaped collar since the release of the book; we just did not find it in our searching.

3. A sleeveless, knit nightgown (using the slip pattern from EA’s heirloom Building Block Dress).

Oliver + S Building Block Dress made into a nightgown

Shelley’s post about sewing the Building Block Dress with knits was extremely helpful!

We are thrilled to have “alteration knowledge” when we want to change a particular styling detail. It gives us the freedom to take any pattern and use the alteration methods in the book to create a different variation. And, once you draft certain elements/pattern pieces in a size range, you can use them for multiple garments!!!

That is what we did with EA and CL’s dresses here and here. Same pattern pieces, same size . . . the only change was the collar and fabric selection.

Oliver + S Building Block Dresses

Or, when we used EA’s heirloom slip pattern to make CL’s knit nightgown. You cannot get much different than those two garments!

LG, niece #3, has not been the recipient of a building block dress . . . yet. Her time is coming though, especially since several variations of pattern pieces have been drafted in sizes 4 and 5. And you better believe we are going to put them to use when she hits that size range! The work is done at that stage. The sewing fun can commence!

This is a syndicated post. Please visit the original author at Oliver + S

You may like


Simplicity 8105

A quick post about a quick tee I made for Liddy.The Simplicity 8105 I saw this pattern on Lara’s instagram and thought it was perfect for my girls too.I sewed up the largest size (a 14 I think) in a stretchy cott…

read more

#ebonyTee – just two more (for now)

Yes, I know! MORE Ebony Tee’s…haven’t I got anything better to do? Well yes (actually no – so if you have any pattern suggestions please let me know)…but these are different as I’ve added one inch to the length so I can wear them with my tighter pa…

read more

The Buying a House Blouse


Hello, everyone!  It’s been quite a while since I have posted anything.



The main reason for my online disappearance is the fact that I am now a homeowner!  That process has kept me rather busy, and the move, etc., has not left much time for sewing, let alone blogging.  I was actually without internet for a couple of weeks which was rather refreshing.


Of course, I wanted to make a new outfit for the occasion, but there was not a lot of free time prior to closing.  But I was determined!  


I have been wanting to make this blouse for years.  I often pull out scraps of fabric along with the pattern, hoping that I can squeeze out an entire garment, but it never has worked for me.  Until now!


The leftovers from this skirt and this dress were tucked away in a drawer, and while the dye lots do not match, I think I managed to make it work.  The neck tie was made with the leftovers from the skirt, and the rest of the blouse (which is a slightly more pigmented and heavier weight cotton) was cut from the remains of the dress.  There were quite a few people who thought that the look was actually a dress, so I guess the difference is not terribly obvious.


These photos were taken about an hour after signing all of the paperwork (in my old neighborhood).  I was exhausted, but very happy.


I really began looking in earnest over a year ago, so it was a huge relief to finally be done.


It has been quite an adventure, and my new living space is still not “finished,” but Valentino and I are definitely settling in, and I am finally getting back into a routine – one that will definitely include many more sewing adventures!



Blouse:  Made by me, Butterick 4985

Skirt:  Made by me, Butterick 4792
Shoes:  Born “Kharen”

read more

What to Pack For a Day at the Beach With a Toddler

It’s not summer to me until we’ve been to the beach. Being by the water has always been so restful and healing for my soul. The older I get, the more of a beach gal I seem to become. I’m happy to report that Piper shares my love of the water and has loved the […]

The post What to Pack For a Day at the Beach With a Toddler appeared first on Love Lola | A Life & Style Blog.

read more
Jan 2016 Accuquilt Sale