How to: Start the Popover Sundress

finished Popover dressI wanted to find a quick and easy pattern for the orphans’ dresses, so when I found this one from Oliver+S, I thought it might just be the one. I’ve used their new Straight Stitch Society patterns [did I really not take any photos?!] and really love the way they put them together and explain the construction. I figured same people, different name–it’ll be good.

I was right, the Popover Sundress pattern is quick to assemble, the instructions are easy to follow along and it’ll sell you on their patterns.

The pattern is a downloadable which means you are going to have to tape it together to get the full-size pieces. Normally, I hate this and refuse to do it. For the sake of this project, including being able to share it all with you, I did it. I pulled out the clear tape, lined up the grids and taped it together. Just because I did it this once, don’t be expecting me to do it much more. I’ll take tissue paper patterns any day.

Anyway, you end up with three pieces: dress, yoke and ties. They also give you a matching pattern for a doll dress, which I may have to do with my scraps. We’ll just have to wait and see.


I cut out the dresses in sizes 8, 5 and 2 because I have a bunch of this fabric and it needed a purpose.

The pattern tells you to stitch up the sides using a 1/2″ seam, but I chose to do a French seam for better wearability and seam strength. If you already know how to do them, just scroll down a bit while I walk the other through it.

Sewed the sides, WST (wrong sides together) with a 1/4″ seam.


Press with a steam iron to set the stitches. It’s an old-fashioned thing to do, but really does make your seams look better (and, I think, last longer). Turn inside out, press the seam open. This makes it easier and neater when you press the side seams, RST.


Stitch the sides again, a tad over 1/4″ so that you don’t catch the cut edge in the new seam. This makes the seam a bit more than 1/2″, but it totally works for this kind of dress, i.e. not fitted.

If you want to more precise about it, you can either sew a narrower seam the first time, or trim it down after you sew the first seam at 1/4″. Your choice.


 Press the seam to set the stitches, then press the side seams open.


The is what it should like like on the inside–all neat and tidy. I love french seams!


You’ll have this tube sort of thing now, with a notched edge at the top. This is where you’ll line up an edge of the yoke.


First you’ll want to press the yoke in half lengthwise. You can also press in half widthwise if you need to for placement of the label. Then go ahead and sew on any label you want to include. There is no front or back on the dress or the yoke piece, so just put in on the and make sure it lands on the inside (if that’s where you want it!).

I used these lovely labels from Moda because I haven’t found a label for myself yet that I love. Instead I stitch these on, then initial everything. One of the perks of having TLC as my initials!


Matching edges at seam line, stitch yoke to dress with a 1/2″ seam allowance. On unsewn edge of yoke, turn under slightly less than 1/2″ and press.


Fold this around to the back, covering the seam and pin in place.


I prefer to pin from the front and top down for two reasons: I want to stitch from the front, so it makes it easier to remove and top down keeps the fabric from warping on the back and scrunching in the wrong places. Check the back after pinning to make sure that the seam has stayed covered by that turned edge.


Stitch 1/8″ from seam to catch yoke facing, then stitch again 1/4″ from first stitching row.


It’s starting to look like a dress, but I’m sewing int he dark now (as you tell by that picture–the only light is from my machine!) We’ll finish up the straps and hem with tomorrow’s post.

BTW, if you’re making it for our Sewing for the Orphans sewing drive/fundraiser, please email me and I’ll tell you where to send it. And, really, thank you so very much!

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