Clever Charlotte’s Olivine Dress (pattern review)

When Erin from Clever Charlotte asked me to review one of the patterns in their Autumn/Winter line, I didn’t have a hard time choosing. Picking the Olivine Dress, with its gorgeous pleating in the bodice, and original contrasting pleats in the skirt, was a no-brainer.

I went for one of my favorite color combinations (grey + chartreuse). The solid fabric is Kona Coal (bought at SewMamaSew), and the contrasting fabric is Squirrel Run from Birch’s breath-taking Camp Sur line (bought at SewFreshFabrics).

Having previously made their Chickadee Blouse, my expectations for this pattern were high. Would it have the same perfect patterns, and excellent instructions?
Well, it does. The patterns are as clear as patterns can get, spaced out well over the entire surface of the paper – a real luxury for those of us who often work with Japanese pattern books 😉

The patterns are a real feast for anyone interested in pattern making (and origami, for that matter): the structure of the bodice is highly ingeneous, yet a lot easier to assemble than one might fear at first sight. The instructional video is very helpful here, but not even absolutely necessary.

As complicated as this dress may look; anyone who can make a basic dress, can make this Olivine. While it is not difficult to assemble, this is not a quick project, though. Merely cutting pattern and fabric pieces takes quite some time, as the outside of the dress alone is made out of 16 different pieces. To this, you have to add the pieces for the lining for bodice and skirt. I myself decided not to use lining, as with Kona cotton, I already chose a very heavy fabric. So instead, I just cut a facing for the neck line. I finished the hem of the skirt with fusible interfacing (‘dubbelzijdige Vlieseline’ for the Dutch readers) instead of stitching it. I also shortened the skirt by a few inches, as I like dresses to be no longer than the knee (just my personal taste).

I estimate that the dress took me somewhere between 5 and 6 hours to make. So this is obviously not a pattern for an everyday play dress; this is one for special occasions. But on those occasions, what an head-turner it is!


20 thoughts on “Clever Charlotte’s Olivine Dress (pattern review)

  1. Wow, that is a beautiful dress and very clever design with the lines from the bodice continuing to the pleats on the skirt!
    But I wonder why they have folded the bodice instead of just making the bodice in 4 pieces?? Does it not give a lot of extra unnecessary fabric inside? Or is there a meaning that I can't see from the little photo of the pattern?

  2. I also wondered about that. But if you use separate pieces, you also have a lot more cutting and serging to do. Folding is also how I'm being taught in formal pattern drawing class, so I guess it is the professional way of doing this.

  3. Hi An and Mie! It's Carla, the pattern-drafter half of the Clever Charlotte duo. I used flat pattern techniques to make this pattern but have dreams of getting to passable draping skills someday when time allows. An, terrific post and I especially love the fabrics you picked!

  4. Ha ha, good question! I put on the dress right before the photo shoot, then I take pictures, and by the end of the session it's generally all in wrinkles. I just walk and never look back ;-p

  5. It's sooo cute. 🙂 As a mother of two little girls and a big fan of sewing I often find inspiration in similar photos. Looking at them what immediately came to my mind was my favorite fabric store called King Textiles here in Toronto where I usually find everything I need to design my own clothes and the next pieces in my collection will definitely be inspired by the dress shown in these pictures. 🙂

  6. What a beautiful design…and, yes…clever! I love the simple lines and the pops of contrasting fabric!! I love your fabric choices (and choice of model) 😉 Too, too cute.

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