Oliver + S Cartwheel Wrap Dress

Elowyn in her Cartwheel Wrap Dress.

Egg-cellent Attire

I’m not a particularly religious person. Suffice it to say, my favorite thing about church has always been Communion and that has everything to do with the bread and very little to do with the Body of Christ. However, I love Easter. Family, food, egg-dying, egg-hunting, chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and – in the case of my family – Easter dresses!

My family photo album reveals a long tradition of springy, Easter frocks. Pictures of my siblings and I wearing matching pastel outfits and experiencing a wide range of emotion (from devastation to exuberance) post-egg hunt, bring renewed amusement every time they are unearthed.

As such, when Bonnie suggested making the Oliver + S Cartwheel Wrap Dress for Elowyn (the spunky daughter of one of our Block of the Month students, Kelsey), just in time for Easter, I was delighted!

A Wrap Dress with a Twist

An interesting design, the Cartwheel Wrap Dress slips over the head and fastens both in front and in back for a fun twist on the wrap dress! The A-line skirt has lots of flare for essential spinning, and includes an extra panel for the full coverage that a serious egg hunt requires. Details include built-in cap sleeves, a back key-hole opening with a simple button/loop closure, and the option to tie the dress in front (View A) or in back (View B). As you can see, for this dress we chose to show-off the bow and put the ties in front.

This pattern includes sizing for a child 6 months old all the way up to 12 years old (for Elowyn we made a toddler size 3), so we suggest tracing it. That way, it can be used multiple times for the same growing child, or for sisters, cousins, best friends and etc!

Bewitching Bunnies

Though presented with an array of possible choices, Elowyn – an opinionated and precocious three year old – was immediately drawn to the bunnies on Cotton and Steel’s Love in the Air Quilting Cotton in Sky. (How perfect for an intended Easter dress!) And, to supplement her choice, Bonnie selected the Hide and Seek QC in Eucalyptus; also from Cotton and Steel’s Dear Friends collection.

Although technically quilting cottons, both fabrics have a soft and drape-y quality making them an egg-cellent choice for this particular garment. Bonnie mentioned that they were both easy to sew with, not too bulky, and the prints are undeniably adorable!

At the same time, it’s good to note that, because quilting cotton has a tendency to wrinkle badly when worn, making pants or shorts out of this same fabric may not be ideal. However, for a dress, or a nice summery top, a quilting cotton can work just fine!


In addition to a really neat design, this pattern’s method for construction is rather elegant. The bodice is completely lined, so all seams and raw edges are enclosed. Thus, flipping it right-side out requires rolling the dress halfway and pulling it through the shoulder seam. (Kind of like the burrito method.)

Bonnie mentioned that turning the ties right side out was a little difficult. So, take care to read the directions thoroughly when you reach this step.

What’s more, though it is not mentioned in the directions, Bonnie clipped and graded all the seams as well as trimmed the corners on the ties before pulling everything through so as to eliminate any unnecessary bulk. If you choose to use a fabric heavier than a quilting cotton, this extra step is especially advised.

Essential Steps

Though Bonnie didn’t need to make any alterations for the size 3 to fit Elowyn, she commented that any lengthening or shortening of the bodice requires adjustment of the side panels as well.

Additionally, if you choose to use two different fabrics, mentally walk through which fabric you want to go where before cutting out your pieces. It’s not as intuitive as it might seem! Bonnie suggests writing the piece numbers on the instructions themselves so that you don’t get mixed up. The skirt pieces in particular look very similar to one another and could easily get switched around.

While the curved hem on this dress is a little tricky, in general this pattern us suitable for beginners.

A Dress For All Occasions

Last Friday, during her local delivery rounds, Kate stopped by Kelsey’s house to drop off the finished Cartwheel Wrap Dress. Elowyn saw Kate coming, and she rode right over to show off her bike and to inform her that it was her birthday! So, not only does this dress get to be an Easter dress, but a birthday one as well!

As a little girl, my mother had only one steadfast clothing rule: clean and covered. Meaning we couldn’t wear dirty clothes, and -whatever we wore – it had to be appropriate for the weather. As such, my fashion sense was free to run wild, and run it did! I’d wear dresses to fish on the river, to climb trees, play in puddles and – of course – to hunt eggs! I hope Elowyn gets as much enjoyment out of this playful dress as I did out of mine.

And, whatever your traditions, I hope you have a lovely Sunday.

Happy sewing!

P.S. A big thank you to Kelsey for the pictures, and to Elowyn for the excellent modeling!

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