#Craftyrox, PenSeb&Rox, Sewing for Girls, Uncategorized

Glass Onion Dress in Poplin

Mabel Madison Mondays // Glass Onion Top // April Showers // pensebrox.com

Today, I’m guest posting over at Mabel Madison showing off Pen’s dress that I whipped up last week inspired by spring and an adorable umbrella print euro poplin from Mabel Madison. The dress is a modified Glass Onion Top (by Shwin Designs) and I thought I’d take a moment to discuss the changes a bit more.


This post is all about the pattern I used to make the dress and fitting. I talk about the snazzy euro poplin I used to make Pen’s modified Glass Onion over at my Mabel Madison guest post. The fabric is just one of many poplin yards I purchased for making kids clothes. Be sure to check out the post to see all the photos and read some of my thoughts about the euro poplin.

Pie // pensebrox.com

Instead virtually waving my arms around trying to explain what goes through my mind when looking to buy pattern, I made a pie chart. Most of my pattern buying is a fine blend of:

Idea – Is it a pretty unique design or something I don’t want to bother with figuring out on my own? The core design plays a huge role in my pattern buying decision and can gloss over some flaws in my next point…

Easily Estimate Fit – Does the pattern listing have a size chart, some clear photos, and maybe even a few line drawings so I can quickly visualize the intended fit? This is where the “idea” comes into play, I won’t put much effort into figuring out the fit with a raglan pattern but depending on the design I might like the pattern enough to go around asking questions.

Cost – I’ll be willing to give a super cheap (or free) pattern a shot that is lacking in some area way more than a $12 pattern that I had launch a Sherlock Holmes style investigation to find out what the back looks like.

Everything Else – I do take other things into consideration when pattern buying but things like the tutorial, hand-holding, or layers , while nice, are just icing on the cake for me. I learned using paper patterns so the printing just what you need scheme seems like witchcraft to part of my brain!

Glass Onion Top // pensebrox.com

The version above was the first Glass Onion Top I made with a modified back. The smallest pattern size calls for a 20″ chest, Pen has a 18″ chest in this photo which lead to it fitting wide overall. Not the patterns fault, I just wanted to check the fit without any changes to size. The retro vibe I think lends itself to a boxier feeling so I opted not to grade down the sizing but I made sure to adjust the neckline a bit on later versions.

Glass Onion Top // pensebrox.com

Out of the box, the design has an overlapping “petal” back with two options and that is what initially sold me on the pattern.  It looked different from the standard cross-over back pinafore blouse but had the same features: cute retro feel, simple assembly, and no closures to fiddle with. I purchased the pattern right at the start of cold weather season and despite loving the back design, I opted to modify it slightly to a single piece and gathered. Not having the overlapping pieces also save a bit on fabric!

Glass Onion Top // pensebrox.com

A fun trick I found with my Glass Onion Top experimentation is that you can get away with a really minimal scoop on the back piece IF you use a knit fabric for the front bodice. I love using woven for the front skirt, back piece, and knit for the rest. You can easily finish off the neckline with knit ribbing in lieu of the facing the pattern calls for.

Mabel Madison Mondays // Glass Onion Top // April Showers // pensebrox.com

Mabel Madison Mondays // Glass Onion Top // April Showers // pensebrox.com

The Glass Onion top is a prime example of what I look for in a sewing pattern. Attractive design that is a bit different, I can generate a pretty good mental image what the pattern would look like on my own kids with the information given, and a bonus is that it can easily be modified according to my whims. Like this version I made using poplin from Mabel Madison.

Mabel Madison Mondays // Glass Onion Top // April Showers // pensebrox.com

With this version, I based the back piece on comments seen in the official Shwin Designs Group on Facebook. Pen currently has a 19″ chest which gave some wiggle room to have the less roomy back bodice and still be able to get it over her head without closures (or a huge toddler battle). I think the fit is the perfect middle ground between being able to comfortably get the top on without closures, a breezy warm weather fit but no extreme sliding or gaping. I do think I’ll be able to still get this on her when she has a 20″ chest but the little extra ease we have right now works well for dressing a wiggly toddler. I’m considering adding an exposed zipper to the back if it ever become problematic getting the dress over her head.


The back modification and adding patch pockets were not the only changes from the pattern. I fully lined the bodice, sleeves, finished those seams with binding, and added extra width to the skirt pieces so I could enclose the side seams with a french seam. I like how a clean french seam becomes nearly invisible. Something about working with a nice fabric like euro poplin makes me want to emulate the techniques on the vintage clothing I love collecting.

Mabel Madison Mondays // Glass Onion Top // April Showers // pensebrox.com

Throughout the day it became obvious how much Pen liked the dress and how comfortable she is in it. I have a second cut waiting for sewing time using the same changes and will assemble it this week. I also have two Maggie Mae’s (also by Shwin Designs) in the works.


If you did not come here from my Mabel Madison Monday post, be sure to check it out. The poplin I used for this version of the Glass Onion Top is genuinely pretty awesome AND you see my favorite photos of the dress.

1 comment

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top