The Sweetheart Dress: sewing the Ottobre Bubu Dungaree dress

So, this is me sharing a make from last May, and the photographs are from back then too. Lauren definitely doesn’t fit this one anymore! It’s the Bubu Dungaree Dress from Ottobre 1/2019. I meant to share this last week, but I completely forgot! Never mind. Here it is:

Ottobre Bubu Dress in upcycled chambray shirt

Doesn’t she look a little cutie? I love dungaree dresses, which I’m sure won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following this blog a while. I’ve made three Cleo dungaree dresses for myself, so it was about time I made something similar for my baby girl.

This dress started with a gift from my neighbour, who was clearing out her craft room and gave me a couple of bags stuffed with fabric, patterns, notions and thread. A lot of it will be passed on to charity but there were a few gems, including an old Woolsey chambray shirt that had worn at the collar, and which my neighbour had already cut into pieces. Sizable pieces. About the right size to make something for a small person. What better in a denim-like fabric than a cute little dungaree dress? I set off to look through my stack of Ottobre pattern magazines.

This particular pattern is pretty plain straight out of the magazine, but I liked that as I saw it as a blank canvas. Here’s the technical drawing:

Bubu dress technical drawing

As you can probably see it’s got a different front pocket and closure to what I went with. I can see the value in having velcro as little kids can get dressed themselves easier, but to be honest I didn’t want Lauren being able to take her dress off whenever she wanted. Public nudity ahoy!

Buttons and button holes were an easy substitution and really change the look of the dress. I also added a line of topstitching around the top of the dress because I love making life difficult for myself the look of contrast topstitching.

The pattern pocket is pretty plain so replacing it with a heart shaped one was an easy way to jazz up the dress. I just freehanded the shape and cut two out of some spotty quilting fabric scraps from my stash, then sewed them right sides together leaving a small gap for turning. I topstitched around, then used a pale blue thread to sew invisibly onto the front of the dress on the lower part of the heart, so it still functions as a pocket.

If I was making another heart-shaped pocket I’d probably take my stitching a little further up the sides when attaching it, as the tops of the pockets flop over a little when worn. Alternatively, perhaps some interfacing would help to stiffen them. Still, lesson learnt, and the pocket still looked cute.

I used the same spotty fabric as the pocket for the facing inside the dress, as you can see below:

The back of the dress has elastic at the waistband which is really useful as it extends the life of the dress for a fast growing little person. Or at least, it would do if Ottobre made their dresses longer! I thought Scandinavian people were meant to be tall? Or maybe they just like knicker-skimming dresses? Whatever the reason, this dress was only just long enough on Lauren when I made it, so she wasn’t wearing it for more than a couple of months.

When I tried the finished dress on Lauren the straps kept falling down, so my final change was to add a wide belt loop to the back of one strap, keeping them both together behind her back. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have taken a picture of this, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. It was beautifully topstitched too, honest!

Ottobre Bubu Dress in upcycled chambray shirt

All in all I really enjoyed making this dress, and my only annoyance is that I didn’t check the finished length before cutting the fabric, as I’d have made it longer if I had. It was particularly satisfying to make the changes that really elevated the look of this Ottobre Bubu dress, and I loved turning and old and worn garment into something fresh and new. Upcycling FTW!

I can definitely see more upcycling in my future. I have a big stack of clothes up in my loft that are ripe for being given a new lease of life. Hopefully you’ll see some of them here on the blog before the year is out.

The deets

Pattern: The Bubu Dungaree Dress from Ottobre Magazine Spring 1/2019

Size: 74 (Lauren was 12 months old at the time I took the pictures)

Fabric: upcycled chambray shirt gifted to me by my neighbour, plus contrast fabric using offcuts of quilting cotton from my stash.

Modifications: Swapped plain pocket for a heart shaped pocket, used buttons rather than velcro, added a loop to straps to hold in crossover position at the back, lots more topstitching.


  • Pattern: £0.00 (magazine subscription gifted to me by my parents)
  • Fabric: £0.00
  • Notions: £0.00 (buttons and elastic from stash)
  • Total: £0.00

Yay, that was cheap! Definitely another major bonus for upcycling. Thrifty, environmentally friendly, and best of all, FUN!

Do you enjoy upcycling garments? What’s been your most satisfying upcycling project?

Coming on Friday:

#OneYearSewn winter 18-19

For something a bit different, and continuing with the theme of sewing sustainably, I’m going to have a go at the #OneYearSewn wardrobe analysis. I didn’t sew a great deal last winter, but from what I did I’ll delve into what’s been getting worn and why.

I’ll also be sharing a bit about my general sewing plans and what I’ve been up to. I’m hoping the rest of the month will be me sharing some projects I’ve written up for Minerva using fabric they gifted me in return for posts. However, I’m waiting for them to do some behind the scenes website stuff before they all go live over there and I can share them here. Here’s a few teaser pics. Watch this space!


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