Maggie B’s Ode to Joy Dress



Maggie Bunch has created a new classic with her Ode to Joy pattern.  I love everything about this dress–quick smocking, easy construction, use of coordinating print and the comfort of a pull-on dress or playtop with no buttons to fuss with.  It is smocked front and back with only about 90 pleats sleeve to sleeve.



Ode to Joy was first taught by Maggie as a class project at Sewing at the Beach and she is now offering it as an on-line sew-along class.  She has given several sew-along, smock-along classes, reasonably priced at $25.  They are a bargain at any price.

Step by step, Maggie sews along with you and posts even more detailed photos in the process.   She is also  is available to answer questions.  The class begins mid- June.  Registration is limited so if you are interested, check it out ASAP on her website here.   

I learned so much making this little dress.  Sewing and smocking on a border print requires some special considerations and Maggie addressed them all.   Reading how she adjusts the garment pattern to accommodate the border fabric pattern others was so comforting.  I don’t EVER want to go  through trying to match side seams and the front button closure as I did on CC Jenni Leigh.  Now I can figure out a way to match the print more easily on most patterns.


Note the side seam near the yellow dashed line.


I first saw this dress made up in the same Michael Miller Swan Lake fabric on one of the smocking/heirloom sewing lists and just fell in love with it. I wish I could recall who made the dress so I could thank her for the inspiration.  The dress was modeled by an absolutely adorable,  curly red-haired child.  I HAD to make it. Already, my plate was full to overflowing, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

Locating the fabric required an hour-long internet search.  Everyone, it seemed, was sold out of this charming print. Finally, I located a shop in Washington state which had both Swan Lake and the coordinating print in stock.

Vivian has been adamant that she only likes garments with kitty cats, hearts and rainbows.  To my surprise, the success of the pink bishop for which I had no hope, was due to the fact that there were hearts in the smocking.  Hearts in the smocking?  I can do that!

You can see  that the Swan Lake smocking is heavy with hearts, just what Vivi loves.  I expect she will wear this dress quite happily.  She arrives her on Memorial Day for a week of Nana Camp.  Film at 11.


Meanwhile, I sent the photo of the little red-haired girl wearing the dress to my Rebecca and gave her some persuasive arguments to convince 4 yo Vivi that this was the dress for her.  Yeah!

“Tell Nana no thanks.  I only like dresses with kitty cats, hearts or rainbows.”

Rebecca went to persuasion #1.  “Nana says if you will wear this dress and be happy, she will then make you another kitty cat dress.”

Vivi:  “Tell her to just make the kitty cat dress.”

Rebecca went to persuasion #2:  “Nana really wants to make this swan dress and if you don’t want it she will give it to Eloise (our pastor’s 4 yo daughter).”

Vivi: ” Ok, ok, ok.  I’ll wear the dress and be happy.  I don’t want Eloise to get the kitty cat dress.”

The fine print of that proposal went right over her curly head.  Whew!


10 responses to “Maggie B’s Ode to Joy Dress

  1. Terry Jane Collins

    That’s a really cute dress! I wonder if my 4-year old would like it?

    I have complete understanding of the challenges of sewing with border print. I thought the dress I made with the unicorn border was just perfect until I noticed the five-legged unicorn at center back! Haha on me!

  2. Terry, I’m laughing out loud. I bet there are not many children’s garments with a 5 legged unicorn. Very special! I bet your little 4 yo would love it. Vivi will love the ease of dressing herself without worrying about buttons. And it will be very comfortable. The sleeves are elasticized at the neckline as well as at the cuff.

  3. from Martha Pullen forum: Oh, I love this! I have registered for Maggie’s blog – I cannot join this class, but I will join one in future. Thanks, Janice.

  4. I didn’t think I would be the only one who was thrilled with this dress. I’m glad you have registered for Maggi’s blog. She presents such good tips and techniques there and in her classes.

  5. Doreen Robin

    What a cute dress! I love both the fabric and the pattern. Beautiful smocking. I always enjoy reading your blog and especially enjoyed the ‘Nana Fun”.

  6. Thanks, Doreen! I can’t take any design credit for this darling dress, as it was shamelessly copied–both the pattern and the fabric– from one I saw online. And I am really happy to know that you enjoy the Nana Fun. Sometimes I hesitate to include these tidbits because they seem relatively irrelevant to sewing. But the things children do and say are just so cute.

  7. from SewForum: that is a precious little dress…I hope the swans will be to her liking…tell her cats like swans! lol

  8. I’ll tell her! That might be a good argument for anything she doesn’t like!

  9. Hello. I am trying to register for online smocking and sewing class. But I. Am having difficulty. Could you let me know if there is a spot svailabke

  10. Glenda, I have written to you privately. Maggie tells me that you have successfully registered for this class. It’s great! I know you will learn so much.

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