First up – 1940’s Tea Dress


My first project of Jan 2017 is made and I have to say what a joy to make.  I used the Sew Over It 1940’s Tea Dress PDF pattern, which is recommended for a intermediate sewer.  I made the dress out of this beautiful teal patterned Liberty  sandwashed silk, from Ray Stitch in London.  I have had this in my stash since last summer and was waiting for the moment that I was brave enough to make something with it, without making a hash of it! This would have been criminal, not to mention an expensive mistake!  So I waited patiently for a little bit of experience with similar floaty fabrics and silk.  I will share some of those makes with you soon, which include a silk lined faux fur coat and my eldest daughter’s prom dress!

img_2155Sufficiently confident, I decided that the 1940’s Sew Over it pattern would be a great dress for this fabric.  I’ve had my eye on this pattern for a while as I like a bit of vintage style and this dress is perfect.  It’s also not too vintage so that it remains very current and – I think – timeless.  A great pattern for a handmade wardrobe but also to support slow fashion.  This baby will be a staple in my wardrobe for years to come!

How did I get on with the pattern and fabric you may ask?  Well I can hand on heart say that the instructions were extremely clear, with sufficient references and clear diagrams.  I purchased the PDF pattern and this was very easy to download and print off, using the instructions provided on the Sew Over It website.  I’m fairly new to PDF patterns and even though I like getting a new pattern, particularly one in a fancy box like the Named pattern packs (yummy!), PDF’s are cheaper and instantly downloadable for those eager beavers!!  Also if you make a mistake or rip the paper, like the clumsy clot I am, you just print off the part destroyed again.  Voila!

img_2124Now is it true to measurements? Answer is yes!  Well for me anyway, but to give you an idea of what I’m working with, I’m a 5ft 2 inch, 30 something lady(!), curves in all the right and wrong places (!!), with a traditionally pear-shaped figure, short torso and short legs!  Also rocking a generous B cup to-boot!  Most of the time I need to shorten at the waist and the hem about 3 inches on patterns, but with this one all I had to do was length 1cm at the hem!  Yes indeed, minimal adjustment and maximum impact! Shocked? I was!  The pattern is probably designed to be above the knee, but I preferred at the knee.  I traced the pattern pieces using swedish tracing paper from Creative Industry, which is a revelation.  It’s so flexible and fabric-like that you can sew up the pieces to make your toile and adjust accordingly without tearing. Saves on time and well worth the investment.

Once I was happy with the fit of my toile, I went on happily cutting my fabric.  I had 2.5 metres of the Liberty silk (137 meters wide) and used the full 2 metres required for the pattern.  Minimum wastage, which was great as I find sometimes I’m left with excess fabric with some pattern requirements.

img_2130As mentioned above, the instructions, references and diagrams were well written and easy to follow, making the process of sewing the dress very straightforward.  All I had to contend with was the silk itself however, even that behaved itself with very few ARRRHHH(!) moments.  This only happened when I forgot to start the seam a little further in to stop the fabric snagging in the machine!

Talking of seams, the pattern suggested zigzag stitch or overlocking the raw edges.  As it was beautiful silk that would fray over time, I decided to spend a little more time on these and decided on french seams.  Overlocking or zigzagging would have been fine too, but french seams are much neater for floaty fabrics.  I know it’s lovely on the inside of the dress as well as the outside and that makes me smile even more wearing it!  Other than that I followed the pattern instructions as written.


Overall, I’m so pleased with the result and love the rolled up sleeves and the buttons on the centre front.  Very cute.  The panels for the waist nip you in nicely and hide any lumps and bumps, whilst the skirt flows over the hips making a flattering fit.  Can’t wait to wear it out – perhaps with a cardi as it’s freezing here at the moment!  Please share what projects you are doing for Jan and if you have any questions about this project, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.  For now, happy sewing………

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16 thoughts on “First up – 1940’s Tea Dress

  1. I have had the pleasure of seeing this with my own eyes and it is a real masterpiece. Perfect work and an excellent blog. A star in the making !


  2. Wow you have done so well the dress is lovely and suits you down to a tea no pun intended! Also I’m impressed with you modelling skills and your blog. M&D xxxx


  3. A lovely dress Sarah. You look amazing. You’ve obviously inherited you r nanny Kerr’s dressmaking skills!! Well done.

    Love Aunty Joyce xxx


    1. Thank you Ruth. It’s a lovely pattern. Would be straightforward I think to lengthen the bodice if needed. See what the tulle looks like. If you need any help happy to assist and look forward to seeing your version 😊


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