Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Eva Dress... or the day I accidentally made a maxi dress.

Back in May Oanh posted on her instagram about an Eva dress that she had made, but didn't really like because it was too short for her. She very generously let me try on the dress and even more generously gifted it to me when I (surprisingly) fit into it (Thanks Oanh!). Ever since then I have called it the dress that Oanh made me. It's also a little short on me too, but that's nothing a pair of opaque tights doesn't fix, and so this dress got a fair bit of wear over the winter. It also works well with a long sleeved black shirt under it too.

Due to enjoying the dress so much I decided to make another version, adding a little bit of length, using some (I think Viscose) jersey that I got in the swap in London last year.

So, after trying on Oanh's dress I decided to add 1" of length to the bodice and about 2-3" of length to the skirt, which in theory would add the right amount of length for the dress to hit at knee length.

However, I forgot one vital thing with respect to knits; different knits do not behave the same as each other! In particular, the knit I was using is a 4-way stretch, whereas the knit that Oanh had used was a 2-way stretch...

I stitched up the dress, carefully following the (confusing at times) instructions and then tried it on and was incredibly disappointed to discover that the dress was practically at my ankles! Not good!

The dress was relegated to the naughty corner for a while until I felt I had the motivation to take it apart and fix it (as I still wanted this dress). Before taking it apart I tried it on again and worked out that I wanted to remove 2-2.5" of length from the bodice, so that's where I started. The dress was fairly large all over so I just cut off the overlocked seam allowances, not worrying that the dress would therefore be about 1cm smaller on all seams.

While reconstructing it I also took the opportunity to fix up my botched job of the back neckline. Rather than the confusing binding method that the pattern suggested I used clear elastic in much the same method that is recommended for the Maria Denmark day2night top.

I stitched the dress back together and tried it on again... it was better but still needed a heap removed from the length of the skirt, where I hacked off 4-5" of length. Now I was starting to get somewhere!

One last alteration that I made was to take in the fullness in the back bodice; I did this by adding a seam up the centre back that took out the fullness where the pleat was in the bodice back, but keeping the pleat in the skirt. Thankfully with the solid fabric the seam isn't too obvious.

I'm not completely sold on the pleat in the back. I think there are too many components going on in this dress with the cowl, the drape and also the back pleat. I think it would be nicer with just a standard a-line skirt in the back.

I do particularly like the draping on the front, it add something different from anything else I've seen around. Although my alterations have further emphasised the strange extra pull-lines coming from the edges of the neckline, is that something I should worry about for any future versions?


In these pictures I'm trying out the no-hemming philosophy with knit dresses... and I have to say I'm not completely sold. I've worn it once like this and the lack of hem feels makes the dress feel unfinished and like it's missing something. I will try it once more, but at the moment I'm erring towards hemming it.

Overall I'm pretty happy with how this dress turned out in the end, and have thoughts of making at least one more in a gorgeous floral viscose knit that Kathleen ridiculously generously donated at social sewing last month and I was lucky enough to grab.


  1. I've always loved this dress - the waist details are lovely and we all know I love something/anything with drape! I agree, the pleat at the back could go.

  2. I think you were a classic case of an early bird really.

    The only thing I can see for those wrinkles is that you may need more room at the bust. Or more shaping, such as a dart.


    1. I agree on more room in the bust, just add it at the center of the front pattern piece and not at the side seams. Otherwise, it looks hot!


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