The Lena shirt dress

(Aargh!) *pulls hair out* <screams into pillow>

That was me when I was making this Lena dress…

It’s a pattern I got from Wear Lemonade a while back but never made. At the time the PDF patterns were €2.99 each so I just couldn’t resist!
So why the frustration? It’s my fault more than anything. It was the fabric I chose to use – a beautiful spun polyester drapey thing – which looked amazing but was awful to work with!

Firstly the print! I hadn’t realised how much of a repetitive pattern was going on – it looked like it would just be quite random when I bought it – so there was a failed attempt at pattern matching at the seams… It also moved like crazy when cutting and sewing. Pins hated going through it. Oh and the worse bit? It basically refused to press. I swear it was impervious to my iron! 

Now normally that wouldn’t bother me too much. I expect some difficulties when working with fabric this slippery but Wear Lemonade and their style of sewing require a lot of pressing in order to make, well, any of it.

In a simpler fabric (a cotton lawn maybe) this dress would’ve come together easy peasy. It’s a lovely simply designed shirt dress with a dropped waist pleated skirt. It has a thin collar, breast pockets and in seam pockets in the skirt and uses French seams in the bodice. It’s generally quite cute and I loved the RTW version they had on sale with the eyelash print fabric. I kept the pattern pretty much the same (I cut myself a size 40) and took out another 3 cm at the waist seam to shorten it slightly.

As it is, it took me ages. Most of that time was spent pressing the darn thing! I finally got there after much effort and was it worth it? I dunno…

The problem with a lot of patterns I pick out is that I’ll love the line drawing and even how it’ll look on the model/ sample garment but would they always suit me and my figure? Probably not. It was the same with the Lexi dress I made from Named Clothing. I think I forget just how wide my hips really are and that I should never wear clothes which don’t cinch in at my waist!


It’s not terrible but it’s definitely not my favourite dress… Oh well. I’m planning to hack the the pattern into a playsuit anyway and maybe I’ll like that more!

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1 comment

  1. Congrats on successfully matching the print. When I was draping the first attempts at my 1930s dress I used a poly fabric called “Whipped Cream”. It was a pebbly kind of crepe. What a nightmare. It was the hardest thing to put pins through.

    I’m surprised your poly fabric was so resistant to ironing. Perhaps the reason the fabric was on sale had something to do with the difficulties you encountered. But now you’ve got a pretty dress so all that work was worth it.

  2. I think it turned out very sweet! I have been working with some fabric like yours, that just wouldn’t press or take to pins very well. I ended up using a lot of clips instead!

    I think it looks great on you! But if you wanted to move the waist line up a bit, I don’t see why you couldn’t shorten the torso, bring up the skirt and just add a couple of inches to the bottom on the next one.

  3. As I was reading this post I wasn’t expecting to see something so nice at the end of it! I think it looks great and the playsuit idea sounds like a good plan.

  4. Congratulations on powering through , Am sure I would have been tempted to throw it it the bin way before I got it finished , it’s beautifully made , but sadly I do agree with you that it’s not perfect for you – I have also fallen for a pattern which I am convinced will look the same on me as the drawing – look forward to seeing the play suit .

    1. Thanks. It was worth powering through and finishing it even with the disappointment of the final fit/ style issue. My height and hips do not lend well to drop waists! (Must remember this for future…)

      1. You have to be proud of your determination and you have gained experience in dealing with devilish fabric ! Am sure your play suit adaptation will be fab , can’t wait to see it

  5. It is a cute dress. It matches your hair! I’m not a fan of the drop waist myself. Maybe if the top was more fitted it would be a bit more flattering to a girl with hips (this is why I avoid them!)

    1. I think I’m gonna steer clear of drop waists in future! I think a more fitted bodice would definitely have helped in this case but I think it’ll take way to much alteration to get this pattern anywhere close to something that’ll look good on my figure… 🙁

  6. I don’t think the dress is that bad on you, but you have to be comfortable in it. I’m still learning what I like to see on my own figure. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m of a mind that any body type can wear any style and it is just about making tweaks to make it suit the individual. My thought is that nipping in the waist and removing a little of the volume at the bottom would improve it to your liking if you tried again.

  7. I think it looks awesome and totally worth it (hm..but easy for me to say because it wasn’t me who put in the time and effort! )! Fitted designs are traditionally more flattering but drop waist has its own distinct look too. I have in the past worn a belt at the waist for a drop waist dress and made it look like a tiered skirt design. I like how you choose garments with different shapes/lines, it adds uniqueness to your creations.

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