The Great Spotted Duck: Sew Over It 1940’s Tea Dress

So, the winner of my Miss Bossy Patterns poll is: the Colette Crepe! (Thanks to everyone for voting). This is good, because I’ve had that pattern for so long and haven’t made it up, despite knowing it will be so nice to wear. I was all set to start making it yesterday, when I realised I had WAY less of the fabric than I thought (I only had 2m, rather than 3-4m); so this is a present for those who voted for the Tea Dress:

ImageThe boat mentioned in my last post!

The pattern is the 1940’s Tea Dress by UK brand Sew Over It – Sew Over It is a fabric shop in the UK who started printing copies of the patterns they use in their sewing classes. I’ve decided to imagine the name like “what do I do with this?” “Just sew over it!” rather than being a play on “so over it”. It’s described as an advanced pattern with an invisible zip down the centre back, with facings around the neckline and sleeve hems, a fluted skirt with a machine hem, a yoke at the waist and three decorative covered buttons at the front.

1940s Tea Dress

Seeing as I haven’t seen many versions of this dress around, I thought I would try and do a detailed review.


First impressions

  • Cute packaging – nice drawings on the front and polka dots :D. Unfortunately no clasp to hold it shut but that’s no biggie.
  • The line drawings are slightly less inspiring (more boxy), and actually have an error – the darts are on the back skirt and the front has the gores.
  • The pattern paper is really nice – thin but sturdy which is good for those of us who trace our patterns as well as those who use the paper itself. I also own the wrap dress pattern and it has the more standard, brownish pattern paper
  • Hand-drawn instructions are a nice touch!
  • The instructions are detailed (and are more aimed towards an beginner/advanced-beginner, I would say) but rather wordy, as you can see below.


  • The design itself is very cute, I think you’ll agree.
  • The pattern pieces have the corners snipped off to help everything line up (Sewaholic does the same), except they don’t always line up. Some of the notches are only 1cm despite a 1.5cm seam allowance, and the bust piece and side-front-bodice piece lined up quite oddly.
  • Good amount of notches for matching pieces
  • Once cut it all went together pretty quickly, despite the number of pieces.
  • It does mention understitching the facing after ironing but doesn’t suggest notching the seam to help it lay flat, which I really recommend doing.


Things I changed

  • I actually used my own sleeve pattern because I know it fits well (and I left off the sleeve cuffs because I didn’t think they’d work on the polka dots – I would have loved to have used a white contrast here).
  • Likewise, I used the back bodice piece from my La Sylphide dress, because I knew it fit well and I didn’t want to have to faff about. I forgot to change the sleeve seam on the bodice pieces again!!
  • Changes from my muslin – I took 1cm out of the central front seam in the top/bust piece, and tapered that out on the waist piece (so the waist seam was the same length)
  • I lengthened the skirt by 10cm – I’m 178cm tall and this ended up just above the knees/at my knees, so many wont have to do this. I prefer my skirts just below the knee so I may add a few more centimetres next time.
  • I cut the back skirt piece on the fold rather than having a seam (seeing as the La Sylphide back piece was cut on the fold) – which worked well except I forgot to take away the seam allowance! So had to ease the fabric in quite severely.
  • Invisible zip went in the side rather than center back
  • Didn’t put buttons on (because I didn’t have any, and again not sure if it would look right with the spots.
  • I used Zara’s tutorial on how to get a crisp triange on the front bodice, which worked really well.

Standing wonky + loose thread on my shoulder, whoops

As for the fabric – ahhh. As soon as I saw this pattern I thought it would look amazing in navy rayon with white polka dots, but of course I couldn’t find it. After moving up here last week, I realised that I hadn’t brought the bag of fabric I bought for the trip (the bag also contained a hammock, which would be perfect between the two orange trees on the property), nor any threads but one spool of black, so I convinced Mr. Guy to take me on a “detour” to Kerikeri (a large-ish town 50 minutes away in the Bay of Islands).

Depsite not having looked up whether there would be a fabric shop there, I lucked out by parking near The Sewing Shop. None of the fabric was particularly inspiring, until the owner said she’d just had a new shipment of fabrics arrive – polka dot rayon! She took me out the back so I could stroke it all. Given my so far unsuccessful hunt for this fabric, I chose the navy colour. Which wasn’t much of a sacrifice because I’m going to go back this week to buy aaalllll the other (three) colours.

ImageI’m picking an orange! Except that all the oranges are on the ground.

I’ve been wanting a pattern to use with drapey fabric for a while and this dress is perfect for summer, despite the long-ish sleeves, and is work appropriate. I would recommend this pattern for advanced beginners as well as more those who are more experienced: although it’s classes as an advanced pattern it really wasn’t that hard.

In terms of construction, I sewed it on my machine (which is playing up like crazy. Perhaps she knows that I’m planning to buy a new machine very soon… or I should just get her serviced) and finished the seams with my overlocker. The pattern is mainly written for people without overlockers so it’s only casually mentioned, and there are a few edges that ended up not being finished.

As always I used interfacing strips down the edges where the zip goes. The sleeve hems are turned and stitched to hide the overlocked edges; the bottom hem is just turned once. I would have preferred to use hem binding but, of course, don’t have any.

All in all – I’m very happy with this pattern. I feel it’s definitely aimed at beginners which is probably good – I can follow my own construction when the base pattern is good, and this is.


Pattern: Sew Over It: 1940s Tea Dress, $23.50 NZD from SewSquirrel

Fabric: Navy rayon with white spots from The Sewing Shop (Kerikeri), 2.5m at $18.50/m = $46.25

Notions: invisible zip, interfacing and thread from stash

Total: $69.75 including pattern, $46.25 without.


Just wanted to share this cool comic for anyone who reads to the bottom πŸ™‚ Something that I fully believe in.


23 thoughts on “The Great Spotted Duck: Sew Over It 1940’s Tea Dress

  1. This is really lovely! The polka dots are so much fun and the pattern really does look great! I love the V-neck and the fact that it doesn’t run all the way down, as I feel a lot of V-neck pattern have that issue/design feature!
    That Bay of Islands looks divine! Those are the detours that are well worth the time to take! Especially if there is polka dot fabric at the end of the trip…

  2. yay! you look so pretty! and yay for J being in the blog too :).. This is one pattern I’m going to aspire to.. eventually…..

    • I actually would really recommend this pattern (and the wrap dress – have almost finished it too). Although it seems like I had a few issues, they were minor and it’s still a well-drafted, cute pattern! And I am definitely lacking in patterns that I can use with drapey fabrics.

  3. Yay a win! Feeling better about sewing now? I hope so because your polka dot dress makes me want ALL THE NAVY POLKA DOTS! πŸ™‚

    And yay, I voted fro the crepe (I think, so much voting, haha)

  4. I’m not a polka dot person but I love this on you, it’s like the perfect fabric with the perfect pattern. The dress is really flattering on you – I think you need one in every colour The Sewing Shop sells πŸ™‚

    • I imagine it’s both! Not only is there no nights, but on Wednesday I finish at 3 and Fridays finish at 1pm! Plus Mr. Guy is being a most excellent house husband, making me meals and cleaning up (I am in love all over again)

  5. This is really nice! I wasn’t so sure from the line drawing, but it suits you really well and yes, I agree, the navy polka dot is exactly the ticket for this. I love the length, very flattering!

    • It’s really nice to wear, too. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m so glad I have a pattern I can make up in a really drapey fabric (everything else I have is rather fitted in the bodice). I’m wanting to make one in a much more plain fabric so I can have exciting buttons, too

  6. Pingback: Sew, miss bossy: my finished Crepe dress |

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