I really like a sheath dress. It’s my favorite type of dress to make for many reasons:
- The design suits my body shape
- I feel more comfortable in simpler styles
- I love a skirt with no volume on a dress
- They take up little amounts of fabric!
I enjoy making sheath dresses in woven fabrics and knit fabrics, equally. Last year, I started my adventure with the Tessa Sheath dress from Love Notions. It’s a classic style I knew I would make many times and sought out to get the fit right for me by making a “wearable muslin”.
The Tessa Sheath dress has many options, like all of Love Notions patterns.
- Different necklines: Scoop & Bateau
- Sleeve lengths: sleeveless, short and elbow.
- A few extra details: optional front and back yokes special for using contrast fabrics make this pattern fun too.
- I especially appreciate the center back seam that assists with shaping, being this a dart-less design.
- I think it’s really cool that there are lines on the pattern for you to cut a separate bodice that has been designed to match all the skirts in the Sybil Illusion skirt collection. I knew I would surely visit this option!
I had already made several of the skirt options and even wrote a guest blog post for Love Notions you can see HERE. I added a center front separating zipper to the pencil skirt.
You need a structured knit that will hold it’s shape and have some stretch. It’s a fitted design, and the skirt is slightly A lined. The optional yoke pieces can be sewn with woven fabric.
I would not recommend light drapy knits like modal, rayon spandex, ITY and DBP…. although I have made one with Rayon spandex, I lined it and that compensates for the fabric being too lightweight.
This is one of the older patterns and it does not have a Full bust option. However, all patterns at Love Notions will be updated to improve sizing to 5X and a full bust by the end on 2021, and a lot of the patterns have already gone through the update. When patterns are updated, if you own the pattern, all you need to do is download it again from your account, at no extra cost.
The design is fitted with no ease at the bust and minimal at the waist and hips. A medium to heavyweight fabric will cope with the fitted style. This is my favorite type of dress to wear.
I printed a size Large, and I had a suspicion I needed to lower the bust line that was marked on the pattern. I did some flat pattern measurements and knew it, but I never trust these measurements on designs for knits because I need to consider how the vertical stretch of the fabric might affect lengths.
After sewing my muslin, I lowered the bust height by 1″ to match my body. I also decided to have a seam at the back on my waist to deal with the 5/8″ sway back adjustment I need to fit my shape.
I also straightened the side seams so that the skirt portion is not A lined and cut between the knee and midi length for the hem to be above my knees.
VERY WEARABLE MUSLIN
This is my muslin and its a straight size Large, no modifications. The dress on the front fits strangely because the fullest part of the side seam is higher than where it needs to be for my lower apex height. Otherwise, I can wear it with a layer on top and no one will even know! I also have some excess fabric pooling at the small of my back and will need a small 5/8″ sway back adjustment for subsequent versions.
I love this dress and I wear it. It’s a red Ponte prince of wales type print in red and black. This dress served its purpose to determine how it can fit me better next time. Time well spent on my part 🙂
POLKA DOT TESSA DRESS BODICE + SYBIL ILLUSION SKIRT HACK
After adding 1″ above the bust-line, in essence, lowering it while also adding length to the bodice… because I also needed that, I set out to make a mash up of the Tessa Sheath bodice with the Dropped yoke with swing skirt from the Sybil Illusion skirt collection. Because I will have a seam at the waist, it was easier to correct the sway back issue.
I have lengthened all the skirts in the Sybil Illusion collection by 1.5″ to account foe the 3″ height difference I have with the drafted height of the pattern. (Drafted for 5ft5″, I am 5ft8″)
I chose a navy blue with polka dots structured embroidered fabric and will line the dress using the clean sleeveless machine lining technique you can see how to do in video HERE.
I used the dropped yoke skirt patterns pieces and attached them to the bodice, leaving out the swing piece. I cut another piece in the same length and overlapped them on the side, attaching this to the dropped yoke. Cute wooden buttons complete the color combination that I love. Navy and light brown. Dot matching proved impossible!
To see exactly how I did this, including easy mitered corners, have a look at my full video about this pattern mash up.
COLOR BLOCKED TESSA + FULLY LINED
I decided to use the full pattern this time, not without some fun! I have loved color blocking for a long time and have had so many ideas in my mind. This project is actually one of my make nine plans for 2020.
After looking and “pinning” several looks, I decided to become inspired by a dress from Calvin Klein.
I extended the front pattern piece and drew the bust line and waistline. Mind you, I have already perfected these anatomical references on the pattern to match my body’s length (bust and waist heights).
Above you can see on the front:
- Dotted blue horizontal lines mark the bust height and the waist height
- Red lines mark the cut lines I drew free hand the “eyeballing way”
- I wanted the upper piece to fall diagonally from 2/3 down one armscye and to curve to the height of the bust on the other side
- I wanted the second cut to start at the height of the waist line and curve into 2/3 of the width of the bottom hem
- The third cut would start at the 1/2 way point between the waist and the hem and curve to 1/3 of the bottom hem width.
- Blue grain-line marks everywhere!
- The cut lines have little notches to assist in putting all this back together from the different colors
- The colors need to be cut with the RIGHT SIDES OF THE FABRIC FACING UP AND THE PATTERN PIECE FACING UP.
After cutting these lines apart, I will chose colors and add 3/8″ seam allowance to the fabric. This is rayon spanex. Thin and flimsy… but the dress with be fully lined.
For the back you can see:
- It’s simple!
- I will only have one grey shape on the bottom to match the grey shape on the front.
- I folded the center back seam allowance away and cut on the fold.
- I added a waist seam to keep my sway back adjustment that worked so well with the polka dot dress. The fabric is black, it won’t be noticeable and it’s not wrong to have a seam there 🙂
- The black and grey pieces need to be cut with the RIGHT SIDES of the fabric FACING UP and the WRONG SIDE of the PATTERN PIECE FACING UP.
Putting together all the pieces was a lot of fun. I serged them together and then sewed with 3/8″ SA on the sewing machine with a straight stitch. I lined the dress and that gives it the structure and layer it needs.
I really, really enjoyed the process of drawing the lines and looking for proportions on these that would flatter my body. I wanted to avoid slicing my bust and hips in half horizontally. I love the color combination and leaving the black in the midsection and the back. Super fun and you should try it!
You can also watch the process of this dress from inspiration to completion in my “”sewing together” video on my channel. You can also see it on and the fun I had sewing it. See below:
Sew it again? YES. For sure. Now that I have the fit sorted all that is left is to have some more fun with this pattern. It’s easy to sew, has a lot of options, does not use too much fabric and is my favorite style to wear. I recommend 🙂
DISCLAIMER: I was provided the pattern without cost, as an ambassador for Love Notions. I Purchased my own fabric for all of these versions. I produce sewing content independently from pattern brands on my YouTube channel and blog. My reviews are honest and especially around sewing techniques and fit.
I have affiliate links in this post to the pattern company and the pattern. If you click on these links, at no cost to you, I receive a small commission that helps finance my sewing, blog and Youtube channel.
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