Pattern hacks

3 Tessa Sheath Dresses (Love Notions). Polka dots, a mash and color blocking.

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”.

Source: Website

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 its 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.

That’s me! read here

You can also see the the Sybil Illusion skirts I made on my channel in this video below:

Very Wearable muslin

Now, back to the Tessa Sheath! I made a straight size Large, for my test version, no modifications for my hopefully wearable muslin. 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 measurement on designs for knits because I need to consider how the vertical stretch of the fabric might affect lengths. Well, yeah, 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. The difference is 1″. 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.

Wearable muslin! love it in conjunction with the dark red boots.
Very wearable muslin
Red and black Prince of Wales knit

Polka dot pattern mash up Tessa Sheath

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 imposible!

Overlapped bottom piece that replaces the swing piece or flounce

To see exactly how I did this, including easy mitered corners, have a look at my full video about this pattern mash up.

A belt disguises non matching dots at the waist!

Color blocked Tessa Sheath

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 bodyโ€™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.

Seam allowance added whilst cutting
My color choices

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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  • 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.
Back pattern pieces. See the “dart” taken out from the center back tapering to nothing on the sides.”

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 mid section 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:

DISCLAIMER: I was provided the pattern without cost, as an ambassador for Love Notions. I Purchased my own fabric for all of these versions. My reviews are very honest.

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6 replies »

  1. Karina, this is fabulous! I just made my first Tessa sheath dress and love it! I can’t wait to try something like this!!! You inspire me so much!! Thank you!!

  2. WoW WoW WoW what you do with that simple Sheath Dress is Amazing. All views are wonderful and inspiring but that color block dress took my breath away <3

  3. Hello Karina, I was watching some of your older videos. I fell in love with a dress that I think you could use this Tessa dress and do a similar hack that you did in the 4/23/17 video ( version #3 ) with the fluttery small flounces at the bottom of your dress. I think it is so beautiful. Please consider doing this hack and showing us how to create the flutter flounce at the bottom of a sheath dress! I would love it! And Iโ€™m sure LN would too.

    • Hi Betty. I have shown how to draft a simple half circle flounce on to anything and its on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9pP3aYeqlw
      This can be applied to the bottom of any dress and all you need is the circumference of the bottom where you want to attach the flounce to. Alternatively, you can use the Tessa bodice and add the Sybil Illusion skirt (Dropped yoke flounce) an have the same look without the maths ๐Ÿ™‚

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