Price: £49
Sizes 816
Skill level: OOO (tricky if you don't have experience on sewing in zips)

A paper pattern by vintage dressmaking expert Maria Pulley, and fabric ready to make 50s inspired tea dress.

Echino fabric in linen and cotton, a pattern with sizing guide, instructions with charming diagrams. Instructions and size chart, fabric, 50cm conealed zip and thread and interfacing.

The dress has a princess line bodice and half circle skirt with optional collar (either peter pan corners or a sharper collar). The bodice sits higher than your natural waistline for a more flattering fit. Includes 3m of fabric in a choice of designs. Ideal intermediate sewing project sewing knowledge required.

50s tea dress tutorial

Pressing the paper pattern and the fabric with an iron, I cut out the pattern pieces using paper scissors. There are 12 pieces altogether, a front and two back skirt pieces, 3 front bodice pieces, 4 back bodice pieces and two neckline facings, after glancing through the pattern, it all seemed quite straightforward. I'd chosen to make the collarless version.

The fabric in this kit has a very large repeat, so I made sure the birds were in a good position when laying the skirt pieces on to the fabric. Pattern matching however had to go out the window in this case. I pinning and then when I was happy with the positioning, cut out all the pieces. With all the pieces cut out, I then stay stitched the centre front and back panels of the bodice section and snipped the edges. I joined the side panels to the bodice centre front and then again with the back panels, with a 1.5cm seam allowance, easing in the princess line curves as I went.

50s tea dress tutorial 3

I stitched down to the dot on the back seam, leaving it open for the zip and then across each shoulder seam, finishing the raw edges with pinking shears or zig zag stitch.  I turned over the armhole seams, pressed then top stitched down.

50s tea dress tutorial 3
50s tea dress tutorial neckline

Next came the neckline, so after ironing on the fusible interfacing, I joined the two pieces at each short side, pressed out the seams, then zig zagged the raw edges all around the facing outer edge.

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Pinning it to the neckline with the right sides facing was a bit tricky, but everything seemed to match up really well at the side seams. Keeping to your 1.5cm seam allowance helps in matching up the pieces so I find theuse of a magnetic seam guide quite useful in this case.

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tea dress tutorial

I attached my neck facing, clipped all the curves, pressed it towards the seam allowance and then back on to the machine to understitch all around. (Finally I seamed down each side and suddenly my garment was starting to take shape.

skirt panels
dressmaking tutorial - tea dress

On the lower section, I stitched the back skirt panels together up to the dot, checking that I was sewing the centre back seam, it wasn't too obvious at first which was which. Then, sewing the front to the back at the side seams and zig zagging the edges and pressing them flat open. I then attached the bodice to the skirt part, leaving it open for the zip at the centre back seam and lastly finishing the raw edges, I pressed open the seam.

inserting the zip

Now to the trickiest part, I inserted the zip by tacking it in first making sure to match the waist seam at each side. If you haven't done a concealed zip before, this is not as difficult as it may seem. There aren't any instructions on how to insert a zip on the pattern, so a bit of previous experience or a YouTube video is helpful.

tea dress sewalong

The last thing is turning up the hem by pressing over the hem edge 1cm then again by 2cm, then stitching by hand or machine or in my case I had some bias binding in stock, so I used this to give a really neat hem. I was really pleased with how my dress turned out.