Love Notions (affiliate link) released a new pattern today, and I got a sneak peek as a tester!** The Tessa Dress (affiliate link) is a nice addition to my work wardrobe and also presented a perfect opportunity for a “Pinspired” make that I’ve been lusting over for weeks!
Tessa, in its basic iteration, is a classic sheath dress with several sleeve options, two necklines and an optional yoke that can be done in either woven or knit. Here is my basic sheath dress version with short sleeves and scoop neck:
It can also be combined with any of the skirts in the Sybil Illusion collection (affiliate link), which is where my “pinspiration” comes in. Several weeks ago, I pinned a couple of striped “bodycon” or “wiggle” dresses for my spring capsule wardrobe but was hemming and hawing over which pattern to use. I immediately knew that the Tessa, combined with the Sybil pencil skirt would be perfect. And I was right! Here is the pinned dress on the left and my recreation on the right:
I loooove how this dress turned out! I found this amazing fabric at Cali Fabrics a while back and it was perfect for the wide stripes of my inspiration dress.
I knew that I wanted a body-hugging pencil dress, but was having a hard time choosing one. I needed it to have minimal seams so that I didn’t have to worry about breaking up the stripe and doing a massive amount of pattern matching. I thought about using the Nettie pattern from Closet Case files, but the shoulders on that pattern are suuuuper narrow on me.
Tessa was a great option. Rather than attaching the Sybil pencil skirt to the bodice waist with a waist seam, as instructed in the pattern, I moved the pencil skirt piece down a couple of inches (to account for the fact that I wasn’t using a waistband), and cut the entire thing as a single piece.
The back piece is cut in two piece with a center back seam (which gives the dress more shape and makes it easy to do a swayback adjustment), so I did have to match stripes there as well as on the side seams. I was pretty proud of my pattern matching though!
The other change I made on this particular dress was at the neckline. The pattern is drafted with a woven bias tape finish on the neckline, which is a finish that I really like. But for this dress, I knew that I didn’t want visible topstitching, like you get with a bias tape finish. Luckily, the pattern has an optional yoke piece. Rather than making a yoke, i took those pieces and cut them as a neck facing for a completely clean finish on the neckline.
Long story short — love this dress. And I feel super sexy in it! (Granted, the shapewear helps 🙂 ).
But I didn’t just get a bodycon dress out of this test, remember? I also made a basic sheath dress that I’ve already worn to the office on a couple of occasions. For this dress, I chose the shin-length version of the dress, with a scoop neck and short sleeves.
This a really comfortable dress that looks really nice. It’s simple and professional, but the back seams gives it a nice shape, and the knit fabric makes it really comfortable. I think this dress could easily dress up or down also. I’ve styled mine with heels and minimal accessories to wear to my rather conservative office, but I could throw on sneaker, a button down and a hat for a much more casual run-around-town-with-the-kids look. Gotta love a simple dress!
Pattern: Tessa dress (affiliate link) from Love Notions.
Cost: $8.95 (currently on sale for $7.00)
Fabric: Stripe is a heavyweight 4-way stretch knit from Cali Fabrics. It was perfect for this dress. The blue is actually a denim knit “jegging” material also from Cali Fabrics. It might be this one, but I can’t remember.
Difficulty: Advanced beginner.
Techniques Required: Sewing knits, attaching bias facing, hemming knits, setting in a sleeve.
Modifications: On the blue dress, none other than length alterations to the bodice based on my measurements. On the stripe, I used the pencil skirt from the Sybil collection (affiliate link), and turned the yoke pieces into a facing rather than doing a bias bound neckline.
Fit: Pretty good. The shoulders are still a little narrow on me. Tami did widen them by about 0.5″ during the testing phase because they were too narrow on everyone. The final version is still a tad narrow on me, but seems to fit everyone else great in the shoulders. Guess mine are just broad!
Pattern Format: PDF. But it’s a really manageable PDF file. I think that the pattern pieces are about 28 pages total, so not huge.
- Great, simple silhouette that can be dressed up or down.
- Very office appropriate.
- Lots of options, particularly when combined with the various skirts from the Sybil collection.
- Center back seam makes alterations easy.
- Surprisingly quick sew. I averaged 3-3.5 hours from taping to final hem, which means that others will breeze through it in an hour!
- Pattern pieces have the bust, bust apex, waist and hip marked for easy peasy vertical alterations (which I need)
- The sleeveless finish was a challenge during testing, and still isn’t perfect. The sleeveless version is either finished with a band or you’re instructed to draw and sew a dart to remove excess that was gaping. That may be the way that RTW sleeveless sheaths are finished too though — I’ve actually never examined one.
- The shoulders were still a tad narrow for me, even after Tami widened them. That doesn’t seem to have been an issue for most testers though.
Overall Grade: A-. Solid pattern that checks all my boxes for a good, simple dress for work or play. And the fact that it combines easily with the Sybil skirt makes it almost a one-stop-shop kind of dress.