This elegant tea dress, featured in The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe by Tessa Evelegh features a floaty bias cut skirt and flirty little sleeves. Use your own body measurements to adjust the bodice pattern to fit your shape and make the same adjustments when you have sewn the bodice shell together and before you stitch on the skirt. The skirt is cut on the bias, which means that it fits neatly into the waistline without any bunchy gathers, yet provides plenty of fullness at the hemline.
- Cotton fabric, 1.15m x 2.5m
- Invisible zip, 36cm
- Matching bias binding, 60cm for armholes; 2.5m for hem
- Hook and eye, small
- Matching sewing thread
- Size 8, Bust 80cm, Waist 61cm, Hip 86cm
- Size 10, Bust 82.5cm, Waist 63.5cm, Hip 88cm
- Size 12, Bust 86.5cm, Waist 67.5cm, Hip 91.5cm
- Size 14, Bust 91.5cm, Waist 71cm, Hip 96.5cm
- Size 16, Bust 96.5cm, Waist 76cm, Hip 101.5cm
- Size 18, Bust 101.5cm, Waist 81.5cm, Hip 107cm
- Cutting guide
- 1 Front bodice, cut one on fold
- 2 Front side bodice, cut two
- 3 Back bodice, cut two
- 4 Front neck facing, cut one on fold
- 5 Back neck facing, cut two
- 6 Back skirt, cut two
- 7 Front skirt, cut one on fold
- 8 Sleeve, cut four
- 1.5cm seam allowance included
Sew a tea dress
1 Download the pattern, print, and piece together. Cut out all the pieces following the cutting guide and transfer markings. Transfer the dart markings from the back bodice pattern piece to both layers of fabric. Pin, tack and stitch the two darts, then press them towards the centre.
2 With right sides together and matching the notches, pin the left front side bodice to the left side of the centre front bodice, then stitch. Repeat with the right front and side bodice. Clip into the seam allowance at the curves, taking care not to cut any stitches. Press the seams open.
3 With right sides together, match the front and back bodice pieces at the shoulder seams and side seams. Pin and stitch. Try on the bodice and make any adjustments. Press the seams open and finish off the raw edges.
4 With right sides together, match and pin the back skirt seam from the hemline up to the position of the bottom end of the zip. Stitch, then press the seam open. With right sides together, match the side seams of the skirt and pin. Sew the seams and press them open. Try on the skirt and make any adjustments.
5 With right sides together, pin the bodice to the skirt, matching the side seams. Pin, tack and stitch, then press the seam open. Finish the raw edges. Insert an invisible zip into the back opening, ensuring that you align the top of the zip tapes with the raw edge at the back neck.
6 Pin two sleeve pieces with right sides together and stitch around the outer edge. Clip the curves and press the seams open. Turn the sleeve right side out and press. Repeat to make the other sleeve.
7 With right sides together and matching the notches, pin the sleeves to the upper part of the armholes, making sure you only pin the lower raw edge of each sleeve to the dress. Tack, then stitch both sleeves. Trim the seams and clip the curves.
8 Make a snip in the seam allowance of the armhole on either side of the sleeves. Press the seams open and inwards. Turn in the remaining raw edge of each sleeve by 1cm and press. Turn the dress inside out. Pin the turned-in edge over the stitch lines you have just completed and neatly slip stitch in place.
9 Make up 60cm of bias binding, or use ready-made, and cut it in half. Find the centre of the first piece and, with right sides together, apply the bias binding around the lower part of the armhole. Start at the side seam and work outwards to the edge of the sleeves. Stitch in place. Turn the bias binding to the inside of the armhole and press. Turn in and press the raw edge, then slip stitch it in position on the inside of the dress. Trim the ends and turn them under, then slip stitch in place.
10 With right sides together, pin one back neck facing to each end of the front neck facing at the shoulder seams and stitch. Press the seams open. At the outer edge, turn and press a 1cm hem to the wrong side and sew in place.
11 With right sides together, pin the neck facing to the dress. Start by matching the shoulder seams and pin, then pin around the front neck facing and to one side of the back. Go back and pin the other side of the back facing, then stitch. Clip into the seam allowance at the curves. Press the seam open, then press the facing to the inside of the dress.
12 Turn in the raw edges of the back neck facing and slip stitch them discreetly in place down each side of the zip. Sew a small hook and eye firmly and neatly onto the inside of the dress above the zip. Hand stitch the hem or finish it using 2.5m of ready-made bias binding.