Completed :: Tessuti Eva Dress – à la Downton Abbey perhaps?

My finished Eva dress
My finished Eva dress

It’s a frustrating bitch of a thing. I’m talking about my weight. To be more specific… my apparent inability to lose it. I don’t eat anything with sugar in it, I don’t eat any grains, not even rice or quinoa or buckwheat or any of those “OK” grains, except once in a blue moon – like maybe once a month, and then quinoa, or buckwheat. I don’t eat any dairy at all. I buy organic fruits and vegetables, and now, even organic meat, thanks to Hagens Organic Butcher opening near me. I sleep like a baby, and I try to drink plenty of water, although that’s an area I could do much better in than I do, especially in the cooler months. So what gives???? Clearly  not my weight! Only thing I can think of that’s having me fail abysmally in this project is possibly a) stress (reckon I’ve had plenty of that these past 4 years), and b) maybe this pre-menopause thing. Or a combination of both, perhaps? I don’t know really, but I’m not giving up. Just living each day as it comes, and searching for The Answer.

Now, apart from the fact that I can hardly look at myself in the mirror these days as I’ve gone from a svelte size 8 to an obese size 14, wanna know what the absolutely MOST frustrating thing is? I so desperately want to sew myself some clothes!!! I read so many sewing blogs, and get so inspired by the likes of the lovely Ada Spragg, and the fabulously French Jolie bobines, by the patterns being used, and oh! the fabrics! I sit up at night in bed reading Instagram and Feedly, and oops! I’ll just say that sometimes purchases might get made in the dark by the light of my iPad. And of course, I save everything I love to my Evernote app – you know, for “later”, when I’ve lost the weight, when I feel OK about cutting into my favourite Liberty prints, or my beautiful linens and silks that I’ve collected for when the time finally comes! But for now? It just doesn’t sit well with me, I can hardly face the prospect of investing all that time and precious fabric into something that 1. may not look quite as good on me as it does on the women whose makes I covet, given my Renaissance-esque curves, and 2. what if I finally lose the weight!!!! What will become of all those clothes I’ve made and can no longer wear!!! And so, I navigate my way through the seasons, year after year, flying under the radar, managing to hide my lack of decent wardrobe pieces by adding a fancy new scarf, or getting a haircut, all to cover up the fact that I’m wearing the same “uniform” day in, day out.

Anyone out there know what I’m talking about?

So, this last weekend, I finally got myself over the hump, so to speak. The point at which I’ve usually got my pattern and fabric picked out, and I’m ready to start. The point at which I invariably bail. But this time, we were supposed to go out for lunch at our friends’ newly purchased farm, and I decided I would venture out and make something! I just had to. I’m pretty clear that I can’t get through this next summer without making at least a couple of things I can wear and feel good in. And then there’s the fact that I now sell fabric in my online shop – beautiful linens and gorgeous Indian cottons – so I can justify cutting into a piece of these lovelinesses, knowing I can always get me some more, anytime I want to. So I made myself get past the bailing point, and just start!

Enter the Tessuti Eva dress pattern. I’ve had it on my list ever since it was released, but wasn’t quite sure if all my 152cm were too few for the look. I mean, I didn’t want to look like I’m wearing a sack, or a roomy nightgown. But then I saw Lara’s version, and I took heart. I showed it to my mum, who is my reliable go-to “do you think this will suit me?” oracle who said yes, and then ran it past my husband, who even in his drug-induced post-surgery state gave it the nod, and come Friday night, I had printed and cut the pattern out, and I was ready for a sewing blitz! I made up a muslin, but didn’t do the sleeves – big mistake!

Tessuti Eva Dress - bodice & neckline
bodice & neckline

Saturday morning, the bodice was done. But I had some issues. You know how some linen doesn’t really have a right and wrong side? Well, I cut out the front and back bodice pieces, and, following the instructions, I stabilized the neckline on both pieces, not really paying any attention to which was the right side. When I went to sew the bodice pieces together at the shoulders, I discovered that the left and right shoulders were not, as I naturally expected them to be, symmetrical. One side was longer than the other. No problem, I happily flipped over one of the pieces, and then realized that I now had a problem. Not having any of the fabulous tear-away Vilene, I used this stay tape, and fused it down. Except that now, I had to peel it off the front neckline, and it left a sticky line out past where the neckline binding would cover. What to do. I put it down over another piece of scrap fabric, and ironed it, using a good burst of steam, hoping to transfer the remaining glue onto the scrap. This did kinda work, but now I had a line around the bodice that was a little stiff, and I was worried that it would ultimately go flakey on me. Disaster! Until I had the idea of adding a flat piping under the seam. And violà! It worked! Looks OK, don’t you think? I was quite proud of myself, and snapped the above shot which I shared immediately on Instagram.

So on I went, and sewed in the sleeves. Problem no. 2. In my sizing calculations, I’d decided I was pretty much a straight L for Large, so that’s what I cut. The bit I didn’t think about was the fact that my high bust and everything above – so including my shoulders – is a small, and the shoulder seams drooped right down my arms. After a lot of thinking, and searching through the internet, Craftsy, and my sewing bookcase, where I found nothing really that would help me after the seams were all sewn and overlocked, so here’s what I came up with, my very own “design element”.

Tessuti EvaDress - sleeves
the shoulder & sleeve

I didn’t think I could raise the shoulder, but when I tried it on, and folded it over at the shoulder seam, it seemed to fix the problem. All I needed to do was work out how to sew it so that it didn’t look like a botched job I’d clumsily reworked. I also thought it’d be great to tie the neck piping fabric in somewhere else on the dress, and so ta-dah! this is what I came up with. I think it’s kinda nice. But maybe you hate it? Anyway, it’s what I did. I had to push on, the dress had to be finished in time for Sunday lunch.

The rest was fairly straightforward, and by Saturday evening, I was up to the pockets. The phone rang, and after hearing about the nasty altercation our poor friend Mark had had with a grinder, as he tried to open a padlock, and how he’d spent the night in the hospital, I suggested to my friend that she call off the lunch. Which left me all day Sunday to finish my dress.

Tessuti Eva Dress - pockets

I thought I’d add these beautiful buttons I’d picked up a good while ago at one of my favourite haunts, The Ark Clothing Company in Malvern, to the front of the dress, just to tie in the theme from the sleeves. My contrast fabric has gold through it outlining the flowers and leaves, but it doesn’t show very well in the photos.

fabulous two-toned metal buttons
fabulous two-toned metal buttons – bronze rim, and a more golden shade on the inside part of the button than it shows here

And maybe the fact that while Moshe’s been recovering from his operation, we’ve done a marathon stint of watching Downton Abbey right from the beginning up to the current episode in about 4 weeks, but don’t you think this dress has a hint of the 1920s about it? Or maybe I’m just not used to myself in a midi dress, which I now love! I’ll have to get someone to take some pics of me in it to add to this post, someone other than my darling, who unfortunately doesn’t take terribly good photos of me in my makes. So until then, you’ll have to just imagine 🙂

the neckline with buttons
the neckline with buttons
the front and the back
the front and the back

Pattern: Eva Dress | Tessuti Fabrics

Size: Large bodice, tapering from underarm to Medium

Fabric: Merchant & Mills Linen in Rodeo Blue


Main fabric – 3m at $35.92 p/m = $107.76 (retail)
Contrast fabric for pocket, neckline, and trim – quilting cotton from stash
Thread & buttons – $10.00
Total cost: $117.76 (retail)

Pattern modifications:

  • Added flat piping to neck binding
  • Pinched 1″ on shoulder seam and added buttons and loops
  • Added buttons to front bodice
  • Finished hem by turning under 1/2″ and then another 1/2″

Would I use this pattern again? yes!

What do I like about it?

I love the shape. I thought it would be too swimming on me, but it’s not. The back shape is lovely, although in a smaller size, I think it would be even nicer, and I really like the kind of rhomboid shapes in the skirt panels.

What would I do differently next time?

  • Cut a size medium bust, with small on shoulder/neck, then taper to small from bustline
  • Make the sleeves in the muslin so I can see how they will sit.
  • Use stay-stitching around neckline instead of stay tape, or buy proper tear-away tape.
  • Also, next time I’d use a different fabric for the pockets, the quilting cotton is rather stiff, and when I put my hands into them, I hear a swoosh.
  • Lift the sleeves higher onto the shoulder.
  • Recut the neckline so it’s a smidgeon smaller. It tends to slide off my shoulders a little.
photo-bombed by Tommy and Java
photo-bombed by Tommy and Java




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