Saturday 18 April 2015

How To: Vintage-Style Tea Dress

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When it's not a midi or a maxi it's tea length. Perfect for the turn of the weather when it's not hot yet, but the wind is warm and the sun's out.. And for feeling like a lady.

Tutorials take a lot of time & effort to create, and I choose to make mine available for free. If you enjoy this guide, you can support me with a donation that feels right for you, here.

photo 0 Tools.jpg
2 m of fabric (I used a light wool suiting blend with some stretch to it), a bit less of interfacing if you need extra firmness  |  Pins  |  Fabric marker  |  Scissors  | Iron-on hemming tape  |  Thread & Sewing machine  |  20 cm regular zipper  |  Not pictured but you also need some ribbon for the shoulder straps

I. Calculate your waist radius by adding about 20 cm extra to your waist measurement and use this awesome app (I made a half-full skirt). The extra will be used to slightly gather the skirt at the waist. My waist is 70 cm, so I did the math as if I wanted a 90 cm waistline, resulting in a 14 cm radius for cutting out the skirt. Repeat with the interfacing. My piece was a bit shorter than the full length of the skirt, which makes no different in the end result. Iron the interfacing onto the skirt (if you haven't used interfacing before, this post explains the process pretty well. The damp cotton pressing cloth is essential for making the interfacing stick).
photo 1 Trace and cut.jpg photo 2 Cut interfacing.jpg
II. Trace and cut out the bustier pieces. I left them a bit long at this point to be sure I had enough to work with. Zig-zag all the raw edges of your pieces.
photo 3 Cut bustier.jpg
III. Add darts to the front piece.
photo 5 sewn darts.jpg
IV. Place the bustier pieces right sides facing and pin the sides. Sew a stretch stitch along the sides.
photo 6 Pin sides.jpg
V. Sew along the curved waistline of the skirt piece with the longest straight stitch setting on your machine. Pull onto the bobbin thread to gather the skirt until it's your actual waist measurement's length. Make sure you've gathered the fabric consistently and sew another straight stitch along the edge to secure in place.
photo 7 Gather the skirt.jpg
VI. Split the bustier back piece in half like this. Zig-zag the raw edges.
photo 8 Cut center back.jpg
VII. Use the iron-on hemming tape to create folds at the edges and press with iron to secure in place.
photo 9 Iron folds.jpg
VIII. Cut any excess off the length of your bustier, zig-zag the hem, and pin onto the skirt piece, right sides facing.
photo 10 Pin bustier to skirt.jpg
IX. Pin the back seam and sew a straight stitch all the way down.
photo 11 Pin back seam.jpg
X. Now for the zipper. Press the seam open and place the zipper, right side facing down, onto the seam. The center of the zipper's teeth should be against the center of the seam. Pin in place.
photo 12 Press seam.jpg photo 13 Pin zipper.jpg
XI. To save yourself an extra step of hand-sewing, fold the ends of the zipper under the fold as you pin it in place.
photo 14 Fold zipper end.jpg
XI. Sew around the zipper on the right side. Once done, cut the center stitch open, giving access to the zipper.
photo 15 Zipper done.jpg
XII. Last steps! Hand-sew some ribbon on for your straps, and fold the hem about 1-2cm, finishing with a hand stitch. Tea time.
photo 16 Sew straps.jpg photo ready4.jpg photo ready1.jpg photo ready6.jpg photo ready7.jpg




  1. This is a beautiful design! How were you able to create the bustier pieces without a pattern?

    1. I just took a couple key measurements (around bust and below bust) and that's pretty much it! It helps when you use a fabric with some stretch so you don't need to get it 100% spot on:)

    2. Thanks, that was very helpful! I'm going to try to make one this weekend :)

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