A Denim Zoe Dress ~ Felicity Fabric Make

I’ve been lusting after a simple, staple denim dress for a couple of years now, I don’t know what was stopping me from making one before, but after seeing this gorgeous quality blue denim that Felicity Fabrics had new in stock I thought this was the perfect opportunity!

This denim that I picked for my next blog post is 8.5oz in weight (a good medium weight fabric, not too light not too heavy) and is a gorgeous mid blue colour. It has a teeny bit of stretch to it and the reverse it just a little lighter than the right side. It washed with no issues and was easy to cut and press as you would imagine for a stable denim… the perfect denim you might say!

Now the pattern I had in mind for my summer denim dress was the Sew Over It Zoe Dress. It has princess seams over the bust that mould in at the hips to form in seam pockets that sit just slightly to the front. It’s designed to finish at the knee, have short or 3/4 length sleeves and a round neckline. It’s also finished with an invisible zip at the back. 

I cut out a straight size 8 which is for a 33” bust, I’m a 32” so I expected to have to take it in slightly here. It’s designed to be closer fitting at the shoulders and bust and slightly looser fitting at the waist and hip, looking at the finished measurements there is about 2-3 inches ease here. 

The construction of this dress is pretty straightforward and I didn’t come across any major issues whilst assembling it. The instructions for the in-seam pockets are very clear and the drawn diagrams are very helpful at showing you the stitching lines. The one thing that did take a bit of time was getting the fit right. Once I’d sewn the pockets in and constructed the front princess seam, I basted all the other seams together including the zip and tried it on. The fit around the shoulders was good, but there was a lot of excess fabric under the bust, round the hips and across my lower back, which is probably meant to be there being a slightly looser fit however instead of looking ‘loose fit’ on me, it just looked like it didn’t fit properly. So I then spent a while pinning the excess out with pins, taking it off, re-sewing the seams and trying it on again. I also ended up altering the darts and making them a little bigger which helped with the bust fit a lot. All in all, I probably took an extra 2-3cm off the back seam for most of the length, 2cm off at each hip, a teeny bit in at the waist and 4cm off the length.

I got there in the end and I’m so pleased with my finished dress! Its a bit more fitted than it’s designed to be but I think it looks better this way, maybe in a lighter weight fabric it would be ok a bit looser but it just looked odd in this more structured fabric. It’s definitely worth taking the time to get the fit right with this pattern, I probably should have made a toile but I’ve sewn many Sew Over It patterns before so I knew a size 8 with a few tweaks is normally good for me.

As this is quite a plain dress I was keen to add a few details to it where I could. Starting with the zip – I only had a bright pink one in my stash so thought well, this’ll have to do! Then I thought why not add a few more pink details?! So I used a pink rainbow overlocker thread to finish all the raw edges, some pretty pink floral quilting cotton for the facings and best of all I used one of the embroidery stitches on my machine to finish the sleeve and bottom hem in a bright pink thread! Now I have to admit this was totally inspired by fellow sewist Joy (@pinkcoatclub) who used this technique on a denim shift dress she made recently. A little light bulb went off in my head and I thought ‘oooh yes I could do this on mine!’. I had a little practice first on some scraps to get the size of the flower right and then stitched it 2cm away from the hem on both the sleeve and bottom hem and I really like how it looks!

It’s quite subtle from a distance but I really like this little detail. The denim fabric was lovely to work with, as mentioned I used some quilting cotton for the facings and one side of the pockets to minimise bulk in these areas, although the denim fabric would probably have been ok as it’s not too thick. This fabric would also make a fab pair of shorts, a denim jacket or even a shirt dress!

I’m hoping to get loads of wear out of this dress come the summer months, I feel like it’s going to be a great smart-casual dress suitable for lots of different occasions as well as something I can ‘throw’ on when I have no clue what to wear (we all have those days right?!). I’m so glad I tied the pink zip in with the rest of the garment too, I absolutely love the finished dress, and maybe I even need some bright pink shoes to match?!

Hope everyone is staying safe and enjoying a bit of sewing time, 

Holly x