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Holly’s Zen Garden Eve Dress!

The Eve dress pattern by Sew Over It is definitely one that’s been on my to-sew list for a good while now. I don’t often make ‘dressy’ dresses as I worry I won’t get very much wear out of them, preferring to sew more daytime dresses or everyday wear. However, I decided to make an exception when I saw this beautiful fabric. Even though I had no upcoming future plans to wear my envisaged dress too; I had never felt like there was a more appropriate time to make a gorgeous dress. 

The fabric I settled on is a stunning Lady McElroy crepe called ‘Zen Garden’. It has a pale cream background and is covered with beautiful light pink and lilac blooms. It’s very pretty but quite sheer, so it’d be fine for a gorgeous lightweight summer robe or blouse, but I knew I’d need to wear a slip underneath it for a dress. It’s very soft and super drapey, so I thought it would be a good weight and drape to compliment the style of this dress.

I made a straight size 8 in the Eve Dress, I usually make an 8 in Sew Over It patterns and can normally get away with tweaking the fit as I sew the garment up. This pattern has a reasonably forgiving fit as it is a true wrap dress, with pretty gathers at the shoulders to provide shaping at the bust, a gorgeous flounce sleeve and a lovely dipped high-low hem. There is also a second version which has longer straight sleeves and a level knee length hem. I had a wedding guest outfit in mind for this make so there was no question that I was making the flounce sleeve option! I just think it’s so pretty!

I used pins and scissors to cut out my pattern pieces, the fabric was fairly slippery but I managed ok. I left the front bodice pieces attached to the paper pattern piece until I absolutely needed them to avoid any stretching out of the front neckline which is cut on the bias. As you start to assemble the front bodice before any ‘staying’ is done to the neckline I decided to staystitch the front neckline edge which isn’t in the instructions but I thought this would be sensible to try to minimise any stretching out. As I began assembling the pieces I noticed the fabric does like to fray so I trimmed and overlocked my edges as I went along. I practiced on lots of scrap pieces before overlocking any edges for real and in hindsight I should have used a 3 or even 2 thread overlock as even though the four thread has worked fine, it is just a teeny bit bulky for the fabric. 

The construction for this make is actually pretty straightforward, the difficulty more likely being your fabric choice, as the Eve looks best in a drapey fabric to really show off the pretty sleeve and floaty skirt. The Zen Garden crepe fabric I used was an ideal weight and drape for the Eve, and it pressed fairly easily too on a low-medium heat. The neckline is finished with stay tape which keeps it nice and stable and prevents it from stretching out or gaping, there’s no fiddly bias tape to apply or facing to finish as it’s just simply turned over and top stitched down, making it one of the easiest neckline finishes ever! 

The bodice and skirt are constructed separately and then attached together at the waistline, leaving a neat little gap for the waist tie to be inserted through. The waist ties are reaaallllllyyyy long, but worth the effort turning through as I think they look so nice in a bow at the waist! You could definitely shorten these though if turning ties through isn’t your thing! Once the dress was constructed, I left it to hang for a good 24 hours, then laid it out flat, folding the skirt in half, and then trimmed off any excess that had stretched out of shape from the curved hem. I’m 5′ 1″ but didn’t actually take any length of this pattern in the end. I was expecting to have to take off a good 2-3 inches, but when I tried it on I actually really liked it more midi length! It was a bit tricky to hem as I wanted to try out my new rolled hem foot on my sewing machine but it was actually quite tricky in this fabric! Even though I practiced loads on scraps. I ended up missing the raw edge in a few places but it wasn’t that noticeable in the end so I just decided to leave it. I think next time though I’ll just go with a double folded hem or pin hem!

The only alteration I made to the pattern was to take 2cm off the inner shoulder seam edge on the front bodice piece, this just made the V-neck a little bit shorter so it sat a little closer to my body. Alternatively, you can just wrap the dress over your body more or less to change how close fitting you want it to be! The only other thing to mention is that the fabric requirements I found quite generous, I managed to fit a size 8 into 2.5 metres of 140cm wide fabric when the pattern suggests 3.2 metres, so if you’re a little short on fabric or want to just buy exactly what you need, I’d recommend measuring out your pattern pieces first to see if you can fit them into less!

I’m so, so pleased with my finished dress, it’s definitely one of the most fancy dresses I’ve ever made! I’ve worn it here with a nude slip underneath as the fabric is pretty sheer but I don’t think it notices or detracts from the dress at all! It’s also very comfortable to wear and I feel super special twirling around in it! 

Even though I would say this is more of an adventurous beginner/intermediate pattern, it’s only the fabric that makes it that little bit more tricky. It would definitely be a lot simpler to sew up in a cotton lawn but the dress would just have a little bit more body to it. I really enjoyed the process of sewing this dress too, I took my time assembling all the pieces together to try and get as neat a garment as possible that I will certainly cherish for a long time.

I literally cannot wait to wear this to the next fancy event I get to go to – it’ll be ready and waiting to go as soon as one occurs!

Thanks for reading all, and if you fancy seeing what else I’m sewing up at the minute you can follow me over on Instagram at @holsstevens. 

Happy Sewing!

Holly x