You know when you see a fabric and you instantly know what you want to make? That was the case with this Lady Mcelroy tencel from Felicity Fabrics.
It immediately pulled on my nostalgic strings, taking me back to my teenage years in the ’90’s where daisies, tea dresses and DMs were the order of the decade. Admittedly I won’t go as far as wearing a black velvet choker, coffee shimmer lipstick and tweezing my eyebrows into oblivion; but there’s a lot about the ’90’s fashion that I will always have a soft spot for.
So the two patterns for a match made in heaven for this fabric? True Bias Shelby and the Nina Lee Kew dress, in version 1. I already had the Kew dress ready, printed traced and altered, so it was a no brainer as to which I would choose.
For reference, I made a size 8 with a 1/2” small bust adjustment. As there is only one dart on the tea dress version, I took the SBA into the shoulder as I felt that the gathers at the shoulder were providing fullness at the bust instead of a dart. I could be wrong on this and please feel free to correct me if I am!
I added 1/2” to the front and back pattern pieces at the waist as my waist is very straight. The only other change to the pattern I made was to shorten the hem length by about 2” to make it look less of a 40’s tea dress and add the extra nod to the 90’s hemlines. I think it still needs a good couple of inches lopping off to show off a bit of knee.
It was only when I started using this pattern that I realised just how much you get in terms of design. Views 1 and 2 provide you with 2 very different looks, as well as a skirt option.
The fabric. Oh sooo soft! It is not comparable to many of the Tencel twills that I have used and that are currently available. These have weight to them, and therefore are suitable for trousers. This is closer in nature to a fine viscose challis. It is beautifully lightweight and perfect for anything that would require gathers and drape.
The base colour of this fabric it somewhat of an enigma to describe! I can only seem to describe it in terms of what it is not! …It is not black; it is not navy; it is not brown… Greyish/charchol/taupey colour? I had considered doing a 180degree turn and using it for a Sicily dress, but the print is directional and I couldn’t have lopsided daisies!
I have seen conversations about dark fabrics resulting in little white pulls throughout the garment (clicking), but this wasn’t an issue here at all. I did however use a brand new size 8 microtex (sharp) needle. I always use Schmetz as I find them to be good quality, and used my prym fine glass headed pins which serve me well for a multitude of projects.
I admit, I was initially concerned about all of those buttonholes being sewn onto such a lightweight fabric. However, it took them like a champ, and overall, considering how floaty it is, it was surprisingly stable and didn’t shift too much whilst cutting my pattern.
If you choose this fabric for a dress, you may want to wear a slip as it can’t be described as 100% opaque; but for me it is opaque enough, especially for days when I am going to pair it with black tights. I have tried standing with light behind me and I couldn’t see a silhouette.
This turned out exactly as I had imagined and I am so happy to have such a wearable addition to my wardrobe for the changing seasons. I have worn it styled with boots and a cardigan so far, but it can easily be dressed with a daintier shoe and fine knit cardigan for a completely different look.