The Mini Tea Dress

Super easy to style, the tea dress is a classic and timeless piece that never fails to look elegant.

Characterised by their forever-feminine silhouette and sleek lines, they compliment every body shape beautifully. 

I’ve always loved tea dresses for how effortless they look and how versatile they are in the wardrobe.

They can be paired with sneakers and a denim jacket for a light, casual, and summery look. Or with sleek heels and a simple clutch for an evening event. 

This beautiful fabric was found in a vintage store, and it sat in my stash for a little while before I decided to use it.

I discovered that the fabric is acrylic, a synthetic fibre invented in the 1940s. It felt right to create a garment inspired by this era, and a tea dress was just the thing!

With this in mind and with a gorgeous print at my finger tips, I got started. 

I had no pattern to work from, so it was really a matter of figuring things out as I went along, my first hurdle in the shape of a skirt. 

I wanted a fit that skimmed over my hips, but sat comfortably over the waist. I was also looking for a somewhat full skirt. I knew that I didnt want an awkward seam at the waist, and thus a classic gathered skirt or circle skirt would not fit the bill. 

At this point it was obvious the skirt would need to be comprised of panels, but then there was the fact that I wanted to avoid any unslightly centre front seams, so that would need to be offset. But to simply spin the skirt in place would mean any fastenings would no longer be centred, and a side seam in the top would also no longer match with the skirt. 

So, to avoid this, I would need seven panels, with the front piece cut on the fold, connecting what would have been two panels into one. To create this pattern, I took my waist measturement, divided it by eight and then added two centimters to this number to achieve the measurement for the top of each panel with seam allowance included. 

I decided the circumference of the hem of the skirt, and followed the same process for the hem measurement of each panel. The centre front panel was just these measurements doubled, with two centimetres subtracted. 

Each panel was cut against the next, keeping the instep of each piece equal in both depth and angle through each piece.

The top was created by taking a long stip of fabric, roughly 50 centimeters in width, from selvedge to selvedge. This was cut in half to create two matching pieces, and then I hemmed both edges. 

Along each selvedge I gathered the pieces by hand to fit from the side seam to the cetre front, and then attatched it here. I then stitched the back side against the centre back pieces to the seams running up the side back, and gathered the rest down to fit up until the side seam again, creating both the top and sleeve in one swoop. 

I took a time lapse of myself figuring this all out, I was really struggling to decide how I wanted the back to look, so it took a while, but I got there in the end!

All that was left to do now was to hem the skirt, and attach an invisible zip up the back of the dress, and voila!

I went out the next day to take some pictures in it, and that was all! you can see the pictures on my portfolio page, as well as on my Instagram (and obviously here, too!).

I was trying to look like a serious model here – but I’m not sure I can quite pull it off, but i have certainly looked worse!