Prima linen shift dress

The third linen item in this week’s unofficial linen-a-thon is a cute and very casual shift dress from the May 08 issue of Prima magazine. I don’t think I’ve mentioned Prima much here before, but it’s a UK women’s magazine that features one sewing pattern each issue. If you subscribe you get sent them automatically, but if you pick up an occasional copy at the newsagents like I do, then you need to ring a premium rate number to have it posted to you (it usually works out to a pound or two on your phone bill, which is very reasonable).

Their patterns are usually a bit hit-or-miss with me, but when they get it right, I drop everything to buy the issue, even though this is the first one I’ve actually sewn up. Their sizing is pretty close to the Big 4 patterns and they include seam and hem allowances, and the patterns are printed on newsprint like the pattern magazines. One thing I really don’t like, though, is that they print their sewing instructions right on the pattern sheet so you’ve got to unfold this huge sheet just to read what the next step is if you haven’t cut up your patterns and prefer to trace instead.

On this pattern, I really liked the overall easygoing style and fit of the dress, and the gathered back yoke combined with the standing wide collar really appealed to me. This pattern included optional cap sleeves, which I decided to make to shield my poor freckled shoulders from the sun (when it occasionally shows its face here!).

James pointed out that the back of the dress bubbles out a bit due to the gathering (you can see it in the side view above), but that doesn’t really bother me, and I much prefer to wear it unbelted, despite his insistence on seeing my waist! I added in side-seam pockets because I always have keys or my mobile that need stashing if I pop down to the store without my purse. I also took in the side seams by about an inch and a half at the waist to give it a bit more shape. It was definitely veering into sack territory as originally drafted, but I didn’t want to add vertical darts as it’d look all wrong on such a free-flowing style shift dress. I’m pleased with the amount I took it in – it’s enough that I’ve got a bit of shape, but I can still get it on over my head without too much of a dance!

Because I made this in a linen/cotton blend, I knew in advance that I’d have to contain ALL the seam allowances or face the fraying consequences! As I was cutting out the pattern pieces I also cut out a long length of binding and used this to cover the seam allowances in areas I couldn’t french seam, like the back yoke seam and armscyes. The side seams and pockets I just French seamed, which makes for a very nice and neat interior.

All this work making the fraying linen seams impenetrable should be great practice for Burda 7783 and the silver linen/lurex I bought in Dublin, which I’ve now decided I’ll be wearing to a wedding in August (if not before!).

I wore this to work on Monday teamed with my white swing jacket and some white, patterned knit Wolford tights and it just looked fabulous (if I do say so myself!). It was cool and incredibly comfortable, and made a great addition to my summer wardrobe that I can bring out for work, picnics, parties or otherwise and still feel great.

This concludes my unofficial “linen week”, but if I get a break between the bunting and baking this weekend, I’ll have a few more goodies to show off…

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