Sew Over It 1940s tea dress.
My projects,  Patternreview,  Sewing

1940s tea dress by Sew Over It

I got this fabric from Artenio at the same time with the mustard yellow one for this Amelia dress. It took me quite some time to decide on the pattern. I did not have a lot of fabric so many dresses with their circle skirts were unfortunately out of question. Finally, I decided to make the 1940s tea dress by Sew Over It.

The sizing

This dress comes in sizes 8 to 20. I have noticed from experience that the Sew Over It patterns tend to be pretty large in sizing, but this dress did not have much ease in it. I went for the size 10 at the top but increased the size a bit from the bust down. Although I did try to determine the size correctly there was one crucial measurement that normally isn’t an issue for me (although I am aware of having a long torso). For anyone else making this dress, I recommend measuring from the shoulder to below bust (or even better, making a toile!). The bust level for this dress is pretty high and my dress would look better with the bust seam sitting properly under my bust instead of dangling awkwardly an inch higher.

Sewing and alterations

I wanted my dress to have a more vintage feel so I cut the skirt hem longer for about 20 cm. I read a tip online that the midsection of the dress would benefit from some kind of interfacing so I interfaced the front waist pieces. Then I sewed the dress together. This was pretty easy and I did not really need a lot of instructions to do it. However, then I tried the dress on and the challenges became apparent.

Below is my dress on my dressform. See the droopy side boob thing going on? The gathers are way too close to the sides. The effect is increased by the fact that the seam below the bust is a bit too high which flattens the front.

Fitting problems.

Another thing was that in the sleeves the gathers at the top of the sleeves were mostly behind my shoulders. That looked odd.

So rip, rip, rip I went. I moved the bust gathers much closer to the centre front. Then I resew the seam using only 6 mm (1/4″) seam allowance to add more room to my bust. Then I moved the sleeve gathers towards the front of my shoulders. I noticed that starting the gathers 4 cm behind the shoulder seam and ending them 6 cm after the shoulder seam at the front looked best.

My hubby helped me to take in from the centre back seam before adding the zipper. This is the one alteration that I can’t do by myself since my dressform is not a perfect replica of my body. Luckily he has got a lot of experience helping me on this and I can trust his judgement.

The finished 1940s tea dress

The Sew Over It 1940s tea dress from the side view.

I am happy with this dress except that I am worried about the bust seam riding up which leads to ugly bulges of fabric. Only time will tell whether this becomes an issue. Also, the dress might stretch in use due to the weight of the fabric.

Sew Over It 1940s tea dress.

From the back, the dress is quite simple but the gathers at the sleeve tops add a bit personality to it. I am liking more and more this kind of A-line skirt. I might turn the skirt pattern into a proper skirt by adding a waistband.

The forest meadow is covered with lilies of the valley. I love the subtle scent of them and I picked a little bouquet to bring home. I also was surprised to notice an apple tree growing at the end of the meadow. I have lived here for four years and I never noticed it before. It is currently full of apple flowers and they are one of my favourite flowers. The meadow has some rock formations that resemble foundings of a house. Probably the apple tree used to be in someone’s garden at some point.

I was inspired by the history and the lilies of the valley and made a video of picking the flowers. To hit two birds with one stone you also get to see how the dress moves:


I think that this is a great pattern but not for beginners but rather something for intermediate sewers. The sewing itself is not so difficult but a beginner is not normally ready to do alterations if the fit is not right at first. I am sure I will make this dress again and the next time it will be a quick and easy project.

I hope you liked this post. What did you like the video? Thank you for reading and happy sewing!



I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


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