Zeena in Watercolour Crepe

This dress is extra special to me, because I made it to wear to my sister’s wedding last month.

I teetered back and forth between a few patterns for this special dress. It’s so difficult to decide on something to wear when you know the photos are going to be passed around your family forever, no? I considered a full length By Hand London Anna Dress (would have been gorgeous too), or a Victory Patterns Satsuki Dress (love this version from Sophie so much). When the girls at By Hand London released the Zeena Dress, I decided it was the perfect mix of simple and stylish I was looking for. Those ladies know their dresses.

I think we can all agree that the fabric is the star of this dress. I went to my favourite supplier looking for the perfect fabric, and when I saw this one, I just knew. It’s a soft watercolour style print on a polyester crepe base.

Back when I was in design school, there was this stigma around polyester. We avoided it like the plague! But after working for a textile wholesaler for many years, I learned that not all poly is created equally. A nice quality polyester will give you a lovely silky drape without the high maintenance. I am partial to polyester crepe because I find it easy to sew and care for. Plus the good stuff looks and feels almost like silk, and often presses much more easily than you think. I still probably wouldn’t want to wear polyester pants – but for a blouse or dress that is not skin tight, it’s a really great textile. The bonus is the low price point.

I pulled out all the stops on this make. Instead of the invisible zipper that the pattern calls for, I opted for a hand picked zipper. This is my favourite zipper finish thanks to Tasia’s tutorial. I also added a waist stay to keep the zipper from gaping at the waistline – I highly recommend Tasia’s tutorial for that too (not just because she’s my friend!).

I hemmed the skirt and sleeves with a catch stitch, which is virtually invisible from the right side. Here’s my trick to get the edges nice and crisp: fusible web tape! I folded my hem up, and then sandwiched web tape along the edge. This also helped to keep the hem in place before I did my hand sewing.

The Zeena dress can go really casual, but this fabric dressed it up just enough for me. I love the full skirt and the way the fabric falls softly around the pleats. The only thing I would change for my next version is to lengthen the bodice about an inch – it didn’t occur to me until I saw these photos.