Zadie Dress: Colour Blockin’ & Rockin’ Pockets!

I have had the Zadie pattern by Tilly and the Button waiting in my stash ever since it was first released.

Zadie Dress by Tilly and the Buttons in crêpe scuba from the Fabric Godmother

I adored Zadie the moment I first laid eyes on her.  Princess inspired lines. Colour blocking. Ginormous pockets. It is rare to see such a visually interesting knit dress pattern.

After sewing myself way too many Colette Monetas, I was ready to move onto something more refined.

A chip off the old (colour) block

Ever since finding myself more drawn to a simpler colour palette after having broken up with  my first love of bright patterns and prints, I am finding myself more and more attracted to patterns which offer colour blocking opportunities (like my juniper cardigan or my long-sleeved version of the Kalle shirt dress).

I feel like it’s a way to be fun and unique while still being a “grown up”. If that makes any sense?

As far as colour blocking goes, it doesn’t really get any better than the Zadie dress. One of the biggest challenges here was simply deciding how to block it.

I had internet stalked this pattern for many months. During which time, I was constantly inspired by the extremely creative ways that all the sewists out there have interpreted Zadie. But, of all the colour blocking options, I was repeatedly drawn back to this simple version by Fleurine of Sew Mariefleur. It definitely inspired my Zadie adventure! Thank-you Fleurine!!

I think the light contrasting panels on the side create an illusion of an itsy-bitsy teeny tiny waist. Which I love, since that’s the very opposite of my body shape.

Zadie Dress by Tilly and the Buttons in crêpe scuba from the Fabric Godmother

I miss paper patterns…

Like all Tilly and the Buttons’ patterns, this Zadie dress was a pleasure to sew.

Even before sewing, it was a pleasure to trace. It had been a while since I had sewn with a paper pattern. I tend to chase the instant gratification of PDFs these days.

It is so wonderful to work with those big thick pieces of Tilly and the Buttons paper. And such super thick clean lines to trace – no squinting or cursing the lack of light!

Also, I had forgotten how much faster it is to just trace the pattern, no tape required!

Size matters

My Zadie dress is a size 4. My measurements put me closer to a size 3. However I have had some problems in the past with sewing Tilly’s pattens up too small. It’s one of the only indie designers whose patterns tend towards too small, rather than too big, on me. So I decided to err on the side of caution.

The only place where I had some size difficulties is the sleeve. The size 4 sleeve is extremely snug above the elbow. I had to use every millimeter of the seam allowance to sew this one up. Even doing so, it’s still too small and causes some unsightly pulling in the underarm area.  From the elbow down, however, the sleeve was comically large. By the wrist, I had reduced the sleeve to almost half its original size. So if, like me, you have a “full bicep” (a.k.a. you store all your chocolate bars in your upper arms), you may need to think about sizing up for the upper sleeves.

This little issue bugs me to no end because otherwise the fit is so good!

Zadie Dress by Tilly and the Buttons in crêpe scuba from the Fabric Godmother

Fabric Adventures in Crepe Scuba Land

This fabric was a great choice for the Zadie dress pattern. It is a crepe scuba from The Fabric Godmother.

A crepe scuba, you ask?

I had never heard of it either.

I only became aware of its existence very recently, when I saw Sew Sarah Smith’s blog post about using it. So when it popped up on The Fabric Godmother’s website, I just had to try it.

It is an interesting fabric, very easy to work with. I was expecting it to be a little bit thicker and spongier, more like a typical scuba. But in fact it’s much more crepe-like than I expected. I think it makes a great partnership with the Zadie pattern because it gives off a classier finish than many knits. It also works perfectly with the swishiness of the skirt.

The only thing about the fabric which has disappointed me slightly is the fact that the pink crepe scuba, on its own, has a lovely soft pink hue. But when it’s placed side-by-side against the navy,  it reads as a more neutral beige. The pale fairy floss pink is lost.

So in the end, perhaps, I played it too safe with the colour blocking on this one.

Zadie Dress by Tilly and the Buttons in crêpe scuba from the Fabric Godmother

So is the Zadie dress a “stable” wardrobe staple?

In terms of construction and use of the pattern, everything was very straightforward and enjoyable. Unsurprising, as this has always been my experience with Tilly’s patterns (ever since her blog first inspired me to try sewing…).

An empire waist line has never been my favourite shape. I hardly ever wear it. But I don’t mind it here because it’s cleverly combined with the princess-like seams and other interesting design elements. It does, however,  feel a little bit uncomfortable to have the stabilizing waistband elastic right under the bust. For some reason, on other knit dresses which also use stabilizing elastic in the waist line, it doesn’t feel as uncomfortable when this elastic is hitting at the natural waist line as opposed to under the bust. But this is a very minor issue. It’s not uncomfortable enough to dissuade me from wearing my Zadie dress.

This pattern also got me to thinking about stabilizing.  The instructions specifically require stabilizing in several key areas of stress around the dress, but there is no stabilizing of the raglan sleeves. It’s often a typical step in a knit dress to stabilize the shoulder seams, so this omission got me thinking. I guess it could be because, in a raglan sleeve,  there are two shoulder seams to support the weight of the dress so stabilization isn’t necessary? I noticed that the raglan sleeved version of the Ebony knit dress from Closet Case patterns (check out my version here) also skips stabilization of the shoulders. But, when I sewed the Juniper cardigan by Jennifer Lauren Handmade, even though the shoulder weight is distributed over a front and back seam, she still used a stabilizer.

So I guess the verdict is still out?

And a niggling neckband

Just a minor thing, while I’m happy with my neck band, I had always suspected that the neck bands on Tilly and the Buttons’ knit patterns are a little looser than is my personal preference.

Out of curiosity, I decided to compare this neckband to some of my favourites.

My favourite super snug neckbands that I’ve sewn are probably that in the named Inari tee and the Deer and Doe Givre. Whereas the Zadie dress neckband is about 10% smaller than the neckline, those favorite neckbands are closer to 20% smaller. This definitely explains why neither the Zadie dress neckband or that on my Bettine dress have been my favourites.

Now that I understand that I prefer my neck bands to be a little bit tighter, this will be a very easy adjustment to be made on future knit Tilly and the Buttons patterns.

Tilly: What a clever little button she is…

All in all, I really enjoyed this make. It really is a clever little pattern.

In addition, even though it feels like you have to pay a little more attention than you normally would with a knit dress, due to the unusual construction method, it all comes together very quickly.

Also, I can’t finish this blog post without a shout out to the Zadie dress’s unique deep pockets.

The first time I wore this dress was to go to a concert in Amsterdam. In this age of terrorism, you can no longer bring bags into many concert venues here. Enter my Zadie dress, with her extra large pockets, to get me through the night.

Zadie Dress by Tilly and the Buttons in crêpe scuba from the Fabric Godmother

Sewjo dilemmas

The only serious sewing regret that I have with this Zadie dress is that I did a terrible rush job of the hem at the end.

It’s a total shit show.

Every now and again, often when I’ve been sewing a little too frequently, I get to a point where, even if I’ve enjoyed a project, by the time I finish I feel exhausted and relieved that it’s over.

When exhaustion replaces excitement at the end of a project,  I know that I need to step away from my machine and take a break for a few days. I guess, for me, there is such a thing as too much sewing!

So if you’re ever looking at any of my makes and see a really wavy, crappy, uneven hem, there is a good chance that I was having one of these low sewjo moments when finishing that project.

Does anyone else sometimes have this feeling of getting overwhelmed and needing to just take a short break from the machine to rejuvenate?

But, once rejuvenated, I definitely see more of Zadie in my future. I desperately want one with stripes, just can’t quite settle on the best way to use them!

2 thoughts on “Zadie Dress: Colour Blockin’ & Rockin’ Pockets!

  1. Perfect colour blocking! I love the navy/pink combo. I can’t wear a gathered skirt (I look horrible in Moneta) but I love seeing them on others and you wear this really well! Interesting point about neckbands. For me 85% of the neckline circumference is perfect for a fabric with a good amount of stretch, and 90% for something with very little stretch (like sweatshirting for example). Re the stabilising, I’ve always thought it was because there’s a lot of pressure on the shoulder seam as all the weight hangs from that, which it doesn’t with a raglan sleeve… but I think this is just my assumption, not an Actual Sewing Fact!! Anyway, most importantly, you look lovely in your dress 🙂

    1. Thanks Helen! Interesting about the stretch percentage – I hadn’t thought through too much about how it depends on the fabric. Guess I just prefer my neckbands pretty tight! And sounds like a good theory on the stabilizing!!

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