Linen Fen dress, take one

Linen Fen dress, take one

My weekend was all about making that Fen dress idea from last week come to life and I am exceedingly pleased with this first pass at the concept! You may recall the only thing I wanted to change from the tunic version was to bring the neck width in considerably, as I don’t like wide necklines on me. But I also had two design details in mind for the dress-length version that wound up being relevant to the neck situation: A center-front seam in order to have a front slit, and center-back pleat to keep the back of this thing from just being one big flat sheet. In planning the execution of those two details, I realized they were actually the solution to the neck width.

Rather than moving the neckline inwards to make it narrower, the back pleat is sewn 1″ in from the center-back fold, which removes 2″ total from the back neck width but leaves the width of the lower body unchanged. The front pieces were cut along the selvage instead of on the fold, and the seam is likewise sewn 1″ from the edge. This removed a matching 2″ from the front neck width, but also makes the entire front of the dress 2″ narrower. Because it’s a sack, that has no real effect on the fit, and that all made the neckhole exactly right — it fits perfectly over my head. Not wanting to lose even a quarter of an inch in neck circumference, I attached the bias facing in visible fashion rather than folding the whole thing to the inside.

And I totally and utterly love this. I have plans to make assorted variations in other colors — more on that to come!

The only other thing I’ll note about this one for now is that it’s made from some Roma lightweight linen I bought from Fancy Tiger and, although it’s perhaps a teeny tiny bit sheer for a dress if you’re concerned about that, it was an absolute joy to sew with and is a dream to wear. And this shade of yellow is exquisite — it’s neither bright nor muddy, and shifts beautifully with the light. Thankfully, they tell me they’ll get more, because I want a little linen tee in the same color.


PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Linen Fen tunic, take one

25 thoughts on “Linen Fen dress, take one

  1. With leggings and an optional gauzy scarf, absolutely fantastic to wear in India!

    • Is this length not ok without leggings? I may just wear pants the whole time because I don’t want to get it wrong.

      • Oh, it is totally fine. Just look around you to see what other people are wearing.

        In big urban areas women can and do wear almost anything. In smaller towns they may be more conservative. It just struck me as being very much like a long kameez/kurta you would wear over a skinny churidar/leggings.

  2. Your dress is wonderful! I’m sure it’s perfect for summer in Nashville! I’m a bit confused by how you modified it, but it’s me not getting it, not your explanation I’m sure! Now if I was younger and thinner, I would be making bunches of these!
    I think this dress would look great a little shorter paired with leggings when the weather cools off, the possibilities are endless!
    I also have to add how impressed, and pleased I am with so many younger (I’ve reached “old”) people making clothes and other items. When I was in my teens, twenties and thirties I seemed to be the only one sewing. I hope this trend continues to grow and flourish!

  3. Love this pattern and love the fabric, color and design on you! Can’t wait to hear how you enjoy wearing it over time.

  4. absolutely love this! What was the finished length on this, just out of curiosity? And really love the pocket. Maybe a tutorial on the pocket? It is just perfect. Thank you.

    • I originally cut it to 49.5″ from shoulder tip to hem, determined by the length of my cutting table! My original plan was to give it an inch hem, with a quarter inch turned under, but I really liked the length before it was hemmed, so I just gave it a little baby hem that (taking into account the French seams at the shoulders) probably left it around 48″. And I’m about 5′-8″ for reference.

      I’ll do a post about the pocket — thanks for reminding me.

  5. Hi Karen, LOVE this and the modifications are so good. That front slit is a big yes. One question — did you also use size 20 for this pattern, the way you did for the tunic?

    • Yep, this is the size 20. And I just dropped the sides straight down from the widest point of the hem on the original pattern.

  6. Love this! It looks very cool (in appearance & temperature!) and I love the idea of leggings in the cooler months. Thanks for furnishing your mods…very clever! When I get home from Squam this will be on my sewing to-do list!

  7. Do you know how much ease it gives you in your hips? I’d like to lengthen a top pattern into a dress but don’t know how much ease the hips should have to move and sit. I’d also like to know how you picked the size 20. I’d be worried the shoulders and neck would swallow me. Did you measure something in your closet to pick a width? It looks wonderful on you and yellow is your color.

    • Running some quick numbers in my head, I’m gonna say it’s probably 53-54″ circumference in the skirt, and my hips are about 38″, so roughly 15″ of positive ease — and I wouldn’t mind it being a bit more.

      I chose the size 20 by laying a couple of garments from my closet on top of the pattern for comparison. I knew I wanted it to be bigger than my size 12 Fen, but smaller than an ES Harper tunic, and size 20 was right in the sweet spot. But I do think narrowing the neckhole is what makes it look and feel like it fits me, rather than that I’m just wearing something several sizes too big. And I’m thinking for the next one, I may try going down one size in the shoulders but making the body even wider.

  8. I love your solution for the neckline. It came together beautifully. (I too am not a fan of wide necks)

  9. super cool–really lovely color, esp for a blue-eyed person, and really cool design–i love it!

  10. It’s great Karen! Just wondering how far down you went for the back pleat. I love the idea of putting one of those in most of the dresses that I’m making because otherwise the back does indeed, look like one big sheet! I’ve dealt with that by splitting the back and adding a seam all the way down but a pleat would probably be more fun and definitely more interesting. The color is beautiful on you.

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