Just Sew Helen’s English Tea Dress #2

Sam Pattern Review 0 Comments

Last month, I made The English Tea Dress from some floral viscose fabric I had in my stash. I loved the drape and fit of the dress – you can see the full post here. Furthermore, I’d successfully adjusted the pattern with a full bust adjustment (FBA) and compared the pattern against my-self drafted bodice block. 

The Fabric

I knew my next dress from this pattern would be much quicker to make as I’d perfected the fit and chose some fabric from Abakhan.  I used a Slate grey Gypsophila Print Javanaise Viscose (150cm wide) and ordered two metres. It’s so soft and smooth, fairly lightweight, but not sheer and with a lovey drape.  

English Tea Dress
Viscose fabric

I really should wash fabric as soon as I get it. I was just about to cut the dress out and realised I’d not pre-washed it. Fabrics can shrink when washed for the first time so this step is really important.

I chose to fully line the bodice, whereas I underlined the previous dress, both in a plain cotton. Again from Abakhan I choose this Plain Poly Cotton Fabric 59 Dove Grey. The neckline and armholes are sewn inside out, with right sides together, then turned.  The centre back and waist are hand sewn in place using slip stitch.  Overall, I preferred the underlining version. However, when adding this lining I liked how you can finish the neckline without using a facing. I’m working out how to incorporate both methods next time I make the dress.  Both require under stitching to keep the facings/lining to the inside of the garment. I still have some linen effect fabric waiting to be cut for another dress.

Viscose lining

I lined the bodice following a similar technique to that shown by Lisa Comfort from Sew Over It. It is a helpful video for ‘bagging out’ the shoulder seams.


I cut a size 14 bodice and graded to an 18 skirt to accommodate my hips and lockdown tummy. I also took in the back neck as per my usual adjustments.  Without sleeves, I was able to cut the dress from 1.5 metres of fabric.


Viscose is a very moveable fabric and can be tricky to handle when it comes to hemming.  I usually press a narrow hem and straight stitch but thought I’d try and do a rolled hem.  I had practiced recently and have a couple of rolled hem feet.  The narrower hem worked better and, overall, the hem was successful. However, the fabric caught over the seams in a couple of places and didn’t roll.  Despite a few stop starts, luckily from the right side, you can’t see any difference.

English Tea Dress hemming
English Tea Dress hemming

Lining vs. Underlining

Comparing my two Tea Dresses, I prefer the finish using underlining rather than lining the bodice and turning it through. It was difficult to hand stitch accurately. I also found it harder to make fit adjustments with this full lining.  The lining and main fabric need to be an absolutely perfect match in size otherwise they don’t lie flat when hand stitching. I came across a couple of areas that prevented the viscose from lying completely flat.  Underlining, however, holds the two fabrics in place at the darts. By tacking all around it gives the viscose fabric some structure, ultimately helping with sewing the garment together. 

The End Result

The dress is really feminine without being too ‘girly.’ It is lovely and soft to wear. I’m more comfortable in pumps than heels but a change of footwear can easily make a more dressy outfit.

Helen's English Tea Dress

The second time round Helen’s English Tea dress pattern adjustments really pay off. What a treat it is to make a well fitting dress but just swap the fabric! Abakhan has plenty of versions of it’s popular Javanise Viscose and you can see our picks below. For more details on fabric requirements and pattern sizing, scroll down to see the back of the English Tea Dress pattern envelope.

Top left:
Feather Print Javanaise Viscose Fabric 11 Blue
£5.99 per metre.

Bottom left:
Roses Print Javanaise Viscose Fabric 35 Orange
£5.99 per metre.

Top right:
Floral Print Javanaise Viscose 50 Dusty Blue Brown
£4.99 per metre.

Bottom right:
Astrantia Print Javanaise Viscose Fabric 28 Cream
£5.99 per metre.

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