1940s Tea Dress Sewalong No. 2 : Gathering Supplies & Choosing Fabric

First of all we just want to say we’re so excited by the response the sewalong has received so far. Thank you everyone! We’ve had a big surge in 1940’s Tea Dress pattern orders and we’re so happy so many of you are joining in! We cannot wait to see your versions.

But before we get carried away, we need to talk about the supplies you’re going to need to sew your dresses. Then we’ll be guiding you through arguably the most fun part of all – choosing your fabric.

You’re going to need:

1940's Tea Dress Sewalong | Sew Over It

1940’s Tea Dress pattern
– a 22″ invisible zip in a colour similar to your fabric
– three 22mm covered buttons
– matching thread
– a selection of sewing supplies: sewing machine, fabric scissors or rotary cutter, paper scissors, hand sewing needles, pins, tracing paper, tape measure, and a stitch ripper
– and of course, fabric!

So what kind of fabric should you choose? It’s often the case that beginner sewers walk into the fabric shop and immediately dash over to the pretty prints section. Beware. Although you can find an array of different materials in beautiful prints, these often tend to be quilting cottons, usually too stiff for most dressmaking projects.

For the 1940’s Tea Dress, the quality you are looking for in your fabric is drape. We recommend using a fabric with as much drape as possible. This will ensure that the gathers at the bust sit nicely, and that the skirt hangs properly. You want to be able to swish and swoosh!

Our recommended fabrics for this pattern are lightweight wovens such as rayon, crepe, georgette, satin or silk. Check out our online shop for fabrics we’ve chosen specifically for the 1940’s Tea Dress pattern.

Lisa’s Top Tip: My best advice for choosing fabric is go for an easier option first, especially if you aren’t an experienced dressmaker. Rayon and heavier crepes will be easier to work with. Anything very thin or slippy like satin will add a new dimension of difficulty that you may not welcome. Also, be careful with man-made fabrics as they are often more bouncy, harder to press and therefore harder to sew, than say pure silk.

How much fabric will you need? Have a look at this handy chart.

1940's Tea Dress Sewalong | Sew Over It

Remember, if you’re using fabric with a large print it’s usually a good idea to buy extra so you can match the pattern at the seams.

When you have chosen your fabric, brought it home (and had a bit of fun draping it around yourself), you’ll need to prewash it. We cannot stress enough how important this step is. There is nothing worse than spending hours making yourself a beautiful new dress only for it to shrink after its first wash. You need to prewash the fabric in the same way you intend to wash your finished dress, whether it be machine wash, hand wash or dry clean.

If you absolutely do not have time to pre-wash your fabric and just have to get cutting right away (we understand), you can give your fabric a really good steam press. This is what they do in the industry for ready-to-wear clothing. Just make sure you test your fabric can handle all the heat and steam on a scrap piece first. You don’t want shiny patches or a great big iron mark on it!

That’s it for now. If you have any questions about choosing the right fabric get in touch. Comment on our Facebook page or tweet us at @SewOverIt.

See you again on Friday 14th when we’ll be measuring, choosing sizes, tracing the pattern and then cutting the fabric. Can’t think of a better way to spend Valentine’s Day! 🙂

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