This blog post was originally written for Sew Me Sunshine – go there NOW to see all the lovely fabric!
It’s not shocker that I’m a big fan of I Am Patterns; they design understated but quirky everyday patterns that are lovely to sew. I have already made their Artemis jacket and the Juliette shirt, and this time I decided to make the Lucienne.
Lucienne is a loose-fitting shirt that can be lengthened to a tunic, and you can add on some more length to make a super relaxed dress. I chose this beautiful olive green tencel that I saw at Harriet’s latest Open Studio event. It kind of has to be seen to be appreciated, but this fabric is so so beautiful. The smooth finish allows the rich colour to shine, and it has brilliant drape even though it’s not overly lightweight, plus it’s completely opaque.
Even though it’s got a brilliant drape, the fabric behaved while being cut, although I did find it slipped about a bit while sewing so make sure you use a lot of pins to get a precise finish. The pattern instructions say to add 10” to the hem for the tunic version and 18” for the dress version. I did as told and added on 18” for the dress, but I was worried about the shape being very baggy so I tapered the lower edges by a couple of inches to create more of a curve. The sleeves also looked quite voluminous, so I tapered in 2.5cm on each side to make them narrower. The fabric is so wide that even with a whopping amount of length added on to the pattern I managed to cut this from 2 metres!
The construction is really easy, it’s essentially straight up and down, so fitting also isn’t an issue. I decided to do the gorgeous fabric justice with French seams and used one of my Pink Coat Club labels. The dress doesn’t have a facing, so I used a little scrap of fabric for a makeshift tag to attach the label to.
Once the dress started to come together I as worried it was looking like a lot of green. It’s probably because I’m used to wearing prints, but the volume of fabric in one solid colour was giving me the heebie-jeebies so I added a contrast fabric to the underside of the collar, the same as I used for the label.
I also had to add on patch pockets because I managed to stain the fabric while cutting it! I’m so lucky it was in a spot that could be easily covered, and I actually really like it with pockets. I added the contrast fabric to the underside of the pocket flaps too, so it’s another way of breaking up the solid colour.
It came to trying on the dress and…it was ENORMOUS! There’s a relaxed fit, and there’s just too big and sadly this was the latter. It came down to my ankles and the sleeves were covering my hands, so I chopped off 26cm from the sleeves and 10cm from the length. This looked so much better but the sleeves were awkwardly hanging so I made little button-up tabs, again with contrast fabric underneath.
I had quite a few hiccups with this make but I’m so pleased with how it turned out, and I ended up with some minor pattern hacks that (I believe!) have elevated the design. It is very oversized still so I prefer wearing it with a belt, but it’s nice to have the option of a really loose-fitting dress for mega food days!
This was my first time sewing with tencel and I learnt so much. Here are my top tips for tackling tencel:
- Mark the wrong side of each piece of cut fabric with a little ‘X’; the front and back look basically the same so this will save you time (and the risk of sewing a piece the wrong way round!)
- Make sure all surfaces are CLEAN!!! I was so sad to cut into this gorgeous fabric and see a big stain on one of the front pieces (although this kind of applies to all fabric!)
- Use good quality skinny pins so they don’t leave little holes in the fabric
- If you can, turn down the steam function on your iron. I found that too much steam made a bit of a rippling effect on the fabric
- Enjoy swooshing around in this amazing drapey twirliness