Today on the blog I’m sharing my Zadie Dress (by Tilly and the Buttons). I actually finished this dress last fall but am just now getting around to publishing this pattern review!
This empire-waisted dress has front and back waist pleats, princess seams, and deep pockets. The pattern has the option for cap sleeves that cover the shoulders, 3/4 or long sleeves. It calls for knits with 20% stretch or greater.
Zadie Dress Pattern Review:
I used an Art Gallery Knit from my stash that had 50% 4 way stretch. I chose not to color-block this version because I wasn’t sure how that would look on me. I used the view with 3/4 sleeves and shortened them to above my elbow. My bust measurement is 32.5″. I (barely) sized down to a 2, for a 32″ bust. I knew that my fabric’s stretch would make up for that 1/2″. (I had also heard that this pattern runs slightly large.)
This pattern has 5/8″ seam allowances. I am used to sewing with 1/2″ or 3/8″ seam allowances. I feel that it’s harder to sew precisely with a big seam allowance, especially around those curves. However, I encountered some problems with the large dots not matching up like they were supposed to and the large seam allowance totally saved my bacon! Beginners will appreciate that large seam allowances give a bigger margin for error.
You’ll notice some weird drag lines at my upper arms. This is probably because I didn’t do a narrow shoulder adjustment. Oh well! I skipped that because I just wanted to get this project **DONE!**
The empire waist sits closer to my natural waist because of the stretchy fabric + I’m petite. I actually prefer this. I don’t normally wear empire-waisted stuff unless I’m preggo bc it can make me look shorter than I already am. I hope it’s helpful for you smaller-busted ladies to see how the front pleats look from the side, compared to the bust.
Bahahaha – my short little arms don’t even come close to reaching the bottoms of these pockets. The pockets are really freaking deep, I could fit a sandwich in each one!
Okay, now that I addressed minor fit stuff I’m can completely forget all that because this dress is super comfortable! It’s obviously very roomy from the ribcage down so it’s perfect for those hot summer nights! I love clothing that moves with me and helps me feel at ease. I feel fun and flirty when I wear this dress! The Zadie will definitely be getting some use this season.
I shortened the skirt so it hits just above the knee. The pattern includes instructions on where to adjust the length.
I did a small bust adjustment by shaving off a bit of the side bodice curve at the bust area.
Issues with the Pattern:
I taught this pattern in a sewing class last fall. I wanted to go over a couple of problems we encountered. I was not able to find any constructive criticism for this pattern, so I feel that this information is especially relevant. My students and I used BOTH printed paper patterns and downloadable PDF patterns.
- The front bodice waist edge and the front skirt waist edge didn’t match up. I thought it was just me, but when my students did this step all of them had the same issue. One of my students’ skirt waist edge was 1″ longer than the bodice waist edge…on EACH side. The rest of ours was more like 1/2″ longer on each side. The stay tape on the bodice prevents it from stretching out of shape. Perhaps the skirt edge stretched out a *tiny* bit when we sewed the pleats (making it longer). However, it couldn’t have stretched much. I actually think the skirt was too wide on that edge.
- The large dots at the waist (front and back) did not match up. We spent A LOT of class time unpicking and going over the seam just to get all three pattern pieces to come to a point.
- The front skirt is longer than the back skirt.
- You may notice that my neckband does not lay completely flat. I believe this has to do with the pattern being drafted for 20% stretch, and my dress fabric having 50% stretch. I just don’t think my fabric has enough structure to properly hold the front of the dress up (the pleats are heavy and they weigh the front of the dress down). I would recommend using fabric with no more than 40% stretch.
While I love the design of the Zadie dress, I probably would not teach a class on it again. I don’t like seeing my students spend class time fixing a problem that happened because of a drafting error.
Confident beginners: If you have a couple knit projects under your belt, you can totally make this dress. If you get stuck with matching the large dots up, ask for help. If you’re the kind of person that wants every line to match up perfectly, I might encourage you to choose a different pattern.
Despite these issues we had with the pattern, the Zadie Dress is so unique and fun! If you’re an intermediate sewer and up for a challenge, I’d say go for it! I love the vintage flair of Tilly’s patterns. I heard that she just recently came out with a book. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I hope you found the information in this blog post helpful. I sat on this one for a long time because I wasn’t happy with the photos I took. (It was my second try, so I was just sooo done with taking photos!) But, it’s a beautiful dress and I’m glad I could share it with you. 💕