Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Zeena in Brussels Washer Linen


Here's my take on By Hand London's Zeena dress!

The simplicity of this dress caught my eye... no darts, no setting sleeves... yes. Plus, I loved the versions I saw made up: Annie's (even though she wasn't happy with it), Caroline's (that fabric!!!), Katie's, Sarah's...


I was able to eke the Zeena dress out of a 2.5 yard piece of this Kaufman Brussels Washer linen blend (linen + rayon = amazing, y'all!). I adore the deep teal color that they dub "ocean."  And the fabric itself is delightful. The texture and look of linen, with the drape and easy ironing of rayon. Super light, airy and cool!


I had to piece together the facings and take a teeny bit out of the hem in order to fit Zeena onto my piece of fabric. I did not cut the skirt on the bias as instructed by my cat, however.

I went with the shorter sleeved, scoop neck bodice and the longer, knee length skirt.


I narrowed the sleeve seam allowances just slightly because the sleeves were just a tiny bit snug on my biceps.

I also moved the center back zipper to the the under arm, cutting the back skirt and bodice on the fold. I just prefer side zips on dresses. I find them easier to get in and out of... no need for strange contortions to get the back zip done up. Plus your arm covers up any shoddy zipper insertion (most of mine are shoddy... I need to take a zipper mastering class or something). Double plus: the back bodice looks nice and neat and there are fewer seams to sew!


Final verdict: When I put this dress on, I was pretty delighted with it. The color is gorgeous, the loose and blouse-y style is super easy and comfortable to wear. I wore it around town running errands yesterday and felt quite cool in it, temperature-wise.

However, now that I see the photos, I'm not sure it's my best look. 


I feel like the dress is making my waist look really wide. Looks like I could lose some length from the back bodice, too. I might sew the bust pleats up a bit more as Annie suggested so that the outer edge of the pleat doesn't sag so much.


Also, despite my best efforts (understitching, plenty of clipping, stitching in the ditch at the shoulder seams), my facings seem to want to pop out. I might have to go back and topstitch them. Maybe some bra strap holder thingies, too, since the neck is quite wide.


So, not totally sure about this dress. It's comfy, so I'll probably continue to wear it anyway, but I don't know if I would make it again...

36 comments:

  1. I think you look lovely and comfortable! Do you think you'd need the zip at all (vs just slipping it over the head)? We're similarly built and I'll skip a zip if I can avoid it!

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    1. Thanks!! After I saw your question, I went and pulled it over my head- turns out I don't even need it! The waist is still somewhat smaller than the bust, though, so it probably depends on your bust/waist ratio.

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    2. Ha- what I just wrote was not very clear. it = the zipper

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  2. I bet this is so nice and cool for Bangkok heat. I see what you mean about making the waist look wider, but I think that is sort of a universal thing that it does for everyone who wears it - those bust pleats add a lot of extra fabric. I think it is still a nice dress for running around town in though.

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    1. It is quite cool- I definitely need to make more flowy dresses from fabric like this!! I think for some reason I expected the Zeena to nip in at the waist like Anna does. It is damn comfy, though!

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  3. I agree with your first reactions to this dress. Love it. colour and fabric is perfect

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    1. Thanks, Janet! I agree- the color, the fabric and the comfort factor make this dress a winner, even if it's not my most flattering.

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  4. I really like the dress. It looks breezy and cool. Every waist doesn't have to be nipped in.

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  5. I really like the dress. It looks breezy and cool. Every waist doesn't have to be nipped in.

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  6. I think it looks great! I might have to buy that pattern. You could always belt it if you want more definition.

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  7. I love it, and think it looks really great on you. Tbh, I always like everything you make; you have great style! If/when I make it for myself I think I'll sew up the bust and waist pleats a little, maybe just an inch or two on each - just personal preference. Love the fabric! Jen

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! Yeah, I think sewing the pleats together a bit would change the look significantly!

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  8. I have the exact same feelings about my Zeena, always going back and forth on if I like it or not. For me the solution was adding something like a Deer & Doe Ondee sweater over top to nip in the waist more. By itself, yeah, the waist just feels too big and I don't love it.

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    1. Yeah, it's not love for me, either, but it's so damn comfy I don't care!

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  9. Oh, Meg, I love it so much! It looks so comfortable and cool--exactly the kind of thing one wants to wear on hot days. Plus, that color is gorgeous on you, lady. I'm supporting your first reaction, too. :D

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    1. Thanks, Mary! It's definitely cool and comfy!! And I do love the fabric...

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  10. Meg, this is by far the best version I've seen of this dress, but I agree with you that I think its just a funny and unflattering design. Its kind of loose fitting and the kimono sleeves lend a casual vibe, but then I usually think of pleats as a more formal design element. I don't know, something just seems off about the design. But I think yours looks really comfortable and breezy, which I'm sure is perfect for you climate, so I say go for it! i know that it definitely the kind of thing I would wear in NM in the summer!

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    1. Thanks, Megan! Yeah, i feel like in theory this dress is a good idea, but in practice there's just something a little bit off. Oh well, the comfort factor rules, though!

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  11. I think this looks great and super comfy! A really great everyday dress!

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    1. Thanks, Heather! It's definitely got the comfort factor going for it!!

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  12. Meg, what would you think of sashing the waist some? I can see a long, flowy floral sash tied at one side. Maybe make belt loops at the side out of thread the same color as the dress so they'd hide when not wearing the sash?

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    1. A sash is a great idea, Cherie! I'll have to see if I could piece one together from the scraps...

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  13. I think this dress looks really comfortable and great on you! I have always wondered about this dress... I like the lack of darts, but maybe the shaping is a bit off? I also wonder if it might help on a future version to move your outside pleats (on both the skirt and bodice) slightly more to the center? I think that might make the waist not look as wide, and they might hit your, *ahem*, bust a bit more centered. That's my completely non-expert thought :D

    And this fabric is such a beautiful color - I have a few colors of this fabric, but not ocean!

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    1. It is super comfy, Katie! Good idea about moving pleats inwards- that could definitely make it look less wide.

      This fabric is such a winner- the color is really deep and lovely!

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  14. The colour is beautiful on you.... I think you could lose a little length off the back. As for style wise, it's hard to get used to something if you feel like it's not flattering but if it's cool and comfy it clearly fills a niche in your wardrobe!

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    1. In fact I think in a humid climate like yours it's ideal!

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    2. The cool and comfy factor is definitely keeping it in my wardrove despite my misgivings about the fit!!

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  15. It looks very cute and relaxed to me. It took quite a few alterations to get my Zeena fitting properly but I love it now and will re-make it again. (I wore my kitty one today in fact!) Also that fabric sounds lovely, will see if I can track some down over here.

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    1. Thanks, Katie! I'll definitely still wear it tons, I imagine... but I'd probably make alterations if I made it again.

      You should definitely try to find some of this fabric- it's glorious!!

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  16. You look so relaxed, happy and comfortable and your dress is lovely. Looks like a taste of summer to come and makes me want to go for a walk by the ocean.

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