Minerva network: Tessuti Pia dress

Quick thanks first for all the lovely comments on my Anna! I’m so proud of it and reading your encouraging comments only make me want to continue doing better and better with my sewing :)

Tessuti Pia dress

Here’s my Minerva make for this month. It’s a (slightly modified) Tessuti Pia sundress, using this luscious batik print cotton lawn. I actually made this quite a while ago and even wore it to the Minerva meetup day back in June! It’s a bit different in style to what I usually go for (I mean apart from all my obvious usual hallmarks: abstract print, blue/black colours, pockets…) but I’ve been wearing it a lot in this sunny London weather.

Tessuti Pia dress

It’s the first Tessuti pattern I’ve made and I’m afraid it gave me a bit of grief, mostly down to the PDF itself. It is SIXTY NINE pages long (!) so very intensive on paper and ink. I literally had to print it out in chunks over a few days to make it seem less daunting, then felt like apologising to some trees. The main reason is that the pieces aren’t nested, ie the XS/S are laid out separately to M/L/XL, which would be fine if that was noted somewhere so you could selectively print only the size you wanted, but all but impossible to deduce before printing them all out. I ended up recycling at least twenty unused sheets which is pretty unacceptable. There are also a bunch of pieces which have to be cut out of something called Vilene Shield (used to temporarily stabilise the arm and neck edges for finishing, I think). I’ve never heard of it so didn’t use any of those pieces either.

Tessuti Pia dress

Luckily after the nightmare of printing and assembly the dress was simple to put together. The instructions are good and each step is clearly photographed. I especially liked how the instructions show where and how to finish raw edges with an overlocker as you go – so often that is missed out. The front pockets are constructed so the inner pocket is smaller than the outer, causing them to droop open in quite a pleasing way. I think this would be even more effective in a slightly drapier fabric than this crisp lawn.

Tessuti Pia dress

As I mentioned, I didn’t use the Vilene method to finish the neckline and armsyces but instead drafted a simple all-in-one facing which was burrito’d and topstitched. Another example of deviating from instructions and swapping out finishes and techniques to suit my own preferences.

Tessuti Pia dress

I cut the smallest size because it’s designed oversized, and made quite a lot of fitting adjustments directly to the paper pattern. I took about 4″ off the bodice length and at least 10″ off the skirt because looking at other versions of this dress I figured a higher waistline and shorter length would be better on me. Halfway through making it I was still convinced it would look awful on me, but actually I really like it – it’s different to my usual silhouette but very easy to wear and nice and breezy for hot days.

Tessuti Pia dress

Once constructed I felt it was still a bit too straight-up-and-down, so added a little smocking detail into the front and back to add a touch more waist shaping. Really pleased with how this worked out: it’s just small pieces of thin elastic stretched and sewn onto the inside. This lawn was really scrummy to work with and feels great to wear – perfect for a loose summer sundress. I think it’s got a nicer handle than Liberty lawn, which I find can be a bit clingy and crease-prone, especially unlined. This one resists wrinkles much better but still has the characteristic fine weave which makes it delightful to sew and to wear. You can find the fabric here, and the Tessuti Pia pattern here.

23 thoughts on “Minerva network: Tessuti Pia dress

  1. AvatarUte

    Great review, thanks! I love your version! Good to see how versatile it is. I also have the pattern and a nice charcoal linen for it. I am going to copy your idea with the all-in-one facing and I am pretty sure I will also size down. I did not realise the printing will be so wasteful, I have other Tessuti Patterns which are nested, what a shame and so unnecessary!

  2. AvatarSam

    I was looking at this pattern and various versions online only last night. I’m pretty tempted by it but was worried that it might be too oversized as I’m not very tall. Yours looks fab though, and shows that a few alterations can make it suit someone who’s a similar height to me.

  3. AvatarMeasure Twice Cut Once

    I’ve never really been drawn to this style as I thought it might dwarf my height and make me look even shorter than normal. With your alterations I like it. A bit more fitted and shorter certainly makes it look soo much better.

    Amazing fabric choices as always!

    Also boo to paper wastage, I hate it when the paper is not used efficiently. Good on you for recycling. Oh and Vilene Shield is a type of interfacing, no idea why the brand name was used and not a description of the product?

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Thanks! With the tweaks I made I find it very comfortable and fairly flattering. I admit, it was mostly just the pockets that attracted me to it…

      I found that quite odd too, especially if it’s not a widely known thing.

  4. AvatarHeather

    It’s really cute on you! I hate those kinds of PDFs too. So much easier when you can just select the pages for your size instead of printing all this stuff you don’t need.

  5. AvatarRachael

    I saw this dress at the Minerva meet up and really admired it. I’m glad I know which pattern you used now, but all that printing sounds like a bit of a faff.

  6. AvatarSassy T

    Great review. Gosh 90 odd pages, that would drive me crazy. Am in a state of frenzy with 30 pages, so try to buy printed patterns if possible. Love the fabric!

  7. AvatarMelanie

    Love the Pia Dress SO much. I made a toile of this a few weeks ago but luckily someone had given me a heads up that the pattern wasn’t nested. That said, you still need to print the whole thing out to know what is what. I’ve down a few classes at Tessuti here in Sydney and they are big on Vilene Shields. They use them to stablise necklines etc…I guess it might be called “tear away” also. I didn’t use it for my Pia…I just sewed a line of stay-stitching to the neckline…and I plan to finish the arms/neck with bias binding.

    Agree – the dress is super SUPER long. I’m nearly 5ft 8″ and the dress came to my ankles!

  8. Avatarvelosewer

    You’ve done a lovely job with this dress. It’s a fab summer style and really great when it’s hot an humid.
    The pocket detailing on Pia is the part I love the most.

  9. AvatarJenna

    I used to love PDF patterns for the own-it-now factor but I really hate all the printing and sticking that goes with them now. I would much rather buy a paper pattern. You have done a great job with this dress though, it looks fab on you and that fabric is gorgeous!

  10. AvatarRuth

    That PDF sounds like a nightmare – I had one that was 50 pages the other day and that was bad enough for me! The dress is well worth the effort though – it looks great, and perfect for this hot weather!

  11. Avatarsewamysew

    This looks great on you, such perfect modifications and the fabric is a really good match. I’ve got this pattern and was thinking of turning it into a two piece to give it a bit of a waist. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be. Love this!

  12. Avatarlucinda

    ohmygoodness, you are one talented lady! i’m SUCH a sweing novice, but i’ve made a few skirts and baby’s dresses {a while ago}. i need to get my machine back out and start creating again. you’ve inspired me!

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