Adele dress

Meet my newest little black number…

Adele dress

Surprise! It looks like a cropped top and skirt but it’s actually a one-piece dress.


It’s my take on the Adèle pattern by Anne Durrieu, an impulse purchase as soon as I saw it on Julie’s Instagram feed. I’ve been wanting to self-draft this sort of dress for ages but never got round to it, so for a £6.50 PDF I thought I’d take a punt on an unknown-to-me French company. Anne Durrieu seems to make and sell rtw clothing as well as selling the patterns to DIY them, and this is their second dress pattern release.

Adele dress

For a dress that looks quite clean and simple there’s a lot going on. The skirt attaches to the bodice lining only, leaving the swingy outer bodice loose over the top. The outer bodice is joined to the lining at the neck and both are attached together at the armsyce. The back of the outer bodice has a slightly curved hem and buttons up the back. There’s bust darts in the lining, pleats and darts in the skirt, and there’s an invisible zip in the underlayers to fasten it. If that sounds pretty complex… it was, ha ha. Now factor in that the instructions only come in French!

Adele dress

The diagrams weren’t that helpful and Google translate did not prove insightful, so I was on my own with the construction really. I tried as much as possible to reverse-engineer it ahead of time but my unpicker still took quite the workout: I think the waist seam came out four times before I got it right. The lining acts as a semi-lining and semi-underlining, leading to even more ‘which is the right side?!’ confusion and unpicking.

Adele dress
Adele dress

The good news is it fitted nicely off the bat. I can typically tell now if I’m going to have to alter the fit just from looking at the bodice pattern piece, which is handy. The neckline and sleeves in particular are a nice shape and very comfortable. I cut size 40 graded to 42 but ended up taking it in a bit at the waist and hip so might go for a 38-40 next time.

Adele dress

The main fabric is a fairly thick and spongy seersucker from Ditto with a woven-in stripe, and the lining is a black cotton sheeting. I picked easy to work with fabrics to mitigate the tricky construction, but I do think something a touch lighter and drapier would work better. It’s a bit heavy for spring.

Adele dress

I should add that even though the basic fit and style were good, I did make quite a few major and minor alterations as I went along sewing this, which include:
– shortening the sleeves and leaving off the pleat at the hem;
– shortening the back of the overlay by about 1″
– doing a normal placket/buttons on the back overlay instead of the suggested elastic loops and facing
– moving the invisible zip to the side seam instead of centre back…
– …which involved redrafting the skirt, because the side seams of the skirt and lining are designed to not match up. I made the front skirt narrower and redrafted the pleats and darts to suit.
– took about 3″ length off the skirt

Adele dress

If I were to make this again it’d go much faster now I’ve wrapped my head round the construction! Despite what seemed like a lot of fiddling to make it work, I’d still recommend the Adèle pattern if you like the style and feel like a challenge because it’s a neat little 25-page PDF and seems to be well-drafted. I fancy one in a jersey knit with an elasticated waist, and I can see it in a more spring-appropriate colourful rayon print too.

45 thoughts on “Trompe-l’oeil

  1. AvatarKirsten

    I love this! I wonder if I could make a long sleeved version for winter… hopefully by the time I’ve sewn up all the Republique du Chiffon patterns I have in my queue the French instructions won’t be so scary!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      You could probably swap out or lengthen the sleeve easily enough. I have used a few other French patterns but none as complex!

  2. AvatarSam

    I think something like this, but with perhaps a stretchy jersey lining, would be the holy grail of breastfeeding friendly party dresses.

  3. AvatarHelen

    Wow! I really love this and have also fancied something similar for a while (Sezane do similar dresses). Sounds quite a challenging make, but looks like it was worth it! It’s gorgeous.

  4. AvatarChloe

    I love it! I’ve seen some vintage dresses that have a similar look, and have always been drawn to them. Great job, and I like your short sleeve proportions – very nice.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Thanks! I love the sleeves – small thing but a very satisfying detail to get right in terms of design and comfort.

  5. AvatarClaire Newton

    I think this is a fantastic make and I have to say, I think the seersucker gives the dress a brilliant structure that really works with the pattern. The adjustments you’ve made only add to the dress and blimey, I would wear this to death!! I always look forward to your posts as we are similarly proportioned…this is top banana :)

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      I do like the structured fabric up top to give the overlay some shape, but not sure it’s the most flattering on the skirt for us pears!

  6. AvatarGemma

    Love it! I’ve been a blog hover-er for a while, so thought it was high time I left a comment! Your makes are fab and suit you so well! :)

    Gem x

  7. AvatarAli

    I love it! I always like what you make, I think your style is similar to mine, after reading your review of a pattern I often go on to make it myself – you’re my personal pattern tester ha!

  8. AvatarJo

    OH my gosh!! I just bought some beautiful handwoven/printed fabric on holiday in China and have been trying desperately to work out the right dress design for it – and this is it!!! Thank you!! Totally worth buying :-)

    And needless to say, you version is a beaut – love the seersucker!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Hurrah! I was wondering what to do with this seersucker too and it seemed a good match. It can handle a fabric with a bit more structure.

  9. AvatarAimee Elise

    Love the shape of this and the back especially. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to try French directions though.

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  11. AvatarCharlotte E

    What a nifty little dress. This looks like something I would absolutely love to make BUT it all sounds a bit complicated, especially factoring in the French instructions. Oh well…

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      You could always make a toile first to get your head around the construction – it’s a puzzle but not actual difficult sewing…

  12. AvatarFiona

    O Katie I wanted to make this as soon as I saw it released and have been really tempted by Anne’s other pattern too! I’m so pleased you’ve made it as they are described as slightly more advanced designs to make and I was hesitant because of the French… but maybe I could muddle through! Love your fabric choice for this

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      I can see it on you! I reckon you could definitely figure out the construction. I’ll write some tips when I make my second one.

  13. AvatarStella

    Fabulous! I love your fabric choice. This is one of those patterns I would have totally overlooked had it come across my path but looks amazing once constructed. Looks like I’m going to have to hunt this one down.

  14. AvatarFrancesca

    What a great version! I love it in that seersucker. I’ve seen a couple of French bloggers’ makes of this – I like it, but was put off by the lack of seam allowances – you have my admiration:). I grew up on Burda but am so spoilt now with built in s.a. that unless it’s for a knit fabric( meaning I can use my cutter and seam guide) I won’t get a pattern without them.

    I really liked her first pattern too – she is a winner of the French Project runway or something like that.

    I speak French, but one tip I can give you re instructions – if you have any Deer & Doe patterns, their instructions are bilingual – they helped me to make out certain incomprehensible directions when I first began buying French patterns, as my French was not sewing oriented till a while ago:).

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Seam allowance is easy enough to add!
      I didn’t know she was on a TV show, that’s funny.
      That is a very good tip, thank you!

      1. Avatarfrancesca

        Seam allowance is mostly easy to add but I’m kind of anal and worry about how well I’m adding it on complex areas like the top points of 2 piece sleeves, anything with tucks (her first pattern)…. etc

  15. AvatarHeather

    This sounds super tricky and complex, but your dress looks awesome! Did you feel really satisfied when it was done? I love the button back and it definitely looks like something you would wear a lot.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Yes, it was satisfying to have it done! One of those makes that feels nice as an object. But the fabric is just a bit too heavy for it to be an everyday staple…

  16. AvatarKimberly

    I would love to make this dress, but I don’t feel confident enough to get through it without English instructions. Hopefully they’ll offer an English translation…

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