Jolie Marie Louise Lea Dress

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A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to test the new Lea Dress from Jolie Marie Louise Patterns. You might be familiar with the lady behind this new company – she’s Anto, the incredible illustrator and sewist extrordinaire from Stardust and Soul. Her work is seriously beautiful.

Anyway, on to the details:

The Pattern: the Lea dress is a fitted, woven, sleeveless style button down dress with a cute little sweetheart neckline.

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Since I was testing I decided to make the pattern as-is straight from the printer and I got a pretty good fit (I cut a size 2). My measurements are a little more curvy than the size chart so next time I’ll bring it in a bit at the waist.

And when I make the dress again I’ll take a little wedge out of the back armhole, it’s a little roomy.

I didn’t make a muslin ’cause I’m lazy but I’d definitely recommend you make a muslin of at least the bodice. What’s nice is that with all the panels in this dress is it easy to take it in here and there for a good fit.

The Fabric: This is an Echino linen/cotton blend print from The Cloth Pocket. I liked the geometric style mixed with a nature motif (there are little birds here and there on the print). I carefully tried to match the pattern (or blend the pattern) where I could like on the pockets. But I accidentally switched the two center back pieces of the skirt, oh well.

With so many seamlines I think this dress would look great in a colorblock or mix of textures like one color for the sides and another for the center front button placket. You could even try out a chevron effect with stripes.

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The Changes: Just for fun I did hand topstitching in a gold-ish embroidery thread along the hem, pockets, sleeves and front. This print is already pretty wild, why not go crazy with it? And finally – shiny gold buttons.

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Oh, and I kind of forgot to put in the kickpleat (got too excited while sewing up all the pieces, oops). I could get away without one because I could easily walk in the dress. Well, turns out I should have added it – when I sit down the bottom button strains and I’m pretty sure that’s because there’s no slit in the back of the skirt to balance the fabric pulling. I’m going to go back and put it in. Lesson learned.

Lastly – the original pattern that I tested had small cap sleeves, the released pattern does not. So I carefully cut off my little sleeves to match the more recent version of the pattern. The binding method for the armhole is the same so I didn’t even have to go back and sew anything up – just snipped the sleeves off, lol. I think I like it more as a sleeveless dress. Good choice.

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The Result: Overall I think it’s a pretty cute dress! I think I want to try it again in a nice wool suiting or something to make a sharp looking office dress. I love the button-down style, too, and the sweetheart neckline that isn’t too low. Feminine and classic. Note to self for next time – grade down in the waist, remember the damn kickpleat.

As for the pattern PDF itself – very well done, clear illustrations, lots of information on preparation – including a whole page on how to do an FBA on the bodice!

The pattern is on sale now – go check it out! And thanks again to Jolie Marie Louise Patterns for asking me to help pattern test.