Sew House Seven Tea House Dress

Sew House Seven Tea House Dress

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

It’s the story of my life right now. No one I know is getting married or engaged or having glamorous events. Date nights involve a bowl of pho and a beer and catch-ups with friends involve coffees, not cocktails. I’m working from home a lot, and feel I could safely wing it for weeks in trackies and sneakers and no one would blink. It’s all very casual.

There’s nothing wrong with this low-key lifestyle, in fact I’m pretty contented with it – but lately I’ve been longing to dress up a little. As my lifestyle has dipped to new casual lows, my desire to make nicer things in fancier fabrics has been slowly creeping up. Not really fancy, just not polar fleece. And so I’ve been looking for inspiration from people who manage to make a bit of effort each day to dress up, to see if I can up my game a little.


Sew House 7 Tea House Dress


My sister in law is a great one to watch. She’s always dressed up. Not in a posh, expensive way; but in an eclectic, thrifted, vintage, swishy-skirted, costume jewelry and never-without-lipstick kind of way. Whether it’s for the school run, a coffee date, a weekend with our feral tribe of small people in the country or a fancy dinner, this girl never wears jeans. Like, ever. I’ve been quietly observing her lately in the hope that some of that quirky glamour might rub off (I don’t think it runs to in-laws), and I’ve realised that her trick to making it work, to not looking wildly overdressed, is flat shoes. Always flat shoes. The other day she wore an emerald green, puff-sleeved taffeta blouse with high-waisted vintage jodphurs to drop the kids off for a sleepover, but she paired her outfit with brogues, and it all looked perfectly reasonable for a day of domestic duties.


Sew House 7 Tea House Dress


So I’m trying to take some small steps in the dress-up department. I’ve been wearing more skirts and tucked in blouses, even when I’m working at home. I’ve banned pyjama pants for exercise (I swear no one can tell the difference as they look exactly like sweatpants, but I know). And just the other day, when a friend texted suggesting a quiet Friday night drink, I wrote straight back: Let’s go somewhere fun and wear dresses and lipstick. And I had just the dress in mind: my new Sew House Seven Tea House Dress.

This pattern popped up on Instagram a few months ago, and I knew I wanted to try it immediately. I hadn’t heard of Sew House Seven before, but I was more than willing to give them a try as I loved the v-necked, kimono-sleeved, self-belted, flared-skirted promise of this dress – and double-loved the versions made up on the pattern pics. I was keen to attempt a subtle stripe, as I wanted to run the stripes in opposite directions to emphasise that central panel on the dress and the large pockets. But I had no stripes in the stash. Luckily I popped into Tessuti, turned a sharp immediate left to the black section and discovered this black-on-black, slightly textured, self-striped rayon (I’m so bad at technical fabric descriptions, I think that makes zero sense). I liked that it has a slightly retro, vintage feel and the rayon has a bit of stiffness as I wanted the sleeves to keep some shape.


Sew House 7 Tea House Dress


I bought the PDF version of this pattern (I don’t think the paper patterns ship to Australia), and I can safely say it’s the biggest pattern I’ve ever assembled: four A0 pages. FOUR! I don’t even want to think about how many A4 pages that converts to – all I can say is get yourself to a copy-shop. The pattern itself is really clear and easy to follow and I learned a couple of new tricks during the make, which is always a welcome bonus. One is a technique to ensure a woven-fabric v-neck lies flat – you do a machine basting stitch along the edges of the V, then ever-so-slightly pull the seam in (not enough to gather it, just to shorten it a few millimetres), before applying interfacing. I think it worked! I also learned a new sewing term: crackstitch, which is another term for stitch-in-the-ditch (but so much more amusing to my inner smutty teenager).

The only adjustments I made to my version was to leave the wide tie-belt separate (it’s attached either side of the centre panel in the pattern) – as I wanted it to look more like an obi than a belt. I also lengthened the skirt by a good few inches, then ended up hacking half of that extra length before I hemmed it. Better to have options at the end!


Sew House 7 Tea House Dress


Sew House 7 Tea House Dress


Overall I’m happy with this dress. The v-neck seams aren’t perfectly straight (not sure if it’s because of the bumpiness of the stripes on the fabric, or I may have been a little overzealous with the gathering…?), but otherwise I think it sits quite well, it’s fun to wear and I love the slightly shiny, dressed-up 70s curtains feel of the fabric.

As for last Friday night’s plans, things didn’t go quite as expected. At 5pm I was all primed to wear my dress out for a drink. By 8.30pm I was in my dress, dozing off on the couch, quietly relieved that my drink date had cancelled because she was exhausted and just needed to watch old episodes of Gilmore Girls. Sigh. My lifestyle may need some adjusting, but at least I have a dress to wear when I finally get the energy to go out. And in the meantime, I’m just going to make myself wear this dress often, even if I team it with sneakers for a trip to the supermarket.


Sew House 7 Tea House Dress




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  • Love this! Great fabric- perfect for this pattern! I’m actually wearing my Tea House blouse right now! “Crackstitch” make me laugh, too 😉

  • I love this! The dress has not been on my radar but I’m very tempted now!

  • This pattern also caught my eye recently, it’s such a lovely design. I’m a sucker for th v neck/kimono sleeve/belted thing! Love what you’ve done and the fabric looks perfect. Btw you pretty much describe my own daily wardrobe, except for Thursday nights when I have to dress up for work. I must say though, the ‘lounging’ portion of my wardrobe gets much more love than the glamour section. Especially when it’s cold I just want to stay cozy.
    Anyway I hope you do get a chance to wear your new dress as it’s a stunner!

    • Thank you Bella – I think this pattern would really suit you. It must be nice to have one night a week where you get to dress up a bit – I think that would be plenty for me! Kate x

  • I think I need to hang out with your sister in law too. My jeans rutt is VERY deep. I adore this dress. Thanks for the review.

    • Thanks Anna, and I’m with you on the jeans – how dare they be so comfortable and practical (and go with everything!). Kate x

  • Very nice. The v looks perfect to me. The fabric seems seersuckeresque ( totally a word). Clearly this needs to be worn to a Frocktails event! My spring-summer plans for introducing some glamour into my wardrobe include silk tops of various incarnations. But in winter who wants to go anywhere? I’m delighted to be on couch in leopard print pants, a wool knit top, kitty on lap and wine next to me. Bliss. (And crackstitch? Many sniggers).

    • Thanks for your message Sarah. If crackstitch is a word then seersuckeresque definitely counts too! Your winter staples are perfect, and the silk top idea is a great one for warmer weather. I’m a bit hit and miss with finding good silks, will keep an eye out. Let me know if you have any particular recommendations (I tend to just stumble on stuff but sometimes it’s nice to know where to try first, if you’re looking for a particular fabric). Oh – and Frocktails – I think I’m doomed with these events, I travel for work at that time of year and won’t be around, dammit. Will look at all the glam frocks on Insta 🙂

  • Your dress is lovely, the black makes it more classy. I’m with you, I so rarely go out that when I do I have no going out clothes, maybe getting more dressed up everyday is answer, more dresses and accessories

    • Thanks for your message Lynsey – and a big yes to dresses! They’re actually easier than separates in many ways because there’s no mixing and matching, I must remind myself of that more often. Kate x

  • Totally relate to the dress up desire/dilemma and I reckon this dress strikes that lovely balance between. I love it

    • Thank you for your comment Lisa, and for the fabric-encouragement with this rayon, I’m glad I bought it. And btw – we think you always look gorgeously ‘dressed up’ in blog posts, even with the simple stuff. Some people just have the knack…

  • Love this dress! Love your style anyway! Go on it’s perfect!!!

  • Crackstitch! Bwahahahaha! We are so going out for a drink the next time I’m in your town. You and I will get along just fine, if you can’t help sniggering over that. And I want to wear a slightly fancy dress and lipstick too. What happened to my life post-child? I also love my life, and probably would be terribly awkward if I ever actually went out, but it’d be nice from time to time. I really like this dress. I just can’t wear midi-length or below knee length dresses/skirts, especially with body. I just look dreadfully like an oompa-loompa. It’s very sad. So rock it, girl, and I reckon you’d look perfectly awesome and quirky if you paired that number with sneakers.

    • Sounds like a plan Jillian – I have a feeling we could drink cocktails and giggle about crackstitching for hours. And btw – are you sure you can’t wear midi lengths, I think you’d look great!! Kate x

  • I love this post. And I love a dress; its my No#1 favorite outfit.
    Wish I new how to “crackstitch” or what it means, but I also really like the term “Stitch in the Ditch”.
    What about “prickstitch” would that work too?

  • I love it – it looks great on you! The fabric is perfect! And yes – crackstitch cracks me up too so I like to use it wherever I can.

    • Thanks for your message Peggy, I’m so glad it’s not just low-brow Australians who find crackstitching funny! So much love for your Tea House pattern over here, I’ve already cut out a second one for summer and have pointed a few sewing friends in the direction of your site. Looking forward to your next pattern 😉

      Kate x

  • Another gorgeous version of the Tea House Dress. I have a quick questions regarding printing it at a copy shop – just been to Office Works to print it out, but they said it’s too big, and more than A0.
    Did you have any issues with printing?

    • Thank you Rhoda, and good luck with your Tea House dress, it’s such a great pattern. I had mine printed at Office Works, I took the ‘copyshop’ file from the download, and it came up as three tiled A0 pieces. Maybe if you tell them it’s meant to be three sheets, not one, they’ll be able to print them out? It’s pretty huge once you stick the three together, but I found the actual sizing really accurate on this pattern. Kate x

      • Thanks for the advice Kate – 3rd time lucky. The trick was to tell the printer that it ought to be tiled A0 (I got 4 which I will have to stick together)!

        • Glad it finally worked out at Officeworks Rhoda – good luck with your dress and please let me know if you post a photo anywhere, I’d love to see it! Kate

  • Your dress turned out lovely! I just finished this dress last week. I did get the paper pattern sent from the US to me in Australia without any problem. Glad I did as there are a lot of patten pieces as you mentioned. And 5 metres of fabric – I’ve never had to buy so much of one lot of fabric before! But it’s worth the effort for the beautiful end result.

    • Thank you Lisa – the 5m of fabric is a bit insane, isn’t it? But so well worth it, I’ve been wearing my dress a lot. I’d love to see how yours turned out if you’ve posted photos anywhere? Kate x

  • I just finished making this today, and love it! However, I made the size 10, and although it works well (read kimono style), I think maybe the 8 would have been better. What size did you make here?

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thank you for your message, I’d love to see your version of the Tea House Dress if you’ve posted photos anywhere? I made a size 8 for my black one, but I think next time I’ll make a 6 as it’s a little roomy in the shoulders. Luckily with that tie waist it’s very forgiving, size-wise!


  • The dress turned out great on you! I am trying to figure out my sizing for this, as it does seem quite roomy (and I’m quite pear-shaped). Not sure if you would mind posting your measurements and the size you selected to sew?

    • Hi Tasha,

      Thanks for your email. I think this pattern is fairly accommodating of pear shapes (and all shapes!) as the dress is quite wide, the shape all comes with the belting. However, like so many US patterns, I think this one is a bit large for size….? I made a size 8 but would size down to a 6 in future as the shoulders are quite roomy on me. My measurements are: height 177cm, bust 89cm, waist 72cm, hips 93cm. Hope this helps!

      Thank you,
      Kate x