I have recently discovered Tina Givens patterns and have been quite excited about them. They are the sort of loose and comfortable garments I like to wear and her aesthetic appeals to me.
But I am a sewist, and like a cook who can never follow a recipe to the letter, I always make my own adjustments to a pattern to get it to fit the way I like. The Zelda seemed like a good starting point for a cool summer dress, but I am not a great fan of ruffles, at least not for myself, so I decided to leave them off. Of course this means that the body of the dress needs to be lengthened, or it will turn out shorter than intended. The hem is curved upwards in the middle at the front only in the pattern, but I decided to do the same in the back as well, because I want to wear my Zelda with either pants or the Poppy slip, as pictured, and I think it will look better that way. Why wear something underneath and hide it under an ankle length skirt?
I discovered with my first muslin that the armscyes are very large and low enough to show my bra underneath unless I wear a cami. I have to say that if it is hot enough for me to bare my arms, I don’t want to be wearing an extra layer underneath. So I overlaid the armscyes with a bodice pattern I know fits me well, the Tessuti Eva dress. The Eva is a fabulously well drafted pattern and I have used the bodice as a block for all sorts of garments.
But to get back to the Zelda, I am very happy with the result. The bodice part now fits perfectly, no more need to wear anything underneath and movement is very comfortable.
I lengthened the dress by the width of the ruffle to compensate for leaving it off, but it is still shorter than anticipated from the pattern photo. That surprised me, as I am only 161cm tall and dresses mostly turn out on the long side, but it is actually a good length for wearing pants underneath. The outfit has a bit of a salwar kameez vibe, but I find that I am gravitating towards this look lately. It is such a practical and comfortable way of dressing, I guess the Indians who invented it knew a thing or two. No scarf for me though, much too hot for summer, I prefer a statement necklace instead.
My first muslin with the big armscyes is fixable by taking the length out at the shoulder seams and recutting the neckline lower, but I don’t think I will bother. The fabric I used is a viscose/silk mix I bought in Bali, which looked beautiful in the shop but didn’t wash up well. Like most fabrics bought in tropical places it is very thin, which can be a virtue, but in this case it just seems flimsy, and as soon as it gets a bit wrinkled from wear it starts to look like a cheap rag. Besides, it is orange and the only colour I can team it with in my wardrobe at present is black, as it looks blah with lighter colours, and because it is so thin the black underneath makes the orange look dirty. So many traps when designing a garment!
For my second version I wanted a plain cotton in a more substantial weight than the very thin viscose, in other words a normal weight cotton. I have a lot of fabric in my stash, but not that particular requirement, so I bought a flat sheet at an op shop for $2 to see what a cotton version of the Zelda would look like. Success!
So a cotton works fine and I would say a linen will as well, as long as it is not too thick. I also think a substantial viscose would be ok, and a China silk as well. With the latter the see-through factor is a concern, as silk can be very thin, but wearing pants underneath would fix that. I don’t think I would try this in a knit, I feel the style needs just a touch of crispness in the fabric because of the fullness of the skirt part at the sides. I have also got it into my head lately that summer dresses in a knit look cheap. I think I must have seen too many of that variety in the chain stores and it has left an impression. I don’t feel that way about winter dresses in ponte, or dresses made out of a repurposed sheet bought at an op shop for that matter, but there you have it.
So, the upshot is that the Zelda is a very nice pattern for a sleeveless summer dress in a woven, provided you change the armscyes to fit to your liking. The ruffle is charming, but if you leave it off you need to lengthen the main pattern pieces and measure more carefully than I did to get the length you want in the finished dress.
I will be wearing my purple Zelda with Phoebe pants, another Tina Givens pattern, made up in lightweight grey linen. I made changes to this pattern too, but more details in another post.
With the leftover purple sheeting, I am toying with the idea of making it into a Bloom or Poppy overdress. The fabric is a bit plain for that, so I was thinking of printing a design in black. But more about this too in another post.