Christmas ‘Essex’ Dress in ‘Carmen’ Linen | Silk

I’ve had numerous plans for the ‘Carmen’ Linen Silk. It’s such a striking print, and perfect for full skirt swishing. I was very close to making Vogue 1801. The bodice piece incorporates a full fluttery sleeve, and it would be a great option for showcasing large scale prints. Alas, Sewing and the City Patterns arrived at Cloth Edit and I fell hard for the Essex dress. It’s an easy to wear, pull on style, but the design details pay big dividends.

I love the narrow V neckline of the Essex. The bodice construction is superb. The front is self-lined, and very satisfying to put together. Each side of the bodice is cut with the lining (as one piece) and it’s folded back. The centre front seam comes together in a brilliant way. While you might think using a panel/border print like Carmen is challenging, for me it’s full of potential. I loved playing with the positioning of the bodice pieces, and bringing some of the striking abstract blue portions of the prints close to my face.

The sleeves are gorgeous. They’re full (with puffs), and provide space for striking prints like Carmen. To maximise those beautiful blooms I lengthened them a little, and added cuffs. I trimmed my shoulders down a bit, but if I chose a smaller size and did a FBA I wouldn’t have to do this. In the end though, the trimmed shoulders worked fine. I think the Essex bodice is a cracking design, and would be a lovely blouse too.

The Essex skirt is cute, but too short for me. I thought of just lengthening it, but the Linen Silk has such lovely movement that I decided to swap it out for an old Vogue pattern (V8810). I just used it as a guide really. The image below shows how I took out some fullness of the V8810, and how I used the Essex skirt pattern to keep the right waist measurement (so it matched up with the waistband). You could easily get the same effect by pivoting the Essex skirt piece away from the fold and lengthening the skirt pieces. For reference I used two panels for the front, and the same for the back skirt. The bodice took another one (and you can use the leftover section once the skirt is cut out). In all I used 6 panels. I have some gorgeous offcuts which I am using for some patchwork napkins.

The wide elastic waistband is great. It is similar to my Friday Pattern Co. Saguaro/Davenport hack. This is going to be perfect for Christmas or New Year. It’s comfy, for sure, but it is a real statement. It would look killer with heels, but I’ll probably just wear this with my espadrilles.


My advice when using a print like this is to play. It will take a little longer to work out the best way for you to cut out the pattern pieces, but it’s a lot of fun and very satisfying to watch the unique creation come to life. If you find the idea of a dress daunting, then try a full wrap skirt. It would look fantastic. There are other stunning Linen Silk panel / border prints available in the shop too.

You should also check out Sue @sew_spin_knit on Instagram. She made a STUNNING dress in ‘Carmen’ for Perth Frocktails this year. Sue used the more abstract portion of the print as the bodice, and has the most divine full skirt. It’s truly beautiful.

I am full of sewing inspiration, and my next stop is a shirtdress in one of the Toile linen prints.

Happy Sewing,