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The Sylvie Dress...a perfect summer dress

Let me introduce you to my latest make - the Sylvie Dress by Christine Haynes. It was a lovely day on Saturday so I persuaded my daughter to take some pictures.  As you can see I am squinting terribly, and Oscar was keen to get in on the action as usual!

There are two different versions of this pattern that you can make. Both versions of the dress feature an unlined sleeveless bodice with three small darts under the bust and a wide lined waistband. I will point out that the waistband looks much thinner on the pattern illustration that it actually is. The waistband is lined and interfaced which gives this section some structure.

The back bodice has darts and the neckline and armholes are finished with bias binding. View A has a gathered dirndl skirt which is basically a rectangle of fabric. The dirndl skirt also has large patch pockets.  View B has piping and a fitted pencil skirt. The illustration makes this look more like an an A-line skirt than the photos on Christine Haynes's website. I chose to make View A as this is more my personal style.

For my dress, I chose to use a polycotton that I picked up for £3 a metre in Hobbycraft. I decided not to make a muslin as the dress didn't seem like it was going to be too fitted but I didn't want to take a chance with expensive fabric. I bought two metres which was enough to cut the dress and the binding although I did have to join my bias strips together rather than using continuous pieces as per the pattern. The pattern calls for 2.75 m of 150m wide fabric or 3.3m of 115m wide fabric so you can certainly save on fabric requirements if you used ready-made bias binding. I think this fabric requirement also takes into account the amount required if your fabric has a one-directional print.

I made a size 8 based on my measurements (36 inch bust) and I made no adjustments at all.  I have to say the fit is pretty good.  It's fitted but not too tight, so makes a nice dress to wear on a hot summer's day.

The dress was easy to sew together and the instructions were very clear and detailed.  The most time consuming part of making this dress was the bias bound neckline and armholes.  I found this quite fiddly and time consuming. The pattern uses double fold bias binding rather than single fold binding, which is basically single fold pressed in half again.  The pattern instructs you how to make you own double fold bias binding. The instructions on how to attach the bias binding are super detailed, however this part can be a little confusing. There are loads of brilliant tutorials on how to use bias binding including this one on Christine Haynes' website.  I posted a comment to ask her whether I could use single fold bias binding and this is her reply:

 "Hi Catherine! Yes, it is 100% personal preference. So if you prefer single fold bias tape, you can absolutely use that in place of the double fold. From teaching I've found that my students prefer the double fold, so that's how I got in the habit of using it. But by all means use the one that you prefer. Glad you like the Sylvie Dress! Thank you!"

It was lovely to get such a detailed personal response.

I think when I make this dress again (and I am planning my next), I will draft an all-in-one facing and see if I prefer that finish.  That said my bias binding is pretty neat but I do feel like the neckline stretched out slightly despite stay-stitching. The only other change I made was to leave the pockets off as I couldn't quite get my pockets the same size.  I think I will make a card template next time and use this to press my pockets into shape. 

My invisible zip is really neat and I am getting really good at inserting them.  The only thing I still find really tricky is closing the gap at the bottom of the zipper tape.  Any tips on how to do this?  I inserted it a little low so also need to add a hook and eye. 

So to sum it up, the Sylvie Dress is a great pattern. It was fairly easy to make and I think an ambitious beginner could certainly tackle view A, although view B might be a bit more tricky.  I am surprised how few Sylvie dresses there seem to be out there in the blogosphere, given what a great pattern designer Christine Hayne's is and how popular the Emery Dress is.  The Sylvie Dress is a perfect dress for a summer's day and is super wearable.

I hope I've inspired you to give this pattern a shot.  I'd love to hear from you if you do make it or if you have any other perfect summer dresses to recommend.



  1. It looks amazing, Catherine, and perfect for this mini heatwave we are having.

    1. Thank you! I can see this dress getting lots of wear if the weather stays like this x


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