This dress is one of my top favorite dresses I’ve made this year! After making the Nepheline Blouse by Vivian Shao Chen I couldn’t get this dress version out of my head. I had already made 3 Nepheline Blouse tops, all with different variations, so by the time I started on this dress I had a good idea of what I wanted to do. It turned out just how I imagined with only a couple of little setbacks. I’ll walk you through how I made this dress, the changes I made and what I learned.
First of all, if you haven’t made the Nepheline Blouse by Vivian Shao Chen, I highly recommend it! It’s a beautifully designed billowy blouse that is most recognized by the sleeve tucks (which I didn’t include in this short sleeve version for my dress) that are easier to sew than they look. It’s also easy to omit the tucks if you want and instructions are included for doing that. I’ve made a version with the sleeve tucks and I love how it adds drama to the sleeve, but without a puffed shoulder which sometimes looks more dressed up than how I want to look.
I chose to include the neck ruffles for this dress, but I’ve made a top with the high neck version without the ruffles which is such a classic look. I lowered the neckline curve 1″ lower then the high neck version (View A). Since I was including the ruffles, I didn’t want them too high up on my neck. That meant that I needed to adjust the ruffle pattern piece length and I cut it 1.5 times the final length of the neckline.
Since this top has an A-line silhouette, I wanted to straighten the sides from the bottom of the armscyce (aka armpit) down. I ended up using the Orchards Dress bodice piece as a guide because I like the width on that dress bodice. You can see in the pictures below how I traced the Nepheline Blouse pattern in order to draw out the new changes. In the picture on the right, I drew a straight line down from the armscyce to straighten the bodice. I did the same thing for the back piece as well.
One mistake I made was that I lowered the neckline on the back bodice 1″ lower from the lower neckline view (View B) instead of the higher neckline view (View A) and ended up having to piece together a new back bodice. That’s why on the back bodice there’s a break in the fabric pattern and a line across almost like a shirt yoke. I could have just cut a whole new back bodice had I purchased enough fabric…I have learned this the hard way so many times, ha!
I shortened the sleeves to the length I wanted and made sure to cut the sleeve binding to fit my arm circumference. I really like the short sleeve look but a long sleeve version with the tucks would be so beautiful as well.
I followed the Nepheline Blouse instructions as stated to assemble the blouse and made sure to baste the bodice closed before attaching the skirt. I saved the buttonholes and buttonholes for last.
For the skirt I used the Orchards Dress skirt pattern pieces and assembled them following those instructions. My tutorial How to Sew a Gathered Skirt to a Bodice also goes into more detail including tips on figuring out skirt panel dimensions.
The fabric I chose for this dress is a gorgeous gray / sage-green windowpane linen from Blackbird Fabrics. It’s sadly out of stock but you can also find at Two O Nine Fabric in the same green I used as well as a toffee brown, light pink and black. Style Maker Fabrics also has it in 3 different shades.
I’ve loved wearing this dress this Fall – a great transition dress into cooler weather – and I think it’s cute paired with a knit vest. I recently finished knitting this Holiday Slipover by Petiteknit and it’s been fun finding ways to incorporate a sweater vest into my wardrobe.
Hope you enjoyed reading about my Nepheline Blouse Dress hack journey! I’m happy to answer any further questions you may have. Thanks for reading and happy sewing!