Nina Lee Kew Dress Hack

Well, I have been absolutely gagging to show you this dress. It has been a long time coming, for sure! I first dreamt up this dress when I bought the paper pattern at The Great British Sewing Bee Live back in September 2017. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to attempt a hack to remove the buttoned up front, and add an invisible zipper up the back. The pattern? A Nina Lee Kew Dress – and what a beaut she is!

And it was fate that the Atelier Brunette Stardust double gauze fabrics were released, right at the time I was ready to start this make. I literally raced up to Backstitch to go buy this, and so began my make.

I will be posting a video on my YouTube channel really soon with details of how I hacked this, but it was essentially fairly simple. I just cut the front bodice and front skirt pieces on the fold, so they were each 1 piece. Then for the back bodice and back skirt pieces, I didn’t cut on the fold (as the pattern asks), and I added 1.5cm to the centre backs, to allow seam allowance. It was pretty simple – though I was pretty nervous to try it on in case I had stuffed it up… that would have been a total tragedy with this fabric!

This was my first venture into sewing with double gauze fabric. If you haven’t come across double gauze before, it’s like 2 thin layers of fabric joined together with the tiniest almost-invisible stitches. The fabric is quite a loose weave, which had me a little worried for sewing the bodice and skirt together. I could see the seam line between bodice and skirt sagging out of shape quite quickly. So I decided to interface the entire bodice with a lightweight black interfacing first. So happy that I did! It definitely feels like it will hold the shape and structure that is needed on the bodice.

I had a little bit of a nightmare with hemming. I wanted to shorten the dress, which I wish now that I had done during the fabric cutting. I ended up finishing the hem by a combination of measuring the dress in a flat-lay, and also by eye. It definitely worked out in the end… but I was holding my breath for parts!

I felt as though this dress/fabric combo was deserving of some real attention to detail, so I ended up finishing quite a few parts by hand. Normally I’m one for avoiding any/all hand sewing, but lately I have found it so therapeutic. So I finished the lining along the zipper by hand, as well as the hem.

The pattern itself is amazing. Clear instructions, beautiful packaging (illustrations all by Nina too!), and everything just works. The fit for me was spot on – the only change I made was to shorten the shoulder straps slightly – but that’s an alteration I would normally have to make anyways.

I am chuffed to bits with how this dress has finished up. I feel like a princess wearing it! And will be wearing it to my brother’s wedding in March. I love it that much!

Pattern – Kew Dress by Nina Lee

Fabric – Atelier Brunette ‘Stardust Night’ Double Gauze from Backstitch

Size made – 10

Alterations made (other than changes for this hack) – Shortened straps


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