New dress: Named Reeta shirtdress in Liberty tana lawn

Oh man, this was one of those projects. I should have finished it about a week ago, but the last half d.r.a.g.g.e.d…. What happened was that I got all caught up on the yoke/facings part of the construction and got slightly frustrated – and then my enthusiasm to finish deflated like an overripe balloon. It’s a good thing that I love the finished result then, isn’t it? I’ll tell you straight up that, quite apart from the construction, the Named Reeta shirtdress is one of those garments that I wasn’t convinced was going to look any good riiigghhtt up until literally the last step or two of the project. It’s amazing what a difference the buttons and waist cording make. It looked very bathgown-y right up until that point – you’ll just have to trust me on that.

In general, I’m actually a big fan of the Finnish Named Patterns and have made a number of their garments successfully. The Alexandria Peg Leg trousers are a go-to pattern for me, and I’ve also enjoyed making the Saraste blouse pattern twice, the Kielo wrap dress twice and the Tuuli winter dress. Nevertheless, even though I’ve been lusting after the Reeta for ages, there was something just holding me back. Perhaps I had some sixth sense about the construction (unlikely) or perhaps I just wasn’t convinced the style would suit me, but either way, I’ve had the pattern printed out and on my “current projects” list for about 2 years now!

That reminds me – I must mention that another reason I hadn’t pulled the trigger on this one is that I was waiting for the right fabric to come along in a minor way and – lo and behold – in a recent Liberty of London sale, it did! I was delighted to see that not only were Liberty having a fantastic sale, but that shipping to the US was FREE – yes, FREE I say! Needless to say, I bought a few pieces and as soon as I clapped my eyes on this one, I knew that, just like a sailor’s bicep, it had Reeta written all over it.

The style of the Reeta is, to my eyes, quite 1940s/50s housewife shirtdress. This is not an insult – in fact I love that it has quite soft lines with that gentle lapel and drawstring waist. For me, though, this necessitated a fabric with a little heft. I think anything too pastel or floral would be very wishy-washy on me. This tana lawn has a wonderful graphic quality with strong contrast that I thought would be perfect. My only slight negative is that the print is so lively that some of the details are somewhat lost – the pocket details and the yoke lines, for example. Oh well.

I found the little yellow vintage buttons on a recent trip to a small antiques stall I frequent when I’m in the area and they were a perfect match! As the print is quite strong, I wanted the drawstring to be noticeable, used a fairly thick Japanese corduroy bias binding I’ve had for some time. I simply sewed it closed and knotted the ends.

Sizing

I cut the 46 and made a 1″ full bust adjustment (2″ in total added). Named drafts its patterns for a height of 5’8″ and I’m 5’6″. I didn’t take anything off and so it’s a little longer than midi (about 2 inches longer, funnily enough) but I think it’s fine. Since the hem and facings are finished before the end of construction, you need to make a decision about length earlier on in the process. I might perhaps try it a bit shorter another time, but if you’re petite, you would definitely want to shorten it along the way, I would think.

One thing I DID forget to do, and this is because I was preparing several patterns at once, I think, was to lower the bust apex. I usually take a photo of my adjustments or make pretty good notes, but somehow I neglected to do either with this project. I was a little concerned about the high darts, but the drawstring shaping actually sorted out some of the draglines, so I just about got away with it. Whew!

Construction

I don’t know what it was about this dress that took me so long really, as it’s actually quite a simple affair for the most part. One thing I always like about Named’s patterns is the detail and this dress was no different. I really liked:

  • The high side slit and the nice easy finish for it. I did bartack my slit openings though, as I’ve found this to be a weak spot that gets easily ripped on previous dresses.
  • The pockets are interesting with their box pleat detail. Instructions are good here too.
  • The drawstring waist I wasn’t too sure about as I don’t always love a drawstring. But I find Named are very strong when it comes to design proportions and I think they got the placement right in this design. The drawstring is placed high enough that it elongates the silhouette, which I definitely like. The construction is interesting as you create a channel on the inside using a piece of ribbon. I used a wide piece of bias binding, and it seemed like it would be a faff, but it was surprisingly fast and efficient, once I got around to it.
  • I do very much like the length of the sleeves and the method employed to create the faux cuff. I will use this one again, I think, as it’s basically idiot-proof.

Dislikes:

My main dislike was the instructions for the finishing of the yoke/facings. You sew the yokes, the collar and the facings all onto the body and then perform a manoeuvre that would make an octopus blush, in order to clean-finish the insides. I’ve done plenty of burrito-style yoke finishes and facing-wrangling over the years that I thought I had a decent grasp of the principle, but the one paltry illustration in the instructions did not help me at all. I looked up videos and reviews, and while some people mentioned they also struggled, no-one could illuminate the actual process for me.

In the end, I worked backwards and gave it a go, ending up having to unpick the whole thing a couple of times, but I got there in the end – possibly by fluke, to be honest. I feel like I might have done something similar to this before, but it’s been a while. By the time I’d worked it out, I was a bit fed up and so procrastinated like a devil for the rest of the project in a slight sulk. It’s not really like me as I like a challenge, but this one was annoying, lol. I’m going to give it another go and see if I can take some pics to help the next hapless fool who tries it out. Maybe.

Overall

As you can see, there are many more likes than dislikes. I’d like to crack the awkward construction, because I feel like I could whip this dress up in no time if I could get that part down-pat. And it IS a very nice dress. Comfy, flattering and a good canvas for a nice print, although it looks wonderful in a solid too. You only have to look at the Instagram hashtag to see why it’s been so popular. It’s a win!

PS. Did you notice one of my buttons was undone in every picture? A gold star to you if you did! Haha.

6 thoughts on “New dress: Named Reeta shirtdress in Liberty tana lawn

    1. Thank you so much! I don’t think collars are too bad at all, but I wouldn’t recommend this pattern for a first time to be honest. The application here is much more complicated than most. Off the top of my head, a Closet Core Patterns like Kalle, or any Seamwork, Liesl + Co or similar project would be a great intro. Megan Nielsen does great instructions too!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Looks great! You would think that Named Patterns would issue a more detailed instruction sheet with numerous photos or a video to help the many sewists that have struggled with their makes as well. You are not the only one. I bought a very expensive silk specifically for this pattern that I’ve yet to cut because of all the complaints. It’s not opaque, so would need to be interlined/lined and ripping out several times is not an option for this delicate fabric. I’m waiting and following for clarification on their instructions. This looks lovely on you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m surprised they haven’t supplemented with some web content or similar by now as it’s a pretty popular pattern. It’s funny, because I found a few reviews where people had sort of murmured about the tricky part, but no-one really seemed too bothered. A few people mentioned the Sew Sew Live video, but the part I needed was out of camera shot, so it didn’t really help me at all. Since I read your message I went and checked Pattern Review (not sure why I hadn’t before tbh) and a few people there have mentioned it. I think the problem for me is the illustration is completely misleading. I ended up doing a version of a burrito roll, which I actually think its the intention, but the picture doesn’t look anything like that. I can totally understand you wanting to be careful with the silk. The lawn was pretty forgiving, luckily. Good luck!! 🙂

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