Nina Lee

Nina Lee Carnaby Dress

Regular price £9.50 GBP
Sale price £9.50 GBP Regular price £9.50

We print out the A0 pattern sheets, but you’ll need to download the digital instructions, as we don’t print these. The PDF files will be emailed immediately after purchase, and the printed A0 pattern sheets will be dispatched next working day.

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Buy the Carnaby Dress sewing pattern from Nina Lee. A simple shift dress with in-seam pockets, Carnaby comes in two variations: with or without short sleeves. With separate skirt and bodice pieces, you can easily create a striking colour block effect, or keep it subtle with just a pop of contrast in the pockets. The dress is finished with neck facings and closes with an exposed zip at the centre back, complete with a simple zip guard. The instructions are comprehensive, so it doesn’t matter if you’ve never tackled an exposed zip before – you'll enjoy it!

This sewing pattern is available to buy in the following formats:

 – PDF (available to download immediately after purchase). What is a PDF?

 – PDF pattern + Printed A0 copy shop (We print out the A0 pattern sheets, but you'll need to download the digital instructions, as we don't print these. The PDF files will be emailed immediately after purchase, and the A0 pattern sheets will be dispatched next working day). What is Copy Shop?

Suggested fabrics: Light- to medium-weight woven fabrics such as lightweight denim, corduroy, lightweight wool, cotton sateen, chambray.

Fabric requirements:

Sizes 6 - 20

View A: 150 cm (60") wide fabric: 1.4 m (1 1/2 yd) // 115 cm (45") wide fabric: 1.7 - 2.7 m (1 7/8 - 2 7/8 yd).

View B: 150 cm (60") wide fabric: 1.4 m (1 1/2 yd) // 115 cm (45") wide fabric: 1.7 - 2.5 m (1 7/8 - 2 3/4 yd).

Sizes 16 - 28

View A: 150 cm (60") wide fabric: 1.7 - 2 m (2 - 2 1/2 yd) // 115 cm (45") wide fabric: 2.8 - 2.9 m (3 - 3 1/8 yd).

View B: 150 cm (60") wide fabric: 1.7 - 2.3 m (2 - 2 1/2 yd) // 115 cm (45") wide fabric: 2.7 - 2.9 m (3 - 3 1/8 yd).

For the pockets (all sizes): 0.3 m of light- to medium-weight woven fabric.

Sizing: UK 6 - 20 or UK 16 - 28. Please check the size charts and finished garment measurements.

Notions: 8" exposed (non-separating) zipper; 0.6 m (View A) or 0.3 m (View B) medium-weight fusible interfacing; 23 cm x 4 cm (9" x 1.5") piece of grosgrain ribbon (for the zip guard).

PDF pattern includes: Instructions; A4/US letter print-at-home pattern (26 pages for sizes 6-20 or 32 pages for sizes 16-28); A0 copy shop pattern (2 sheets for sizes 6-20 or 2 sheets for sizes 16-28).

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Customer Reviews

Based on 7 reviews
Shift dress of dreams

I have had the Carnaby printed off and ready to use for just over a year and last week I finally got the push I needed to finally sew it. I had a virtual sewing session (thank you, isolation!) with 2 of my sewing friends - Mel and Joy - and we all made a Carnaby dress each.

It's a great shift dress pattern and very simple to make. I even omitted the zip, so I didn't have to concern myself with any closures. Mine is a straight size 10 but I sewed the sleeves at 1cm instead of 1.5cm because I have wide upper arms. I also hemmed at 3cm instead of the what the pattern calls for - I can't remember exactly what it is but it's slightly more.

I enjoyed sewing this but I thought the instructions were a bit lacking.  I'm not sure if this pattern has been re-released but it probably could do with some editing. I had to unpick a section of my pocket when I realised I wouldn't be able to overlock the edge after it was constructed, like the pattern suggested. The sleeve easing was also tricky to do and I ended up with a couple of puckers.

Overall though, I am very happy with the dress and I will be making another one. It was finished in one afternoon and it was just the distraction I needed in these weird times we're living through.


Mel Forrest
Cute and versatile!

This is such a great little pattern! The option to have sleeves or go sleeveless is great and there is potential for some fun colour-blocking combinations. It's a straightforward sew and if you can get away without inserting a zip (as many have), as long as you can sew a seam and a dart, you'll be fine!

I used the most stunning cotton sateen for my dress. The fabric was designed by Alexandra and Caroline of Selkie Patterns London and it features the cutest little watercolour Big Bens! I only bought 1.5m, but this was plenty to make the dress and there was even enough to pattern-match. I used some quilting cotton for the contrast pockets and I love this little pop of colour!

I thought the instructions were fine, but there were a couple of areas that could have been improved and that's why I have only given the pattern a 4 star rating. Firstly, there was very little guidance on finishing seams and in the case of the pockets, it would have been almost impossible after construction. Luckily, I anticipated this and finished the seams before I attached the dress and skirt pieces together. Secondly, don't even bother trying to ease these sleeves in with pins only! I would recommend running at least one row of gathering stitches between the notches on the sleeve head and then you'll have a much easier time.

I made the size 8 bust and waist and graded to a size 10 at the hip. The other alterations I made were to sew the sleeves with a 1cm seam to allow my arms a bit more room and I took the dress up 2cm at the hem instead of 3.5cm, because it's quite short. For reference my measurements are 33"/27"/38" and I'm 5' 4".

I'd definitely like to make another Carnaby dress in the future and there are some cute quilting cottons in my stash that would be perfect! The dress is fun to sew and fun to wear and great to show off a special fabric, especially if you only have a small amount.

Shift dress with options for customising

This is a well-designed shift dress in two sections, enabling colour-blocking for the bodice and skirt. The pockets are inset into the seam between the bodice and skirt, so that you can use contrasting fabric which will subtly peek out. I made the sleeveless version and my review photo shows the exposed zip at the back, an interesting feature of the pattern. I used a linen/cotton mix and am very pleased with the result. It would be good in denim, corduroy, cotton poplin, lightweight wool - something with a bit of structure.
The pattern envelope has attractive line drawings, the pattern is printed on sturdy paper and the instruction booklet is comprehensive. It’s a straightforward sew and took me about a day to make. The exposed zip is a bit tricky but if preferred could be changed for another style or left out altogether - I can get the sleeveless version on and off without unfastening the zip. I made a straight size 12 and found it true to size.
The one slight downside is that, although the pattern includes finished garment measurements, it doesn’t give the finished length, and there are no lengthen or shorten lines on the pattern. This could be an issue if you have a long or short torso, which would affect where the bodice/skirt seam hits. Personally I was a bit concerned that the skirt might be more mini than I prefer and wasn’t quite sure where to add length. In the end I just added a couple of inches to the skirt length. I’m 5’4” and with the extra length it finishes just above my knee.
With that small caveat I found this an excellent pattern which I’ll definitely make again.

Simple dress with well written pattern

This is a simple shift dress but it has pockets, which is brilliant! The pattern itself is beautifully presented, on nice thick paper that doesn’t tear and with a really helpful instruction booklet. I found it (mostly) a pleasure to sew, with the exception of the exposed zip which was fiddly and I couldn’t get it 100% right even after a few tries. I am size 16 but made size 18 as I like it to be loose. There is a bit of excess fabric at the back and I considered adding a couple of darts. If I did it again I would cut the front neckline lower to make it more of a scoop neck, as I find it too high. I made it in thin denim, which is possibly a bit too stiff but hopefully it will soften with time. I made the facing in contrast fabric to match the pockets, but of course you can’t see these when you’re wearing it! Lots of lessons learned here for me, but certainly a pattern to repeat.

Summer dress - Nina Lee

Pattern: Carnaby Dress, Nina Lee – a simple shift dress, perfect for playing with pattern and colour. With separate skirt and bodice pieces, you can easily create a striking colour block effect or keep it subtle with just a pop of contrast in the pockets. It has two variations: with or without short sleeves (View A is sleeveless; View B has sleeves).

Sizing: 6 to 20 UK

Fabric: 1.5 m of John Kaldor Cotton Sateen

Notions: 21 cm exposed (non-separating) zipper, 0.6 m fusible interfacing, 23 cm x 4 cm grosgrain ribbon (for the zip guard)

Modifications: I graded between sizes 8 and 10 at the bust. Overall size 8 but traced out to size 10 at the bust to avoid doing an FBA. Also, I reduced the centre back length on the bodice by 1.5 cm but leaving the side seam as they were.

Fit: all right

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?: Yes

Watch out for: If you are adding the zipper guard, make sure you make it longer than the zipper.

Make Again?: Yes, I want one version of this dress with sleeves as well. I will also use fabric that has more weight such as corduroy or denim. I am tempted by colour blocking or using a contrast fabric for the pockets.