Challenging, but worth it!

A review of Olya Shirt and Dress

Reviewed by Mel Forrest on 24th May, 2020

I had wanted to make an Olya shirt dress since I heard Tara, founder of Paper Theory, speak at the Sewing Weekend last summer. She was wearing a linen version and I knew I wanted one in my wardrobe! Before I continue I will say that I found this make challenging and I definitely wouldn’t recommend the pattern to beginners.

The fabric I chose has worked so beautifully for the pattern and it’s absolutely wonderful to wear. It’s an 85% tencel 15% linen blend from Merchant and Mills in the colourway ‘London Town’. It’s nice and weighty and has wonderful movement – other than fraying quite a bit it was really nice to work with.

I made the size 8 based on the finished garment measurements and the amount of ease I wanted, so that it was oversized (as designed), but not drowning me and I’m really happy with the fit. I didn’t make any alterations – I thought I might need to raise the hem as I’m only 5’4″, but I actually really like the length on me.

If I was just basing my star rating on the quality of instructions I would have awarded the pattern a 3, but as I love the finished garment so much I raised it to 4 stars. It’s a great pattern with some interesting construction details, but I found areas of the instructions lacked in detail and that has resulted in a finish I am not 100% happy with, specifically the pockets. I’m sure the way the seams are meant to be finished is much better than what I’ve ended up with, but I just could not work it out using the directions and diagrams provided. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter and the dress still looks great from the outside, but because of this disappointment during the early stages of construction I really struggled to motivate myself to carry on with the project.

I do think this is a pattern I would make again, but I would do some more research online to try to fathom that pocket finish before I started! The finished dress is exactly what I wanted – comfortable, interesting and a real joy to wear. I’d like to try a lighter linen blend for a more summery version next time.