1940s Tea Dress

Sew Over It


In stock

The 1940’s tea dress sewing pattern from Sew Over It is perfect for an intermediate dressmaker. The dress features a gathered bust detail, a panelled midriff and skirt, flattering elbow length sleeves and lovely contrast cuffs.

What we think: This bad boy is definitely for an intermediate maker, there are a lot of areas that need fitting and it will really come into it’s own in a drapey fabric.

Suggested Fabrics: Rayon and crepes.

This sewing pattern is available in PAPER format.

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Additional information


Chiffon / Georgette, Rayon / Viscose / Crepe, Silk / Satin / Sateen


UK 8 / US 4 / EU 36, UK 10 / US 6 / EU 38, UK 12 / US 8 / EU 40, UK 14 / US 10 / EU 42, UK 16 / US 12 / EU 44, UK 18 / US 14 / EU 46

Sewing level


Make time

All weekend or longer

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What others are saying

  1. One person found this helpful


    This is 1940s style tea dress pattern with elbow length sleeves.

    The sizes go from UK 8 to 20. The pattern doesn’t have any ease. I usually go with size 8 with SOI pattern but this time I had to take size 10 and even make it bigger below bust.

    The pattern suits best for the woven fabrics with drape. I used viscose crepe with a nice floral print.

    The instructions were clear as much as I needed them. This was not really a difficult pattern to make, so I did not need to pay very much attention to the instructions.

    I like the style a lot. However, I think that the style looks nicer with a bit longer skirt. What I did not like was that the upper front pattern piece was too short for me. However, I understand since I have a long torso. I’m more annoyed with myself for not measuring this before making the dress since it is impossible to fix later. The gathers at the bust line and the sleeves were spread a bit too wide for me. I had to move both the bust gathers and the sleeve gathers to make them look good.

    I made the skirt longer and took out some fabric from the centre back. I also moved the gathers towards the centre front at the bust seam and also moved the gathers at the sleeves towards the front and gathered them more closely together at the shoulders.

    I will probably make this dress again. For all my fitting problems the result is something that I think suits me and now that I have fixed the issues sewing another dress will be easy.

    Conclusion: A great dress in vintage style. Check out my blog post here.

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  2. Avatar

    1940s Tea Dress


    I had put off making this for such a long time because of the crazy number of pattern pieces, but it was well worth it in the end. I chose to cut a straight size 16 and made a rough toile of the bodice, from which I decided not to make any adjustments. My biggest risk area was the bust/midriff panel but if this needed adjustment I’d have to make corresponding adjustments to all the related panels. The toile looked ok though and given my nice floaty viscose fabric I was fairly confident of a good fit.
    Construction wise this one was pretty straightforward. The instructions are nice and clear and the only tricky part is the bust, and really you just need to be careful you’re matching up the right pieces (notches are essential!) and take your time over adjusting the gathering. I used my dress form a lot for this and if you don’t have one I’d definitely recommend taking the time to fit to yourself with the help of someone else if necessary.
    Otherwise the construction is essentially connecting panels together and fairly straightforward. I ended up really pleased with the fit and finish of this dress. In a slightly more structured fabric I might be forced to adjust the waist/midriff panel but for this type of fabric it’s just perfect. It’s comfortable to wear but it has the fit that is part of the style of the dress.
    I can’t remember how long it took me to trace and cut the pattern pieces, but for sewing including all construction, pressing, seam finishing and hand-details like the buttons, zip finishing, and sleeve turnups, I think took me around 8-10hrs. But I’m not a superfast sewist and I definitely took my time over the finish.
    One extra detail – I found that even with understitching the neck facing would not stay where it should with this kind of light fabric. At the v of the bust I stitched through when adding the decorative buttons, and at the point of the shoulders I just added a short row of tiny catch-stitches which has done the job of encouraging the facing to stay turned up just perfectly.
    I love this dress and I will definitely be making it again and again!

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  3. Avatar

    1940s Tea Dress


    I used a modal challis from Atelier Brunette. I am still fairly new to understanding fabrics and this sounded quite close to the rayon and viscose styles that I’ve enjoyed sewing with lately. This fabric has a silky feel to it, so it is really nice to actually wear as well as sew with. I got mine from The Splendid Stitch at £15 per metre but be warned, it is slightly see through in the sunshine, so might need a slip if you are making a dress like this one

    The pattern comes in a wallet with an instruction booklet and the pattern itself printed on tissue paper in 16 pattern pieces. The instructions were easy to follow, and contain a glossary as well as illustrations to help make each stage clearer. There is also a sewalong on the Sew Over It blog to supplement these (if you feel like you could do with colour photos too). The only part of the construction that foxed me a bit was the sleeve cuffs. I’m still not convinced I have sewn them as they are meant to be…but what I have got works for me.

    My measurements are an exact match for a size 10 (according to the pattern wallet), similar to my UK high street size. I took in the centre seam by a good 2cm as it was too big but that was my only alteration.
    I love this dress. It wasn’t too complicated to make, and it feels comfortable on. No parts feel too tight or in the wrong place, including the sleeves.

    More pics and details at

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  4. TheFoldLine

    1940s Tea Dress

    Admin TheFoldLine

    Kate: On the tricky side in terms of fitting, with all the panels at the top if you need to make adjustments you need to know what you are doing. Saying that once made up its a great dress, I made it in a rayon so its very soft and had a great drape, which this dress calls for. I also shortened it quite a bit as think this length looks better on me.

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