Carnaby dress

Nina Lee


In stock

Buy the Carnaby dress sewing pattern from Nina Lee London, a simple shift dress with in seam pockets. Carnaby comes in two variations: with or without short sleeves. The dress is finished with neck facings and closes with an exposed zip at the centre-back, complete with 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!

What We Think: Who doesn’t love a dress with pockets, this simple shape looks great on most body types, if you spend the time to get the fit perfect you won’t regret it!

Suggested Fabrics: Medium-weight woven fabrics such as lightweight denim, corduroy, lightweight wool, cotton sateen.

This sewing pattern is available in Pattern format.

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Additional information


Cottons / Chambray / Lawn / Quilting, Rayon / Viscose / Crepe, Denim / Corduroy, Jacquard / Brocade, Linen


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, UK 20 / US 16 / EU 48

Sewing level

Confident Beginner

Make time

All day

Pattern format


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5 out of 5 stars

2 reviews

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What others are saying

  1. Avatar

    5 out of 5 Summer dress


    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.

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  2. Avatar

    5 out of 5 Quick make + pockets = YAY


    Nina describes the Carnaby as “a simple shift dress with just enough features to keep things interesting” and I can’t think of a more perfect way to describe it! The construction is simple and the large front and back bodice panels mean that this would be a great pattern for showcasing bold patterns with little interruption from darts or seams. Another major plus: this pattern actually works really well in quilting cotton and I made both versions in Cotton and Steel medium weight cotton. The exposed zip at the back is a little fiddly (if you’ve never done one before!) although Nina’s instructions and illustrations are really helpful and clear. I actually managed to leave it out of my second one as I found I could get the dress on and off without undoing the zip.
    I’ve now made two versions: with and without sleeves, although I wear the sleeveless one a lot more as I love a bit of layering! I made them both about a year ago, and now recognise that I would ideally have done a taken a chunk out of the front and back neckline as these are a little gapey on me, but this is something I find with most patterns rather than a fault with the pattern.
    I wrote a blog post about my Carnabys for Sew Me Sunshine:

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  3. Avatar


    The Carnaby dress is a cute shift dress. It can be made as a sleeveless shift or with short sleeves, which I opted for. The separate skirt allows for colour blocking and the in seam pockets and exposed zip add cute contemporary style features.
    I found the pattern true to size with good instructions and line drawings. I inserted my first exposed zip without trauma so they must be good.
    I used a medium stretch denim with a contrasting cotton fabric for the pockets. I lined the skirt panels as I knew I would want to wear the dress with tights. This is one of my favourite makes I wear it with long sleeved t-shirts in colder weather and as a shift dress in the summer.
    I like to take my time when sewing but speedy sewers will find this a quick make.

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  4. One person found this helpful


    Decided to make this dress after seeing it on a YouTube sewing blog. And it really stands up to the expectations I had after reading the introduction on the NinaLee web site. Bought the paper pattern and its a lovely package with good quality paper pattern and a sewing booklet manual for the dress. I find the dress true to size and made just small alterations on the shoulder and went for a longer length on the skirt. Decided not to sew the sleeves in flat but in the round. Wil definitely make more versions of this dress, the sleeveless version is also really nice.

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