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Sewing the Penny Dress: Pattern Review

The Penny Dress is one of my all time favourites – I have definitely found that when I find a sewing pattern I like, I stick with it.

There’s a few reasons I love this one – it has sleeves (tricky to find a summer dress with sleeves), the sleeves are grown on (I hate inserting sleeves), the elastic waist (very comfy and flattering), the full skirt (swishy), perfect for viscose (my favourite fabric). I think I have six currently in my wardrobe, but as I needed something to wear to a job interview, I decided to make one more.

The fabric

I used 3.5m of our Viscose – Iris Dots from Cousette. Penny is a great one for viscose – I think grown on sleeves need bit of drape, and a full skirt looks a bit less vintage in a lighter fabric. A viscose also reduces bulk around the waist and the elastic channel, resulting in a sleeker look, slightly more elegant for work. I have made one in a cotton lawn and while still lovely, it does look a bit more vintage and a bit less casual. A soft linen might be lovely.

The sewing

The dress is a relatively simple sew – it’s a good one for advanced beginners. When I first made this I got stuck on the collar/facing/button stand section, as there are a few steps that are different to a standard shirt, so keep an eye out for this. It’s a section where it’s worth marking the notches and going step by step, as it sort of doesn’t make sense until it all does.

The only annoying bit for me, which I struggle with every time, is inserting the elastic into the channel at the waist. I always get it stuck on the seam allowances, especially at the front. Here, I recommend basting down the seam allowances so the safety pin doesn’t get stuck behind them – it’s time consuming but saves a world of pain.

The dress

The end result is lovely, as it always is with this pattern, and I think that in this fabric, I can wear it to a job interview. I made a straight size 12, with no adjustments, and on me (155cm tall), the dress falls to mid calf. The dress is quite soft and elegant, and it’s a beautiful pattern to try if you want a drapey summer dress.

Find more patterns from Sew Over It, or browse our full range of patterns here. If you have any questions when starting your pattern, send me a message on, I’m here to help!

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