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Sewing clothes has not been high on my priority list over the last 12 months. I have realised writing this that it has been over a year since I last did a clothes sewing pattern review, because I just haven’t done much sewing for myself. But here is my review of the Nina Lee Mayfair Dress pattern. What did I think of it? And would I make it again? Read on to find out!
*Ad – this post features fabric given to me by Minerva – but all opinions are my own and very honest.
The Nina Lee Mayfair Dress – My Opinion And Review
This is the first Nina Lee pattern that I have reviewed on the blog, but not the first Nina Lee pattern that I have made for myself. In fact, the Nina Lee Southbank dress was one of the first stretch fabric dresses that I made for myself. The Southbank is a simple straight long tunic dress with a cowl neck. It was a very easy make, so I had high hopes for the Mayfair.
Why Did I Want To Make The Mayfair?
A few years ago I was introduced to the designer dress label Joseph Ribkoff. For those of you that haven’t come across Joseph Ribkoff, it is a Canadian fashion label that specialises in high end ladies fashions. Their dresses are generally made from cotton elastane, with a classic, modern and flattering style. The Nina Lee Mayfair dress seemed to emulate this style.
Most Ribkoff dresses are made with lovely fabric patterns such as animal print and jungle print motif etc. So, when was gifted this cotton elastane fabric from Minerva, I was absolutely delighted by it. It really did remind me of those lovely Ribkoff dresses. The detail in the pattern design, which feature middle eastern motifs of urns, camels and crosses, really did look like the Ribkoff style.
About The Dress Pattern
The Nina Lee Mayfair dress is a pattern designed for jersey fabric. It is marketed as a jersey dress that is suitable to carry you from office to cocktails. And the pattern says that it is elegant, flattering and versatile.
Being jersey, it is a pull over the head style, with no zips. You can make a long, 3/4 or short sleeve option, and the pattern comes in knee or maxi length.
Strangely, there is no indication on the pattern as to whether this pattern is for beginners, improvers or intermediate sewers. I am very used to making stretch garments, and I did find some of the stages a little hard to fathom and the instructions were not the best IMO, so I would definitely put this in the intermediate category.
Recommended fabrics for making this dress?
It is designed for stretch fabrics with some drape, cotton jersey, viscose jersey or stretch velvet being mentioned on the pattern.
I decided to make the knee length dress. With the longer type sleeve. But i did opt to add pockets. I used the pocket bag pieces from the Nina Lee Southbank as the template for pockets for this dress.
I decided not to make a toile, as I thought as a regular jersey sewer that this pattern would be relatively simple for me to follow. And this was probably my first mistake.
I took my measurements, and found that according to the pattern I needed to make the 20. My 46 inch bust so falls right into this sizing on the pattern.
Check out some lovely jersey fabric here – perfect for this dress.
Sewing Up The Pattern
The Minerva cotton jersey was very easy to sew together. It cut out and sewed up like a dream. It is a lovely easy jersey to work with. But sadly that is where the positivity ends.
Although I am by no means a stretch material sewing novice, I did find the instructions in the pattern were confusing at certain points. They really lacked the clarity of Tilly and The Buttons patterns. (However, they are still far better than some of the “Big 4” patterns that I have made in the past!)
One of the problems for me was how the pattern describes sewing the neckline to the collar. You attach the collar and facing to the back of the dress using the burrito method.
Luckily I have don’t this method with other pieces, but I did feel that I would have struggled if I was more of a beginner, as the pattern didn’t really explain itself well. I could not see a novice sewer dealing with the instructions well.
You have to roll up the dress and sew the collar together over the top, taking care not to sew any of the dress fabric into itself when doing this.
Well, that might be fine for a skimpy little size 8 dress with it’s associated non-bulk of fabric! But once you get to the bigger sizes of dress (like my size 20) then I had a real struggle to keep all the material tightly tucked in whilst sewing the neckline. I really dread what it would have been like had I decided to make the maxi dress version of this dress.
Also, the pattern instructions are a bit sketchy on where to finish sewing in the shoulders, which meant that my shoulder seam looked very wonky. I thought that I maybe just didn’t read the pattern details properly or that I had simply made a mistake. However, having looked at several other sewing blogger reviews of this pattern this was also mentioned by a couple of them. So I am obviously not alone in my interpretation and mistake. Do keep this in mind when making the pattern.
How Could This Be Addressed?
Maybe it would be better if you are deciding to make this dress in the maxi version to use a fine polyester/viscose elastane rather than the bulkier cotton elastane fabric I was using.
However, polyester/viscose elastane fabric is a lot thinner and tends to cling to all your lumps and bumps as a larger woman. I don’t think that I can get away with wearing it.
Here Is My Finished Garment
I have seen this dress made up by lots of other sewing bloggers of all sizes and have always thought it looked amazing. But actually once I had finished the dress for myself I was incredibly underwhelmed. Everyone mentions that the pleated neckline looks classy and chic. It looked great on the dress form. But on my oversized bust it just didn’t really look like anything special.
I did the make the correct size for my body, but was underwhelmed by how it looks on me. I just don’t find it very flattering.
Furthermore, the ruched front part looked ill fitting, and really does need to be covered by the waist tie. But when I sewed the tie onto the ruched part I only had to remove it, as the waist tie was in totally the wrong place for my body shape.
So this is also something to bear in mind if you are making up the dress. Maybe you should consider not going on where the pattern says to place to waist ruching. Instead, try on the dress before making the waist ruching. Then you can work out where you personally need to add the waist tie, to ensure that it is in the right place for your body length.
The Mayfair dress really wasn’t the easiest of patterns to make, due to all the reasons I give above. And I was definitely not happy with the finished result, which is very rare for me to say.
I don’t feel like it suits my body shape.
In fact, this dress simply felt like one huge sewing fail. It did nothing to restore my sadly missing sewjo. The dress just makes me feel really fat and frumpy. It looks horrendous on me, and I feel awful wearing it. It just doesn’t suit my body shape.
I know! This is very negative. But sometimes life is like this. And everything I make is not a win. And neither is is for most sewers. I guess that this is the negative post that I knew was coming.
My love for sewing clothes for myself has definitely waned over the last year throughout the pandemic. And my body confidence and mental health has been hit pretty badly as I have put weight on in the past year due to stress. This dress actually made me cry about how badly I look. Not good.
So I don’t like this dress. I’ll never wear it. And it will undoubtedly be repurposed to make something that I will wear in the near future.
Why not look at some happier sewing posts to get over this negative review ? Lol.
- The Simple Sew Zoe Dress and Top pattern review
- Tilly And The Buttons Indigo Dress pattern review
- The Sew Over It Heather Dress pattern review
Fancy buying this pattern? Buy it here.
Why not pin this post for later?