Sewing By Hand London’s Tamzin

I have now made two different versions of this pattern – one as a top, and the second as a dress and I can confirm that I absolutely *love* it, and will definitely be making many more.

Tamzin is a dress pattern inspired by folklore and cottage-core styles. It has a square neckline with the neck facing topstitched onto the outside of the dress. The sleeves are about three-quarter length, with a loose fit and neat little tucks which also appear on the skirt. There are two options for the belt detail at the waist – either a back tie or a thicker front tie. For both of my garments I chose to use the front tie as I think it creates a nicer, more cinched shape on me personally.

BHL’s most recent patterns come in two size bands – UK 6-24 and 16-34 and are available in both PDF and paper formats across both size bands. I purchased the paper pattern in the 16-34 size range. The bigger size range is drafted to a D cup (note for beginners, this does not necessarily correspond to your bra cup size!) and the smaller is drafted to a B cup. The finished bust measurements in the 16-34 size range span from 44 to 67.5 inches – hooray!

My measurements fit in to the size 22/26 size in the original measurements table, but I sized down after looking at the finished measurements and ended up making the size 20/24. One of the reasons I love this pattern is because the fitting is really easy. There is a lot of give in the bodice, skirt and sleeves, but the belt options create a lovely shape overall. I made a tiny adjustment to the shoulders, bringing them in 1/4 inch on each side. I could have bought them in the same amount again, but the current fit works too. Aside from that I made no adjustments – next time I might shorten the sleeves slightly but it is important to do this at the pattern cutting stage as the tucks make it trickier to adjust the sleeve length when you hem it like I usually would.

I had initially been planning on making the dress as my Sew Yellow for Endo entry, a campaign to raise awareness around endometriosis that runs throughout March. I bought a lovely yellow cotton from Fabrics Galore London (it is no longer in stock, but you can find some nice floral prints here), and had images of myself frolicking through a meadow in my lovely yellow dress. Unfortunately, I was so busy mentally frolicking that I had forgotten to check the fabric width, and once it arrived I realised fairly swiftly that the skirt pieces would not fit on to the fabric, and that I didn’t have enough length to split the pieces in to fragments. This is why I ended up making a top.

In order to do this, I cut two pieces the same width as the skirt piece would have been (I had to place them lengthways instead of widthways) and made the peplum as long as I could make them with the fabric available. I then waited until the rest of the top was sewn before deciding what length I would like the peplum and trimmed and hemmed accordingly.

The lovely Esther, also known as Nine to Stitch is the model for Tamzin and her versions were my main inspiration to begin with. She made a beautiful top with the tucks on the peplum too. I think I saw her say that she had done this using the pattern pieces from the sleeves but I can’t remember where I saw that now. If I make another top version I will definitely add the tucks next time.

Generally I found it a fairly easy sew on both occasions. The instruction booklet is really easy to follow and has clear illustrations to accompany each step. When making the top I had to follow a video to fully understand how the tucks worked, but once the first one is done it is nice and easy. I followed Nine to Stitch’s Sewalong video (which you can find here). I had no problem sewing them the second time. My neckline was also a little messy at first. You need to clip the corners in the seam allowance to allow the corners on the square neckline to be really neat, and also trust that when you top stitch the facing it will look a lot better!

After I finished sewing the top I was keen to have a go at the dress too but ideally wanted to use fabric from my stash. I went for a floral viscose from Rainbow Fabrics, again this is no longer in stock but you can find something similar here. It has a really nice drape to it and a little bit of weight too, meaning it is ideal for a spring dress as it isn’t too flimsy.

I found pressing the tucks in the skirt a little trickier than with the sleeves as the weight of the fabric kept pulling it down in the middle so it wasn’t straight, but when I moved to the dining room table it was a bit easier and they do look nice. I also added this cute little label which was gifted by Little Rosy Cheeks to the back neckline which was the perfect finishing touch.

Overall I am really thrilled with the garments and will definitely come back to this pattern again and again. As I said previously, the fitting is really simple, but the details, from the neckline to the tucks make the dress a little bit special.

There are some lovely versions on IG with embellished or embroidered neck facing which I would love to try at some point for some added glamour or whimsy (depending on what you add!). My fabric stash is all prints, but I would love to make another one in a solid colour to bring out the tuck details a little more.

Also, for the busty ladies out there, this dress/top has an interesting neckline which is nice and open, but also work appropriate – yay! I work in schools sometimes and finding workwear, especially in the summer months can be a nightmare so this dress is a really great option.

What kind of fabric would you use for your Tamzin? Let me know in the comments.

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