The Zebra Dress – sewing the Sew Over It Heather Dress

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

Oh look, here I am blogging my second take on the Sew Over It Heather Dress, and it’s a 2021 make. How recent is that? And I didn’t get any of the fabric from Minerva. I don’t even recognise myself any more! Don’t worry, though, I have plenty of catching up still to do. I just felt like sharing something snuggly and weather appropriate rather than a pair of shorts 🙂

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

I had my first go at the Heather Dress back in 2017 and at the time I wasn’t all that sure I liked how it turned out. However, I got used to the more sporty, colourful look and my Stylebook wardrobe app tells me I’ve worn it 44 times since then. Not too bad, I suppose, considering I spent some of that time pregnant and then too large to fit back into it.

I’ve always wanted to have another try at it with a more classic black contrast and dark patterned fabric combination like Lisa Comfort models in the sample pictures on the Sew Over It site. I bought this gorgeous zebra jacquard knit from Fabric Godmother over a year ago (sadly no longer in stock) using a gift voucher I was given for my birthday. The black ponte I bought from a local fabric shop is a bit thinner than the jacquard, but I thought that would probably make the dress a bit more wearable. We don’t tend to get that much really cold weather here in Somerset, although this last week has been an exception. Brrrr!

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

Incidentally, I just discovered that the local fabric shop I used, Steve Bane Fabrics in Frome, has recently closed down for good. Thank you very f8*cking much, Covid. I was looking forward to getting back to doing some fabric shopping in person when the lockdown ends. I guess I’ll just have to travel to Bristol or Bath to be able to fondle fabric lovingly before I buy.

Still, buying online can work out amazingly well at times, and that was definitely the case with this zebra ponte which really exceeded my expectations. It’s super snuggly and pretty thick, but not unwieldy. Fabric Godmother didn’t give any indication of the fibre content but I’m guessing it’s a polyester/viscose/elastane blend, based on my previous experience with pontes. It’s a lovely quality at any rate.

Sewing up the pattern was relatively straightforward as I’d figured out a few changes to make the first time around. It’s much simpler to put the sleeves in flat and I used a different neckband technique–from my old favourite Gertie Sews Vintage Casual (affiliate link)–which results in a flatter, neater finish. I also trimmed the shoulders by 1cm on each side as I’m pretty narrow shouldered.

My only hiccup when sewing it up was when I misread the instructions and clipped the wrong section at the pocket top. Hopefully that won’t be a problem as I overlocked all along the clipped seam which should help it to stay together, but if necessary I’ll put a few hand stitches in there to reinforce it.

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

Now for the elephant in the room: sizing. Last time I made this up I was a bit slimmer and fit into the 10 at the bust and 12 at the hips, but cut a 10 as the internet said it ran a little large. I’m still wearing that size ten dress, but I’m trying to be honest with myself and sew for the size I am now, rather than the size I might possibly return to at some point in the future.

So, this time my measurements (full bust 38″, high bust 37″, waist 31″, hips 42.5″) suggested I should cut a 12 at the bust and 14 at the waist and hips. I decided to go with that. Ideally I would have cut a 12 at the waist too as there’s quite a bit of ease there, but I couldn’t wrap my head around grading that with all the panels and pockets. It was simpler to grade between further up. I suppose I could have risked cutting a straight size 12 but after reading this informative blog post about swayback adjustments I realised that my problems with fabric pooling at my back might be more down to me not allowing enough ease over my bum and hips. I’m actually pretty pleased with how a larger size has eliminated most, if not all of the fabric pooling:

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

Okay, it’s not perfect but it’s definitely good enough for me. I would have liked to take in a bit more fabric at the princess seams but after trying several basted fittings with different amounts taken in at the side and back seams, I opted for a very small amount of slimming down. This was no more than 2cm total taken in on any one seam – probably about 7cm in total – as more than this resulted in lots of drag lines at the sides above the pockets. I wonder if this was partly because the black ponte was less beefy than the zebra. Perhaps it would have been more successful if both fabrics were the same weight.

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

You can still see some drag lines in the photo above along with something strange going on at the back of the arm, but I can live with it. Something I’m still wondering about is whether to peg the skirt a little by taking it in a few inches at the bottom. I’m not sure I’ll bother but it’s possible I’ll give it a try next time my machines are threaded up with black.

Anyway, with all that pointing out of drag lines and possible future alterations you might be thinking I’m not happy with my finished Sew Over It Heather Dress, but the truth is I love it! It’s definitely a bit of a looser fit than I’m used to but there’s enough shape still there to suit me. I cut it a bit shorter (around 2″) as I thought that looked better with the more roomy fit.

The things I particularly love about this Heather dress are the pockets (such a clever design feature) and the zebra fabric. It’s one hundred percent me and I feel fabulous in it. It’s also really cosy on these cold, dreary lockdown winter days. I’ve been wearing it three times a week since I finished it. Yes, it does get washed sometimes. Honest!

My only regret is that I didn’t order more of this gorgeous fabric. I could so see myself in a cardigan made out of it!

The deets

Pattern: Sew Over It Heather Dress (pdf only)

Size: 12 bust grading to 14 for waist and hips

Fabric: Zebra Jacquard Jersey from Fabric Godmother (no longer in stock) and black ponte from local fabric shop

Modifications: shortened hem by 5cm


  • Pattern: £6.01 (originally paid £6 on sale plus £6.02 2x A0 printing, but this is the second use so I halved that total)
  • Fabric: £12.00 for zebra ponte (but only really paid £1.69 myself) and £7.50 for black ponte.
  • Notions: £0.00
  • Total: £25.51 (or £15.20 depending on how you want to count that gift voucher)

Either way, it’s a reasonable price for a dress I love and will wear loads!

On the Sewing Table

I’m currently working on the toile for my Butterick B5526 shirt, by which I mean I’ve stitched it together, realised it was definitely too small, let it out a bit and then realised it needs more substantial work. I’ve let out the front princess seams and pinned in the fabric needed to make it work.

Top row: the size 12 sewn with no alterations. Bottom row, after adding 2cm each side seam and letting out front princess seams. Definitely fitting better now!

It would definitely be easier to pick a larger size in the first place, but I bought this now out of print pattern years ago when I was a bit slimmer, and the largest pattern size in the envelope is a 12. My current measurements dictate I should go for somewhere between a 14 and 18, but I thought I might get away with it as I know Butterick include a lot of ease and I wanted a close fit. Alas, that wasn’t to be.

Luckily I have a copy of the The Palmer Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting (affiliate link) which gives great info about altering princess seams, and really clear visuals. It’s going to be a bit technical but I’m rather looking forward to doing a proper pattern adjustment rather than just fudging it. I can see this shirt being one I make over and over again, so it’s worth getting it right.

As one pattern on the go is never enough, I reckon I might have a go at finishing off my red corduroy Jenny trousers over next week’s half term holiday. These were originally intended to check the fit of the Jenny Overalls I made, but which ended up too low on the hips. I’m thinking an extra wide waistband could be in order!

Next week on the blog I’ll be sharing another very recent, seasonally appropriate make: another Oslo cardigan for my mum, extended into a longline version. Here’s a sneak peek of me modelling it. See you then!

Anna x

Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂

2 thoughts on “The Zebra Dress – sewing the Sew Over It Heather Dress”

  1. Very cute and comfy looking dress.
    OMG. If you’ve gained any #covid1919# weight, it might be your magnificent hair!

    1. Hehe, thanks! I am well overdue a visit to the hairdresser. I hacked some off in the summer to make it more manageable and I think I might have to again soon. Good thing I have lots of sharp scissors ✂️

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