The tiger who came to tea dress

I love it.

I could really leave it there but convention dictates I expand.

Following the attempts to clone the black Whistles dress, I had ended up with some pattern pieces that looked…odd. It led to plenty of prevarication because I was worried it was going to be a hideous disaster. I should have had more faith in the badassness of tiger print.

The fabric helped me out a lot here. It was stable, nice and opaque, and every time I looked down at it’s stripey glory I felt reassured. The colours in the first picture are closer to the true colours than my outdoors pics below. (Please forgive the evil brick wall, this is my first adventure outside and it was a fraught affair. People WATCHED ME.)

As I’d noticed, the shoulder seams for the back and front bodice didn’t match up but there ended up being only a 1/4 inch in difference. There was also a hilariously unlikely pointed shape at the top of the sleeve shoulders but I just rounded out the curve.

When it came to sewing it up the hardest part was trying to keep the inverted box pleats meeting up. I stitched them in place as soon as I had marked the fabric up but trying to get the thick folds of fabric under the walking foot led to them gaping. You can see some of the pleats in the picture below are more successful than others.

If I was to do this again, I might go for some hand basting to keep things in place.

As usual, I used cotton tape in the shoulder seams and finished off the hem and neckline with a double-needle.

Overall it’s a pretty accurate clone of the original item. I haven’t included the patch pockets yet but a dress with no tissue repository isn’t that practical. (Mornings make me sneeze.) I’m going to opt for bracelet length sleeves permanently , since the pattern is at risk of overload and a little bare skin helps tone it down. With this much brown, the dress looks best with bare legs rather than black tights but Winter is still definitely with us. No one sees my ghostly leg flesh til the thermometer hits 23 degrees C.


  • Tiger-print dress. The defence rests.
  • A largely successful first attempt at cloning. Next stop: humans. Or one of my cardigans.
  • My almost invisible darts done in glorious triple-stitch.
  • Just as I was about to install an invisible zipper, I realised the waist stretched and I could sew the back seam up. It goes on over my head no problem.
  • The neckline ended up as a more flattering, lower crew-neck than the original Whistles dress. I can’t be held directly responsible for this.

Love less:

  • Sewing through folds in this double-faced knit/whatever-knit was sometimes a bit of a struggle. On a lot of occasions I had to artificially move the needle on by lifting the presser foot. This is probably some kind of cardinal sewing sin.
  • That I didn’t have enough sense to make 3 bobbins full of black thread from the very start. Why did I use green thread in the bobbin for heaven’s sake? And why are my stitches peeking out at the edge of the waist seam? Ugh. Stitching fail.

Next weekend I plan to hook up with some fellow sewers at So Zo and Sew, Incidentally‘s Brighton De-stash meet-up. I am super-excited/super-nervous. Biggest issue: what to wear.

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10 Responses to The tiger who came to tea dress

  1. yesilikethat says:

    I LOVE this, attempting to clone items from Whistles is probably 80% of the reason I learnt to sew, sadly I haven’t managed it yet. Well done on figuring out the darts. I’m going to the meet-up tomorrow too, see you there.

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  3. Law says:

    Hey Julia, have popped over here via Claire’s post on the meet-up. Glad iIgot to see this dress in the flesh, it rocks! Was lovely meeting you, and I am in awe of your cloning skills. I wanna clone some pj bottoms, might give it a go now, what’s the worst that can happen right?!

    • Hi Laura,
      it was nice to meet you too! Everyone was really cool, I’m so glad Claire and Zoe arranged the day.
      Go for the clone! If I didn’t manage to totally mess mine up, you’ll find it straight-forward. I should do this to my pjs too, I can never find new ones I like.
      You’ve inspired me now!

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  8. Sarah says:

    I love that you used darts in a knit. The dress looks great. I love that book too … When I was working in a bookshop, in quiet times I would dust and read in the children’s section, and that was a classic I got to retread!

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