Linen Tent Dress

For my Mood Sewing Network project this month, I wanted to switch it up a little and play with shapes and fabrics that I don’t normally gravitate to. Since we’re still experiencing a pretty intense bit of heat as the summer is sloooowly drawing to an end, the idea of a loose tent shape made with a breathable linen sounded pretty much perfect to me. I don’t know if this style is even flattering on me whatsoever, but right now comfy is winning out and I don’t even care.

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - front

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - front

Normally, I don’t really like to sew or wear linen. I find the fabric deceivingly shifty – which is super weird because it feels like it should be stable, you know? – and difficult to cut straight. Once you do manage to get it cut, you’re entering a neverending battle against the constant shedding and fraying. Should you manage to make your way to victory, then you get to contend with 24/7 wrinkles. I mean, I know some fabrics just get wrinkly from wearing them around – that’s typical with most natural fibers in general, aka, the stuff I like to wear the most – but even just giving linen the stink eye makes it ball up like it’s trying to make it’s way into the fetal position. I’ve never been a huge fan of the soft rumples that come with linen territory, but I’m expanding my horizons. Also, it’s really really hot outside.

Soooo I took one for the team and decided to give linen another chance. I bought a couple yards of this dark blue heavy linen (at the time, only dark blue was available – but it looks like they have other colors now, yay!) from Mood Fabrics website, and figured I could decide on a pattern once I was able to get a feel for the fabric to determine how heavy it was. It’s pretty nice stuff – heavier than your typical floaty (aka shifty) linen, but it’s not as heavy as the linen that is used for upholstery. Honestly, it would work just as well for a pair of wide-legged pants – which was what I originally considered doing with it (aaaand now I will be adding some of that red linen to my cart because, RED PANTS). Because it’s on the heavier side, it’s not as shifty when you’re cutting it. It does still fray like crazy, but I just made sure to serge all my raw edges and that problem was immediately solved. It does wrinkle a little bit, but not nearly as much as the light weight linens. Just those big, soft rumples that fall out fairly quickly. I like!!

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - side

Sewing this was as quick and easy as one could hope for. It sews and presses like a dream, and doesn’t require any special care (other than making sure you finish those edges in some way, because they will fray on you!). I used the Sway dress from Papercut Patterns as my pattern, which is a very simple pattern with very few seamlines. Perfect for a big ol’ breezy tent dress! And thanks to the breezy shape of the dress paired with the wonderful breathability of the linen, this is a HELLUVA good outfit for hot weather! Look, I don’t even have to match pants to it. It is perfect.

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - front

And it’s completely reversible, so I can wear the front as the back and vice versa. MAGIC, Y’ALL.

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - back

By the way, are you experiencing a bit of déjà vu? That’s because I somehow managed to not only make the same dress as Sonja, but also schedule to publish it within a couple days of each other! Whoops? 🙂 I guess we are experiencing a similar wavelength right now, haha! 🙂



  • Marina G. Villalobos
    September 2, 2015

    Hello Lladybird!

    I always enjoy your posts. You are, most definitely, a talented sewer with excellent taste. And, let’s face it, a burlap bag would look good on you and this dress is, most certainly, not that. It looks adorable on you.

    I read somewhere if one irons linen with a hot iron and steam before washing, it will not tend to wrinkle as badly afterwards. It was also recommended that one wash and dry it three times before cutting out which completely eliminates the possibility of shrinking later on. I have tried this method of pretreating linen and it seems to me, it improves the wearability.

    Keep your excellent posts coming. Your writing is entertaining and inspiring.


    • Lauren
      September 8, 2015

      HI Marina!

      Thank you so much for the nice comment 🙂 This is definitely a new silhouette for me to wear, but it’s fun (and comfortable!) so I’m enjoying the change 🙂

      I have heard from a few people to try pretreating linen with a hot iron and steam, and I do want to try that at some point. I actually don’t dry my linen in the dryer (I mean, once it’s been sewn into a garment – I do prewash and preshrink in the dryer when it’s still yardage), because I hate ironing out wrinkles! I just give everything a good shake and hang it to dry, which gives nice, soft rumbles and doesn’t really need ironing. But there is always the chance of it getting accidentally thrown in the dryer, so I should probably prewash a couple extra times just to be safe. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  • Fiona
    September 10, 2015

    Gorgeous! I’m totally with you on not usually loving loose fitting styles but I always wish I could pull them off, maybe I should try the Sway Dress…
    It’s really interesting to see yours and Sonja’s close to each other actually as they are made in totally different fabrics. They’re totally different dresses and I love them both which I think indicates a good pattern to invest in!

    • Lauren
      September 11, 2015

      OMG Fiona, a tent dress like this would be so perfect on you! Do it, do it!!

  • Cennetta
    September 16, 2015

    Lauren, Love your frankness. Comfy always wins when the heat is on! Bravo to you for not being afraid to try new things. I think this is a cute, comfy little dress.