BHL Zena dress tested

bhl zeena dress front

So here is my version of the newly released Zeena dress pattern by the By Hand London girls!

It’s had so many wears since I sewed it I’m sure most of you have seen it already but it wasn’t quite right to post deets until the official launch date, which is today, hooray!

This dress is a seriously easy sew. There are no sleeves to inset, It is not lined, having just a neck facing, and you could even skip the pockets if you wanted to make it faster. Though I kept them in as a useful device for holding the skirt down on a blustery day!

The fabric I’ve used is very lightweight and drapey. A lovely donation from Handmade Jane. Hot orange with metallic gold spots. And why not?!

I foresaw issues with the sleeves and the tucks on the bodice if I were to use anything firmer. The skirt would probably be great though. Perhaps another option is to have lightweight bodice and midweight skirt. Those pleats would certainly stand to attention then!

bhl zeena dress back viewBut the more casual nature of this dress is what sold it to me. Especially on balmy days like today. Whilst I do love the fitted princess-seamed bodice of the Elisalex dress, (For the Love of Lawn, The Dress that Nearly Wasn’t, Speed Sewing for Sumer ) It feels more relaxed and cooler when the fabric isn’t so close to ones bod.

There’s lots of fabric going on in that skirt but the classy box-pleats take away that awful poof at the belly as is sometimes caused by gathering. I didn’t take a closer side view shot but I can tell you that the in-seam pockets sit hidden, perfectly inside those pleats. I don’t usually get the whole love affair with pockets but it does seem right somehow for a Zeena. I’ve only ever sewn them in one other dress I think, my Burda Maxi. But that was all together for more practical reasons!

bhl zeena dress side front view

It’s a bit shorter than I’d usually go for but I quite like that. I’ll like it better still once my pins have got some colour on them. They don’t get out very often these days! But there is a longer skirt option included in the pattern if you are after something a little more demur, along with three-quarter sleeves as a choice too.

I can’t guarantee what changes were made to the pattern once I’d tested it but I can say that I had no major issues with this one as I tested it. When I make it again I’m going to go crazy with French seams. Which I should have actually have done this time to save on the finishing!

One tip for those pleats though. Make sure you baste them along the top and down the pleat a bit to properly hold them in position before you sew skirt to bodice. I was a bit lazy with the basting and the pleats separated a little bit. Other than that it was a breeze. And I totally recommend it.

Here’s a link to the By Hand London Page where you can buy the Zeena Dress pdf download if you fancy one yourself. Happy sewing!

Photography by Daniel James Photographic

35 thoughts on “BHL Zena dress tested

  1. Haha, the first thing I thought on seeing the photos was, “I used to have some fabric like that, wonder what happened to it?!” It’s perfect for this dress Janene, PERFECT! I like the relaxed/chic look of this dress and how easy it is to sew up. May well have to add it to my list as yours looks gorgeous. xx

  2. I love your dresses and your photos … they make me feel in the mood to sew, despite knowing little about the subject!

    1. Thank you so much, Helena. I think you might have to try it. I’ve a feeling you would love it very much. And there are plenty of us on board to help if you get stuck! 🙂

    1. Thank you Lynne. I don’t know why I don’t employ box pleats more often. I really like how so much fabric comes together so neatly! 🙂

  3. I love the fabric you’ve chosen, and the style is gorgeous too – you’ve persuaded me to give this pattern a go! I also love the flowery car 🙂

  4. Hello, just discovered and followed your blog. It is such fun! This is a wonderful dress, pleats, dots, sass – it has it all. And the gold shoes! And the backdrop makes me want to go outside and play.

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