The Leni Top, but make it a dress

Pinterest made me do it, as Pinterest often does. I found this Raey dress (below), saved it and could not get it out of my head. There’s something really appealing to me about wearing loose dresses with plenty of fabric and volume so this simple style immediately served to satisfy that wardrobe need/want, especially with spring about to….spring.

I spent a couple of days contemplating what bodice (also: less booby) pattern to use before realising that the perfect option was already in our Tessuti pattern collection – the Leni Top. I CANNOT believe I’ve never thought to add a skirt to Leni before! First released in 2017, Leni is currently enjoying a love surge, evidenced by all the beautiful #LeniTop makes that have been popping up on our Instagram feed lately. I’ve also spied a few similar styles in RTW, adding further proof that this boxy V neck silhouette is definitely enjoy a moment.

Tibi (left and top right); Oroton (bottom right)

The original inspiration dress was made in a cotton/silk but I knew a cotton poplin would work just as well for this style. I fought every predictable urge to make it in black and ended up choosing this beautiful rich blue Lamatina Navy cotton poplin which also comes in these colours. But if you’re looking for still more options, check out our complete cotton poplin range online.

I played around with the bodice length until I found my just-right point which was just under the bust. The skirt ended up being joined to the bodice exactly 1.5cm below the topstitching of the neckline facing so if you’re going to go for the same bodice length, don’t forget to allow extra for your seam allowance.

For the skirt I used two pieces  – one for the front and one for the back – each measuring 105cm (length) x 137cm (width). Pockets were absolutely non-negotiable so those went in before attaching the skirt to the bodice. I always avoid gathering across my side seams, preferring to have them sit flat, and usually finish my gathering stitches about 4-5cm from each end.

To finish the dress off I went with a deep 10cm blind hem (made easy thanks to my blind hem foot) and a Circa 2023 sewing label so that I don’t need to refer to this blog post when I put this dress on in 5+ years and think “I still get such great wear out of this…wonder when I made it?” Love those makes and I’m hopeful that this dress equals one of those.

Voluminous summer dress was what I wanted and voluminous summer dress was what I got. I’ll throw in a solid side of  comfortable too. Despite the volume of fabric in this dress (I used just under 3m) it feels fabulously light and the boxiness of the bodice allows for maximum skirt ventilation.

Wondering what else you could sew this up in? The Leni Top-to-Dress could work just as well in a plain or printed linen. And a Liberty tana lawn? …well that would just be heaven.