Sew Over It Penny dress

sew over it penny dress

It was love at first sight when I first glimpsed the Sew Over It Penny dress in my inbox. She was the PDF club pattern in June and I snapped her up straight away. I even printed and assembled the pattern the very same day, which is not like me at all. Progress stalled while I waited for fabric to arrive and then I decided to use completely different fabric anyway. This fabric is quite different to what I normally go for but I really like it.

I got the manfriend to take these photos for me in the park behind the Town Hall 5 minutes from our house and I’m really pleased with them. I also tried to get some little videos to use on my YouTube channel and then some people walked past with their dog and I felt like a right dick. How fashion bloggers and YouTubers do it I don’t know.

Anyway, the dress! I’m a bit in love with it. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times I’m on a zip embargo so I’ve been trying to hunt down pretty and comfy zipless dresses, the Penny dress definitely sits nicely in that gap. I got lots of compliments when I wore it to work and I got to, “thanks, I made it!” to someone who didn’t know I sew, which is always fun.

penny dress

My version is accidentally a bit skimpy so don’t rush in and add length. It’s a midi skirt as drafted, which I don’t like on me. I just feel a bit swamped in fabric as I’m only 5’2″ so I shortened it before cutting it out. I was originally going to cut the length of the size 8 but then I measured it and thought that would still be a bit long so I took 2″ off. Then I tried it on once I’d made it and thought it was still slightly too long so I took about 2-3″ off when I levelled the hem and then regretted it. It’s hardly indecent but I think I’d like an extra inch or so.

I managed to get it out of much less fabric than the fabric requirements say (3.2m for my size) by ignoring the layplan and putting the pattern pieces around the skirt and cutting some pieces on a single layer. I got everything except the back bodice out of the same section of fabric as the skirt.

sew over it penny dress

The details

Pattern: Sew Over It Penny dress

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 40

A0 file included? Yes, 2 pages

Measurements: Bust: 39″ – Waist: 32″ – Hips: 41.5″

Size made: I chose to make a 12 – even though my measurements put me as a 14 – based on the finished measurements. The bust is the only important one in this dress and the 12 has the finished measurement of 41.5″ giving me 2.5″ of ease, which is plenty for my preferred fit.


I shortened the skirt a lot, probably about 6″ in the end, which was a bit too much.

Fabric used: About 2.25m of 140cm wide viscose from Oh Sew Crafty

soi penny dress

Another version?

Yes definitely, I’ve already cut it out and started sewing it.

Any changes next time?

I’ve cut it the same length but I won’t shorten it as much, if at all, when I level the hem. I lengthened the centre front a little bit (3/4″), tapering to nothing at the side seams. The bodice waist seam is completely straight and I find that shaped ones work better on me.

Any tips or advice

Whenever I sew a collar I always trim the undercollar down a smidge (1/8″ at most) as it helps the seam roll to the underside of the collar.

There is an error on the skirt pattern piece, it tells you to cut out two on the fold, when you on only need to cut out one. This has been corrected.

There was a notch missing when I sewed Penny so I found point 12 in the instructions a tad confusing but the notch has been added now. To be honest though, I think the instructions could be a bit confusing even with the notch because they don’t make it that clear that the facing is also the button placket. You’re told to “Very neatly, understitch the facing to the seam allowance, 2-3mm away from the seam. Then, to create the button placket, fold the facing to the inside of the bodice at the centre front notch. Press in place.”  I wouldn’t call it understitching when it is going to show on the outside and I think a fold line on the pattern piece would be really helpful. I haven’t re-downloaded the pattern yet though so I don’t know if they’ve added a line or just a notch. (Edit: SOI have now written a blog post to clarify this step, it’s here. They still call it understitching though and I would definitely call it topstitching but I’m knitpicking.)

I also found it helpful to change the order of the steps. The instructions have you sew the bodice side seams quite early on and you stitch the back facing down as one of the last steps. I did all of the collar steps, then stitched the back facing down, then sewed the side seams last before moving onto the skirt. I have seen someone on Instagram suggest doing the buttonholes before putting the skirt on too. But I didn’t bother with buttonholes and just sewed the placket shut.

sew over it london penny dress

Non-clueless versions:

I haven’t seen a version I don’t like though, check out the Instagram hashtag #soipennydress for loads more beauties.

Final Thoughts

I’m really pleased with my Penny dress and I think it’s a lovely pattern but I think you’d want to have a couple of projects under your belt before tackling it.

18 thoughts on “Sew Over It Penny dress”

  1. Love your version and that fabric is gorgeous! I do like the shorter length (you look like you’re about to break into a jive, and that’s a good thing in my book), though I totally get that you might want to add an inch on. I made my SOI Alex shirt dress an inch too short at the front, and while I know it’s completely decent, I find myself pulling it down over my knees more than I’d like. Looking forward to seeing future versions of this!

  2. Emily - Belgian Seams

    Thanks for the informative review! I’m just about to sew the Penny and your tips on the instructions are really helpful.
    Love your version and the sunny pictures! 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for reviewing this pattern! I’m sewing mine up right now and was just searching for clues about the understitching of the front facing/fold at center notch step. The use of the term “understitching” is definitely confusing but you’ve cleared it up for me. Thanks!!

  4. Love your dress. Your blog has helped me a lot. I am making my first Penny dress (first pdf) and I thought I was going mad when the instructions talked about skirt side seams as it doesn’t have side seams but your bit about the pattern correction let me know it was correct to just cut one skirt piece.

    1. Thanks Alison. I’m really glad it was helpful. The skirt part confused me too, especially as I saw loads of people calling the skirt a circle skirt when it’s actually just a very large half circle. Good luck with your Penny!

  5. I’m making the Penny dress at the moment and am stuck attaching the skirt to the bodice. I need to gather the skirt to fit the bodice but the instructions don’t mention that. Have I gone wrong somewhere?

    1. Hi Mary, you shouldn’t have to gather the skirt to fit the bodice. Has the skirt stretched out a bit? How many skirt pieces did you cut out? It should just be one but I think the instructions are a bit confusing about the skirt. I think I remember it telling you to cut 2 somewhere and just 1 somewhere else. If you do have a bit too much skirt I’d just gather it, it’ll just be extra full and swishy. x

  6. Your dress looks fab! I’m just about to sew the Penny Dress for my mum and stumbled across your blog. The skirt part has really baffled me too. It does say cut two and mentions side seams and I couldn’t get my head round how I could get that much skirt out of 2.2 metres for a size 8! Thanks for sharing this blog post it’s been really helpful 😊.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I’m so glad it was helpful. I suspect that the skirt was originally going to be two pieces and they changes their mind during the drafting stages to make it cut on the fold instead.

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