One Sewing Pattern Three Ways: My Obsession with The French Poetry Leo Dress

Who would have thought that my favourite dress would one day be a leopard print long-sleeved high-necked number with a gathered skirt. I used to hate leopard print and gathered skirts. In fact, I still kind of do. But I realised that I only hate animal prints that look realistic and I still hate gathered skirts in anything but lightweight fabrics. So there we have it. That’s how I’ve ended up with three French Poetry Leo dresses, two of which have coulourful leopard print. And I don’t think that will be the final count.

Leo Dress no. 1 in an Atelier Jupe viscose

Last spring I made my first Leo dress from a lovely light viscose from Atelier Jupe. I has a fair bit of ease, so look at the finished garmet measurements before you decide which size to make. I wanted the dress so badly I didn’t make a toile. The result is not bad at all, but I’m sure your keen sewist’s eye might notice that the bust darts are too high for me and the shoulders perhaps a little too wide, which are things I need to look out for in all patterns. But sometimes the urge to have the final dress is stronger :D.

I adore this dress and wear it often. I am particularly pleased I finally found use for these cute buttons on the cuffs, as I bought them years ago without a matching fabric in mind. I also love the slightly curved high collar. Plus it was the first time I successfully used the rolled-hem foot on my sewing machine, so it was a win-win!

Just a little heads up that the instructions included with the pattern are quite sparse. It is not a problem for me as by now I have plenty of experience, but they are not very beginner friendly. That said, French Poetry have a full sew-along on YouTube if you need more guidance, plus other video tutorials of useful techniques, including how to use the rolled-hem foot.

Leo dress no. 2 in royal blue cupro & tulle

I loved the pattern so much, I knew I needed another version. When I saw this royal blue cupro on sale at Sartor, I snapped it up with the thought of making a short-sleeved dressier version with the yoke made from tulle, and a little slit at the back neckline tied in a ribbon. I did just that, also using the tulle for the ruffles.

For this version, I lowered the bust darts to fit me better, did I small narrow-shoulder adjustment, went down one size to make the bodice even more fitted than in my first version, shortened the sleeve to a cap sleeve (using an existing cap sleeve pattern for reference), and lengthened the bodice a smidge. As for the back, I did not really need to alter the pattern pieces, only the construction: I only sewed the zipper up to the start of the back yoke, hemmed the centre-back edges, and sewed the ties into the collar. I’ve also French-seamed the insides of the bodice, sleeves, and skirt side seams for a pretty finnish.

As you can see from the photos, because I cut the collar from the cupro, which is heavier than tulle, it is sagging a bit – it is not so obvious in the front, but quite obvious in the back where it’s kind of making the slit sag and open up. If I was making it again, I would probably try to somehow interface the centre-back edges to see if that would help. But overall I’d say it was a successfull hack.

Leo dress no. 3 in a fine viscose crepe

My third version also started with the fabric. During my time in Málaga I spotted this gorgeous burgundy leopard print viscose crepe on sale at Ribes y Casals (well worth a visit, they have a few shops around Spain and a great selection of fabrics, including Liberty), and the Leo instantly came to mind. When I came home for Christmas, I sewed it up and took it with me back to Spain for my last few weeks there. I love buying fabric as souvenirs and it feels even better when you can take the finished garment to the place where the fabric came from.

This is another standard version of the pattern. The only change I made this time was to cut the ruffle twice as wide and fold it, because I did not want the lighter reverse side showing as the ruffle moved as it does on my first version. It also gives it a bit more body, as this crepe is extremely fine.

It won’t surprise you that I love this version too and it has also been getting a lot of wear since I made it. It’s comfortable, chic, floaty, but still feminine, even if there is plenty of room for cake!

So have I convinced you to try the Leo for yourself? Or have you already made it?

Till next time,


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