Joy's Nina Lee Carnaby Dresses

Hooray! The first of my Make Nine projects is complete!

On her website, Nina describes the Carnaby as “a simple shift dress with just enough features to keep things interesting” and I can’t think of a more perfect way to describe it! Obviously, I'm slightly biased because one of those features is POCKETS.

This is a great pattern for showcasing bold or intricate prints as there’s only two darts (yay!) and therefore very little interruption to the pattern. Whilst I’m not usually a huge fan of black, I was immediately drawn to this Cotton and Steel Snap to Grid fabric. It’s subtle enough for work yet fun enough for the weekend, and those 80s shapes and colours are pretty hard to resist. I decided to go for the sleeveless version so that I can layer it during the colder months to get maximum wear out of it:

Necklace: Geo Heaven 
Jumper: Joules

This is quite an economical make and I managed to make the sleeveless version out of 1.7m of 112cm wide fabric and you could use even less if you made the pockets and facings in a different fabric.  As the skirt is separate, you could use two complimentary fabrics such as Cotton and Steels Kicks:

Or mix and match busy prints with solid colours such as:

The instructions are incredibly thorough with comprehensive diagrams throughout. The only feature that was new to me was the exposed zip and even this was pleasingly simple with Nina’s hand-holding! I have a huge stash of 20 inch zips which I usually shorten as necessary for my makes, but it’s definitely worth using an 8 inch zip as it will give a much cleaner finish. The only one I had in my stash was grey and I was too impatient to buy another, but I'm thrilled with how it turned out. 

So, funny story... since starting to draft this blog post, I MADE A SECOND CARNABY. That's how quick it is guys - I literally whipped it up on a Sunday afternoon, and even pattern matched the front seam! Let's not talk about the back. 

I'd bought this amazing Cotton and Steel Beauty Shop Shower Cap print with the intention of making a sleeveless TATB Francoise but I wanted a super quick dress to wear the following weekend to the My Handmade Wardrobe Patterns launch.

As much as I loved the look of the exposed zip, I found that I could slip my Snap to Grid dress over my tiny head without undoing it and thought I'd omit it to save on time. This also meant that I could slightly curve the top of the back seam to give a closer fit at the nape of my neck. I opted for the sleeves on this one in the interests of fully testing the pattern and they went in like a dream! The side seams and arm seams are sewn as a continuous line which is sooo much easier than set-in sleeves.

Make up bag/clutch: Superdrug

I've also decided to make the Carnaby my #SMYLY (Sewing Makes You Love Yourself) make.  I'm afraid I'm not big on #realtalk so I'll keep this light and brief.

Learning to sew clothes has not only allowed me to create beautiful clothes I couldn't otherwise have, it’s given me the confidence to wear bolder colours, prints and shapes and more importantly: introduced me to so many of YOU GUYS.

Sewing used to be quite a lonely activity, but now I have my Sunshine Bloggers on hand to talk me through button hole-emergencies and celebrate my pattern matching wins. Through Instagram, I've connected with other seamstresses around the globe and I can't thank you enough for inspiring me everyday. I'm struggling to sew as much as I used to since starting Pink Coat Club, but there's something magical about stopping everything for some quality time with my machine. I think its the ultimate act of self-love to dedicate the time and energy to something that's tailor made for you and I definitely have an extra spring in my step when I'm wearing my homemade clothes!
Brogues: Snow Paw 
Denim jacket: H&M
Beret: eBay

Thank you for reading.  You can follow me on instagram at @joy.margot & @pinkcoatclub.


  • When you did the back without the zip did you still do it in two halves?? I’ve got the pattern, but when I went to use it the dress part of the pattern is for the Southbank dress 🙈🙈🙈 so can’t use the pattern

    Sonia Wood
  • Thanks for sharing such a nice idea, article is good, thats why i have read it entirely

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  • Love love love these dresses and it’s really made me want to make one! Yay to sewing not being lonely and to finding you in the sewing world xx


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