A shirt dress is something I have wanted to make for about two years now. I started the process by buying the Alder shirt dress pattern by Grainline and some beautiful chambray fabric with white hearts on from Fabric Godmother. The perfect pairing. I traced out the pattern pieces and then this idea seemingly fell off the face of the earth.
A big part of me was sceptical as to whether the Alder shirt dress would suit my figure. I have a large bust and most of the time I like to highlight my smaller waist (my waist isn't 'small' but it's certainly smaller than my boobs!) so I don't feel so voluminous. So perhaps that was the reason the pattern never saw the light of day.
When the 'Rosa' pattern by Tilly and The Buttons was released I almost immediately wanted it. But something held me back. Again, part of that reasoning was around whether or not it would suit me. I wasn't sure how flattering it would be on my shape. I used to wear shirts for school and a button up is not always the most flattering item alongside a larger chest.
So once again the idea of the shirt dress was shelved but it's always been hanging around inside my brain. Well, recently I decided to bite the metaphorical bullet and I went out and made a shirt dress.
I decided to go for the Rosa shirt dress and purchased the online workshop alongside the paper pattern as it was recently on sale and, having never sewn a shirt before, I figured it couldn't hurt to have some dedicated tutorials to go along side the written instructions!
I still have the heart print chambray I mentioned above, however, I also recently went to Goldhawk Road in London and picked up some excellently bright floral fabric to have a go at a 'wearable muslin'. The fabric is a thin cotton and has some gold detailing in between the flowers. I loved it as soon as saw it but I wasn't entirely sure the colouring would suit me but having now made it up and worn it I can say that I love it! I recently realised I'm happiest in bright colours and you can't get much brighter than this baby.
I chose to cut out the straight size 6 and I didn't do any alterations whatsoever. This is pretty much unheard of for me but I threw caution to the wind and just went for it. It actually fits pretty good. It's not as close-fitting a pattern as I first thought, it's more of a skimming across one's curves type dress so I think that makes fitting a bit easier.
I purchased 2M of fabric as I didn't read the back of the pattern envelope properly so didn't quite have enough fabric. I performed some pattern tetris magic and managed to get the vast majority of pieces cut out of the floral but I couldn't get all the collar pieces cut out due to some of them being cut on the bias and others being cut on the straight grain. I looked around in my fabric scraps and found some yellow fabric (which as a side note, I have no idea where it came from or what I made from it) which I think goes quite nicely with the main fabric. It was a bit thinner than the floral and therefore a bit drapier but I made it work. I actually quite like having the contrast.
The making part went extremely well and didn't take as long as I thought. I've started getting up for work around half an hour earlier than normal and trying to dedicate that extra time to sewing. It's worked out great - I get some precious sewing time in but I also feel more ready to tackle the day after some all important 'me-time' in the morning. I feel so much more productive even though it's only 30 minutes. So with this in mind, it took me about a week plus some Saturday sewing to finish the dress.
This is my first collar and collar stand and I don't think I did too badly. It's not the neatest of work in places but a lot of that had to do with the drape of the yellow fabric but I don't mind. Plus it was my attempt so I'm proud of it regardless.
I used grey poly thread to stitch up the seams and then pink thread for some topstitching details. I was going to get actual topstitching thread but I wanted to dive straight in so I just went with stash thread. I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out. It's a subtle nod to the pink in the floral pattern. I overlocked the seams on the insides.
When it came to the button holes the success almost turned into disaster. I've been sewing for 3 years but for some reason I haven't really done very many button holes. I find them much scarier than invisible zips. I guess the type of clothes I tend to wear lend themselves more to zips than buttons too. I had a slight mishap when stitching the buttons onto the faux cuff - my machine did not appreciate the bulk but after a few attempts on scrap fabric I managed to stitch the buttons on the placket just fine. I don't think they line up as well as they perhaps should but hey, they do up and it's not overly obvious so it's a win in my book!
All in all I'm really happy with the way this dress turned out. It fits nicely, looks great and I feel fantastic wearing it. I also picked up some new skills along the way and enjoyed the making process. The online workshop was great too. It has some interesting tips and shows you exactly what to do for each step. Each mini video is filmed extremely well and is easy to follow along with. I do like sewing along with a video. It feels almost like sewing with someone in the room which is always a good thing in my book.
I can't wait to make another one in the chambray. I'm thinking of doing contrast fabric on the button placket, similar to Tilly's version in the online workshop using some of the fabric I got from Rob's late grandmother. It would be a nice touch both in the way it looks and to add to the sentimental value of the item too. I have the chambray washed, pressed and ready for cutting. Just have to clear some space in the sewing queue first!