A couple of months ago there was a flurry of excitement as 3 beauties that I follow on Instagram announced that they were launching a Summer shirtdress sewing challenge.
Sarah from @sewsarahsmith, Suzy from @sewing_in_spain and Monika from @rocco.sienna had decided to come together to share their love of shirtdresses and host a friendly challenge to sew a shirtdress in time for Summer.
I loved that it aimed to encourage all to have a go. The whole point of this sewing challenge is for everybody to have some fun. Prizes are not to be awarded to the ‘best dress’, but given across the board to recognise the enjoyment of participating and sharing with others in the sewing community. For those not aware, the sewing community is the BEST there is and this is a whopping example of why – friendly, kind and helpful interaction between sewists of all abilities, ages and sizes all having a bit of fun together! I’m in!
More shirtdress inspiration can be found at #sewtogetherforsummer over on Instagram.
It also gave me the opportunity to make my first #vintagepledge make which is hosted by the lovely Marie from A Stitching Odyssey. I have written a separate blog post on this here if you would like more information on this fun challenge too! Again this is another amazing way to bring wonderful and creative sewists together and I believe there may be the opportunity to win prizes in this challenge too! Woohoo! Again – do check out the hashtag on Instagram for some breathtaking makes!
A shirtdress is something I had not considered before. I don’t believe that a collar suits me – hence why it is very rare that I ever make anything with one! Whilst there are plenty of sewing patterns out there with collarless options, I decided to choose a collared version just because it was a little ‘out of my comfort zone’.
Rather than buying a new pattern for this I had a hunt through my pattern stash and came across this wonderful vintage Style pattern from the 1970’s I think. (A charity shop bargain at 50p).
I knew that I would need a few adjustments. I wanted to keep it as close to the original design as possible, but it also needed to be something that I would want to wear, so some alterations were necessary.
I was delighted to find that all the pattern pieces were present, along with the instruction sheet. The pattern was already neatly cut out and had pin holes where the previous owner had used it. I can’t help wonder who it belonged to before and what her dress turned out like. So off I set, using an old duvet cover as my toile fabric. I am so pleased that I made a toile, because on this dress I made a TON of alterations!
The pattern pieces are incredibly detailed. Seam lines are shown on all seams, there are more than enough dots and notches and plenty of written instruction on the pattern pieces as well.
The instruction sheet is just one piece of paper which has the cutting layouts on one side and written instructions on the other. However it was more than adequate. I had no ‘scratching my head’ moments, and whilst it was much more time consuming to make up that most things I have made lately, I must admit that it was thoroughly enjoyable.
I used a light/medium weight cotton chambray from my stash purchased at Barry’s in Birmingham earlier on in the year. I had been saving this for something special and I am really please I used it for this project.
I cannot quite decide if I like the buttons undone or done up – but I must admit I don’t mind the collar despite my reservations as to whether it would suit me. It was easy to make and feels soft and comfortable – no interfacing required.
Although I shortened the length of the sleeves, they remain fairly gathered at the sleeve head, maybe my next version would be less gathered at the top here. I can live with this though. My absolute favourite part are the double pleats at either side of the centre front and back. The gathers were pretty on my toile but I just wanted pleats and am so happy I did. Love them.
I did remove some of the fullness of the skirt, it really was much too flared for my liking. I feel that it has the perfect amount of fullness now.
The original pattern calls for a 55cm zip down the centre back of the dress. When making my toile I found that it could be easily put on and taken off over the head without using the zip, so my finished version has no zip and I cut the bodice back on the fold removing the seam allowance that would have been there had I been using a zip.
In brief, otherwise we will be here all day, the alterations I made on view 3 were:
- I cut the toile skirt to the length (using view 3), where the ruffle started thinking this would be a perfect length for me – in fact it was slightly too short and I ended up adding 4cm to the length in my final dress.
- I omitted the back zip and cut the back bodice on the fold instead. It is perfectly easy to put on and take off over the head without the zip.
- I cut the sleeve to a short sleeve length. I could not live with those poofy sleeves!
- I took out the fullness of the skirt quite a bit, it was much too ‘flared’ for my liking.
- I chose to make double pleats rather than gathers either side of the centre front and back and I just LOVE that – it’s my favourite part of the dress!!
- I decided to add an extra button on the bodice band – just because I thought it looked more finished.
So all in all this has been a great experience. I have ended up with a dress that I will wear alot.
It has been quite a surprise that I love this shirtdress so much, given my collar reservations, but I am now browsing t’internet to gain inspiration for another! Who would’ve thought!
I have also massively enjoyed using a vintage pattern and taking part in my first #vintagepledge challenge. Last night at 2am I was still browsing through the vintage pattern selection on eBay – very inspiring! Although quite pricey sometimes – I would recommend charity shops and car boot sales for some great bargains on vintage patterns.
Thank you to Sarah, Suzy, Monika and Marie for organising these challenges, and allowing us to share our own makes and enjoy the inspiration that we gain from seeing others.
Thanks for reading, take care and I’ll be back soon,