Tag Archives: vintage shirtdress

Sew Over It Vintage Shirtdress

I was talking to someone recently who is a pattern first lady. She always struggles to get the fabric she wants for the pattern she possesses & wants to make next. She also finds it difficult to imagine the pattern in fabric other than that which is shown on the marketing / envelope, even if other fabric types are listed. We are all different aren’t we? I am a fabric first girl. What about you?

vintage shirtdress

Being a fabric first girl means I am always tempted when in fabric shops, especially by fabric sales & special offers. I buy fabric knowing approximately what I will make from it, so buy a reasonable length to make ‘a dress’ or ‘a skirt’ or ‘a shirt’ – but will not usually commit to detail until the commitment to make it into something starts.

vintage shirtdress

But the volumes of fabric that are on shelves as a result of sprees and splurges I have had over the years. Just when I think I am making a good dent on my fabric stash, I accidentally stumble into a fabric shop & come away with a few more pieces … I am trying to be more rational with my choices & not fall for pattern as I have done in the past. I am trying to buy fabric with the express purpose for making something for the coming season that will integrate into my current wardrobe…

vinatge shirtdress

But not so with this fabric that I bought in the John Lewis sale in January. This was definitely an emotional purchase. A poplin with stripes of vintage florals in muted colours. Well, more muted than my usual (until, that is, I see photos of me wearing it.  Maybe it’s not as muted as I originally thought!) . It was always going to be a dress, and not just any dress, but a Sew Over It, Vintage Shirtdress.

vintage shirtdress

I have made the vintage shirtdress before when it came out- & it was my most worn dress last summer. A sleeveless elephantine delight. Every time I wear it I get compliments from men/ women, no distinction. It was appropriate for wearing to the office (a little bit of fun knowing my dress was striped with ellies too) & for wearing at the weekend. I LOVE the vintage shirtdress and because this fabric was more muted I thought it would make a nice spring dress with sleeves.

vintage shirtdress

I cut it out carefully to try to match the horizontal floral stripes where I could. I even cut out the fronts one at a time so that I could mirror them in the pattern, and I also did this with the sleeves as well so that they turned out the same.

I adore the rounded collar

I adore the rounded collar

Relatively speaking this is a pretty speedy dress to make I think, despite the collar it seems to come together quickly. It might just be a misperception, but that’s how it seems to me.

Check out a little cheeky button action as well as those cute waist tucks

Check out a little cheeky button action as well as those cute waist tucks

No darts but waist tucks in both the skirt & the bodice (LOVE! So flattering ) I love that the collar has rounded corners…& this time the sleeves. Cute turn up cuffs, all part of the sleeve piece.

vintage shirtdress

Simple. Rewind to cutting out stage – One thing to bear in mind – there are different cutting lines on the bodice armsyce for the sleeved & sleeveless version of the dress. Something to do with how the shoulders would stick up too much when there are no sleeves to accommodate. I saved these extra shavings of pattern piece from the first time I made the dress & taped them back onto the bodice 😉

vintage shirtdress

Luckily I had buttons in my stash – but I was one short so made the top button deliberately different with a feature grey flower button.

vintage shirtdress

So when this dress was coming together I could not believe how this fabric could be made into anything that wasn’t a vintage type dress. It seemed so ‘right’, so obvious. And I am delighted with it. One worth getting the iron out for. And that means a lot coming from the lazy ironer that I am.

But back to the beginning, are you a fabric or pattern first person?  And if you are a fabric first person does it follow that you’re always going to have a greater fabric stash than the pattern first crew?  I’m curious (& it does help me to explain why my shelves are cascading fabric ……!!)

Elephants +Vintage Shirtdress = delight of the highest level

Oh I couldn’t think of anykind of title for this blog post, so forgive the arithmetic!

shirtdress 1

I gave you fair warning in a recent blog post that I was sewing up a cracker didn’t I.  That I had bought the latest dress pattern from Sew Over It – the Vintage Shirtdress almost as soon as it was published?  And look what fabric I had reposing in one of my fabric drawers, just waiting for *the right* dress to come along.  I think I found it, don’t you?  I bought this fabric a few years ago from Ditto fabrics, but it is available in other places too.  Ditto just has pink elephants at the moment (I’d forgotten I’d made a Colette Violet blouse out of this too!) , I even saw the red elephants (such as I had made my Simplicity Lisette Traveler dress out of) last month when I went to Truro Fabrics– in the shop, not online.   This fabric is a crispish cotton, almost a poplin, if I had to describe the drape, but I’m not sure if that’s officially correct.  When cutting it out, I did try my hardest to align the elephants along the horizontal & I think it’s just about worked.  This time the elephants were not too off kilter with the grainline, unlike my red Lisette traveler.

shirtdress 2

I launched into the Vintage Shirtdress for a weekend’s sewing.  i know I am lucky in that I have the kind of existence where I have weekends that are completely my own to do with as I wish, & quite often I finish my chores on Saturday morning & then it’s an afternoon of guilt-free sewing.  Saturday evening might involve a bit of cooking but then once Sunday comes around I get up early for a run in the country with my running buddies & might have the whole of Sunday afternoon to finish what I started on Saturday!  The trance is broken later on Sunday afternoons as I’ll emerge out of my badger burrow (officially ‘sett’) & catch up with family.  Come the sunshine though, the garden competes with the sewing machines…but that’s another story.

shirtdress 3

So we’ve talked about the fabric, what about the pattern?

Well I have seen this dress on Sew Over It’s classes for a while now & coveted from afar.

shirtdress 5


I love shirtdresses, and this has sleeveless (my most fave) & a longer sleeved warmer version (hmm very appealing!).

shirtdress 4

I have made a few shirt dresses already.  You could call the Lisette Traveler dress already mentioned one, then there is Vogue 8829, which although I made the bow neck, actually is a shirt dress too, the Hot Patterns iconic Shirtdress (a knit), an early shirtdress in swimmers’ fabric, my happy denim shirtdress, my swoon gingham vintage shirtdress, Edith too and I am sure i have more patterns not yet made up.

shirtdress 6

So you see I feel great love towards the shirtdress- no zip, nipped in, shaped  waist, open collar – perfect for summer especially without sleeves, potential button showcase.  So why Sew Over It’s Vintage Shirtdress?  Surely I have enough to choose from?  Well, it’s all in the details isn’t it.  I have sewn a few Sew Over It patterns now & they fit me brilliantly and the patterns come together really well, with instructions to match.  But the styling folks!  Its named “Vintage” not without cause- it screams retro loveliness with its rounded collar & gathered yoke.  The skirt is a a generous A line & the bodice & skirt darts are the open kind that are actually better described as pleats- no darts with pointy ends but flattering pleats at the waist.  So lovely to sew.  And if you have a fabric with a design that you’d rather not break up with dart lines ….well this is the bodice for you, as there are pleats, in case you didn’t catch that, and no bust darts.

shirtdress 7

Speaking of sewing then, this is unsurprisingly a great project.  What’s the hardest part of sewing a shirtdress?  The collar I think, you might say differently (eg if you hate buttonholes!  But then there are only 8….).  Yes, the collar & attaching the collar to the neck edge can often be fiddly with differences in ease around the neck edge & the length of collar & facing to make fit into that curved area.  Sometimes I have made shirts/ shirtdresses & the fit requires so much easing that you are supposed to clip curves to enable the collar & facings to fit with a lot of stretching.  Less fun than the Vintage Shirtdress I can tell you.  Unless you like the Bruce Willis danger factor & the unknown of whether clipping will actually fit without any puckers along the way.

shirtdress 8

The Vintage Shirtdress collar & facing fits very nicely thank you without any undue manipulation, clipping or stretching.  Phew.  A breeze.  And the rounded edges even make turning the collar right side out a joy.  Curved collars are ‘my thing’ as I was told once when I had my colours done & had a style consultation too, that due to my rounded face & chubby cheeks (she put it more diplomatically than that!) that I should look for clothes & accessories that are soft & have rounded corners.  Crisp lines apparently flatter people with angular features.  I mix it up sometimes just . because.  😉  But it’s a good rule of thumb for me- curves & scrunchy bags.

shirtdress 11

I made no adjustments to this pattern for fit.  Looking at how it fits me with the belt you can see that the dress waist is higher than my natural waist.  if you look really closely that is. the ellies kind of disguise it.

The fabric’s crispness & how I pressed the collar made me think that I may have had a little bit of extra room in the bodice front, but luckily I was able to ask Lisa, the designer herself (:-) ) for her view when i first wore it & she thought it looked fine & that not to worry as it is designed to have room in the bodice due to the gathered yoke.  I was also able to ask about a pattern drafting question I had.  The sleeveless bodice has a different cutting line than the sleeved version & I understood why that would work for the armsyce but why the shoulder line needed to be different flummoxed me.  I can enlighten you if you have the same question!  It’s to reduce the shoulder pad effect that the sleeveless bodice would have without the sleeves – ie the shoulder stuck up too much.  It was so much better knowing.

shirtdress 9

The sleeves do not have a facing but are finished with bias binding.  I used some floral binding & hand stitched it.  I finished it with red flower buttons as I know i shall be wearing it with red shoes and a red belt sometimes.

shirtdress 10

The dress is loose fitting so makes a perfect summer dress.  I wore it to the office last week & a chap was the first to say, “Love the elephant dress”! before the hordes crowded me with compliments & begged me for my autograph.  No?  You think I am exaggerating?  OK, guilty.

shirtdress 12

Out of all of the shirtdresses I have made, this has to be my favorite.  It is not too heavy on fabric, I  sewed the 8 & maybe used 2.5m but don’t quote me on it, I had a 3m length to cut from and haven’t measured what’s left.  But the style!  It’s so feminine!  It’s so cute.  I am certain that I will make more (I KNOW it’s something I often say with a pattern I love but then take ages, if ever to follow through on, but this is different.)  The dress is one of those dresses that is at much at home on holiday as in the office.  I’d wear it to a BBQ & to the V&A (oh actually the latter is already achieved 😉  ).

So what fabric next?  Lisa has made a version that is a trompe l’oeil (if that is possible in sewing)- the bodice is made out of broderie anglais (white) & the skirt is made out of a navy, so that it looks like separates.  YUM! I will be investigating my Liberty lawn to see if I bought enough & whether I can eeeek it out, but I think the odds are against me there, only having bought 2m & I wouldn’t want that to be a trompe l’oeil dress, not my Liberty.

And if you fancy making yourself one of these beauties, do so before the 8th July & send an pic to Sew Over It and you could win an overlocker!!!  Woo hoo!!!