Grey Twill Shirtdress

Grey Twill Shirtdress

So often when it comes to sewing, you dream up beautiful ideas of flouncy dresses that have no place in your normal, day-to-day life. And that’s fine! It’s fun to dream big and play dress up with your sewing machine once in a while. But there’s only so many pretty dresses you can make before they overwhelm your closet. I’ve been making more of an effort to make pieces that are versatile and good for daily wear in my wardrobe. For me, this means dress shirts and shirt dresses that can be layered throughout the year.

I made this garment as a test for shirt dress construction, as I have had no previous experience with it. This was made with the McCall’s 6885, which has one of the most dreadful photos on the front. I don’t know what they were thinking with the floral dress and matching hat! It looks awful. If they had featured the chambray illustration it would be much more appealing. I made the short sleeve variation, out of a fabric that has been in my stash for many years. I don’t remember why I had bought this fabric originally, but it’s a thick grey twill from the S.R. Harris fabric depot in Minnesota.

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I indicated all of the pattern markings using tailor’s tacks, which helped as the placket attachment can become quite a hassle. Reflecting back on this, I should have started with the Grainline’s Alder shirt dress as that pattern has much more clear instructions. Overall, the placket went on quite nicely. I had some issues with the collar stay being longer than the neckline/placket, likely due to imprecise sewing. I also used the straight hem variation rather than the curved hem, as I had read from other bloggers that the curve comes up quite high on the thigh.

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After completing the garment, I found that the shoulders and short sleeves felt tight. This, with the heaviness of the fabric, makes me feel super claustrophobic when I wear it and since it’s been completed, it’s never been worn. I can’t move my arms back or forwards without it pulling on the front or back and being uncomfortable. I believe that I may try a rescue operation on the dress, removing the short sleeves and finishing the armhole with bias binding. Into the UFO pile it goes… Next time, I’ll make it sleeveless and/or consider a lighter cotton or flannel eventually and maybe put a yoke in the back with some gathers underneath to allow for arm movement.

Despite being unwearable, I consider it a learning experience, which I was glad to have on a fabric that has been in my stash for ages!

Olive Sleeveless Shirtdress, or the Damn I Feel Good Dress

Olive Sleeveless Shirtdress, or the Damn I Feel Good Dress

DSC05020After having moved to Des Moines from the twin cities, I had the entire summer free and I knew that I would have to keep myself busy. So I started the summer with a goal in mind: make it through my enormous stash.

Granted, I have seen some other bloggers fabric stashes. Gigantic! As sewers, we often pick a pattern then go shopping for the fabric for it. So our fabric deals and impulse purchases sit in our cabinet, or cubbies, until we make a referendum that they have to go.

This olive polyester was one such fabric. It had been sitting in my stash unused for about 2-3 years. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, I was just uninspired. It has pretty good drape, and I was shying away from anything with a lot of precise sewing and detail. Until I realized that with the magic of spray starch, I could whip out a button up dress.

DSC05021For this dress, I used enigmatic McCall’s M6696. It’s a wonderful shirt dress pattern (with pockets!) that includes three sleeve and two skirt variations. This version is collarless, using the collar stand as a mandarin collar. I often gravitate towards this neckline in my day to day wear, so it felt right at home in my wardrobe. I used the guide provided by Grainline for the mandarin collar variation. I have some puckers at the very front of the collar stand, next to the edge of the dress, because I top stitched the collar stand prior to attaching it. Whoops! Thankfully it isn’t super obvious, but it’s one of those mistakes that only the maker would see. Next time I know to top stitch after it has been attached to the dress.

The skirt of this dress has a total of 24 pleats. Surprisingly, they’re not bad to do! My advice is to ensure that all markings are on the right side of the fabric to make the pleating easier. I first ironed the pleats down using the markings, then machine basted them in place, which worked out quite well. When I went to attach the skirt to the waistband, I ended up having a significant amount of excess fabric to ease into the waistband. The excess fabric was easily hidden behind the various pleats, so you can’t tell from the outside.

To finish the dress, I made quick work of the buttons by using my sewing machine’s automatic button holer and attaching the buttons with a zig zag stitch. I could also see this dress being done with snaps, which would be fun. I finished all of my seams with serging to prevent fraying from within. This makes it feel much more professional. I’ve always been interested in finishing seams with the Hong Kong finish (bias binding on the raw edges), and this would be a good pattern to test it out on in the future.

This is a pattern that I absolutely enjoyed making, and see myself making it again. I already have a plan to make my Ms. Frizzle costume for Halloween out of this pattern. So look forward to repeats of this bad boy!