Shirt dresses seem to be more popular than ever this year. I’d been hesitant as the last shirt dress I made was not a great success. It was a Prima pattern from about 2002, I made it in navy blue linen and it was scratchy and uncomfortable! Seeing the #sewtogetherforsummer challenge from Sarah @sewsarahsmith, Monika (@rocco.sienna) and Suzy (@sewing_in_spain) made me think that perhaps it was time to try again. I looked at a good number of patterns on The Fold Line and in my stash and then remembered that I’d saved up a few Seamwork Magazine credits, which meant I also had the option of using a Colette pattern.
The pattern I chose is Hawthorn by Colette Patterns and I’ve made it in a (sadly now out of stock) viscose from Sewisfaction with a tiny sailing boat print and an embroidered cotton sample piece from the rummage box at The Shuttle in Shipley (Bradford, UK). The bright pink buttons are from Duttons for Buttons in Harrogate. I used a pdf version of the pattern, which was easy to piece together. The instructions are clear and well written with plenty of illustrations.
With just over 2m of fabric (which was all that Sheona had left of this print) I had to economise a little. This involved shortening the sleeves, omitting the cuffs and reducing the skirt (both front and back) significantly. The skirt adjustment was made very simply by folding the side seam edges of both pattern pieces in a straight line from the outside top corner to a point on the hem approximately 15cm/6″ from the edge, as seen here. This reduction, although significant, still allowed plenty of movement in the skirt.
I foolishly skipped some of the recommended stay stitching around the placket and dress front, which then made it difficult to edge stitch those sections without the fabric puckering as the pieces without interfacing had stretched a little. I decided to understitch the packet edges instead, which worked well and is not noticeable from any reasonable distance.
For years I avoided sewing buttonholws as they never seemed to work very well; since using my Janome CXL301 this has ceased to be an issue as the automatic buttonholes work so well.
I love the vintage feel of this dress. It’s comfortable but smart and twirly so I’ll be able to wear it on all kinds of occasions (even just a walk to the shops). Fore more relaxed days I’ll be wearing it with trainers and I have plans to brighten up a pair of wedge heeled espadrilles that I to give me a smarter option too.