At the Sewing Expo in March I bought 4 pieces of inexpensive cotton. Three were perfect for skirts, but the moment I saw this piece I knew exactly what it was intended for … a shirtdress!
Over the last month I’ve looked at a lot of patterns, trying to find something that matched the vision in my mind (something Mary Richards would have worn to work). A simple shirtdress with no seams front or back (saving me from pattern matching), and a relatively straight silhouette.
The pattern I chose is McCalls 6885 – View D, but with the straight hem (not the shirt tail hem). Instead of attaching belt pieces at the side, I decided to make a simple fabric belt that I can choose to wear, or not.
100% cotton ‘something’. Is it quilting cotton? Maybe, but then maybe not. It has a fair bit of body, and although it creases it also resists some.
For contrast I used a calico purchased at Hobby Lobby. Thank goodness they have some fabrics I like because visits to any other fabric stores are an impossibility during the week.
For the first time in my sewing career, I’m thinking seriously about fit. It’s frustrating to spend hours on a garment and have the same old problems. The more I sew, the more I notice when things don’t fit correctly. And lately there has been a lot of “that looks big in the upper chest,” and “there’s too much fabric in the small of my back!”
First was properly measuring myself as well as one can on their own. (G doesn’t understand why his tool kit metal measuring tapes don’t work.) My issues are:
- Narrow Shoulders
- Still relatively slender through the upper chest
- D cup, so that means an FBA
- Short waisted (15 3/8″), but long from waist to hip, and long inseam.
Before I made adjustments I read a lot of info online, which led me to, “Am I short-waisted or sway backed?” which I posed on the Pattern Review forums. Thanks to the always helpful and generous members, it was pretty quickly determined that I have a short waist, not sway back.
So my pattern adjustments were:
- Added darts/ performed an FBA (there was no shaping in the bodice) by following the very clear and helpful instructions on Cashmerette.
- Removed 1 1/2″ from both the front and back bodice above the waistline.
- Added 3″ to the length of the skirt at the “lengthen/shorten here” line mid-thigh. This was to make up for the 1 1/2″ taken from the bodice, and also lengthen the skirt for my 32″ inseam
I traced the front and back pieces onto Swedish Tracing Paper and then made the adjustments. If I royally screwed up, I still have the original pattern pieces. Bonus discovered – invisible tape can be removed from tracing paper if you have to redo your FBA about 9 times.
The pattern adjustments went on forever and ever … almost cheesy made-for-TV movies worth. Once sewing started, I used the Islander methods so grouped like-tasks together, starting with the darts, front placket, arm bands, pockets and belt, and then moving to the collar, side seams, sleeves and all the hems.
I added contrasting fabric to the inside of the front placket, and also to both sides of the collar stand. I’ve seen this look in a lot of RTW lately, and thought it would bring this garment up a notch. The placket and collar went together easily.
My thread was fuchsia and it really showed up, maybe too much. So topstitching had to be pretty precise.
For the sleeves I used a French seam so the inside looks nice when rolled up. My arms are average length, and the sleeves are the right length without any adjustments.
The front buttons were moved slightly to prevent gaposis. And the hems were all just folded up twice and topstitched on the machine.
5 hours to adjust the pattern
+ about 7 hours sewing
A good week’s work. My sewing room faces west, and I was able to sew in beautiful Spring light every evening. I think I spent more time than was really needed because it was just enjoyable to be working in the quiet evening hours with bright light pouring in.
I finished the dress just in time to throw it on and run out the door to my local ASG’s Spring event, which included a fashion show.
Can I just say that I am so happy with this dress? I wanted something that I could wear for work, and look professional but not stuffy. The colours are fantastic for hot summer days in a humid climate. The only thing I would change is the addition of pockets.
Happy happy with this one! And now that I’ve messed around with the pattern I will definitely make it again. I even have a beautiful piece of precious fabric in the closet that will be perfect.