Another Shirt-shirtdress

Remember my erstwhile obsession with making shirtdresses out of shirts?

It’s back.

I started this time with (again) the , because it’s easy to make and to wear, and the panel version (for ) is a perfect target for weirdnesses such as this:

This particular dress is made out of (I think) four men’s shirts of varying gingham and stripe patterns (I tried really hard to find all different ginghams but ended up with the stripes, which I think worked out okay).

I thought about trying to cut the waistband so that it too would unbutton, but the placket width was slightly off (and I was more than slightly lazy).

But I remembered to take construction pictures this time! So here’s how I cut out that center front skirt panel from the front of a shirt—I extended the front panel to include the curved hem.

Here’s a closeup:

Basically, I created a new pattern piece for the full center front panel (since it’s too hard to put buttons on the fold) and drew a line to mark the CF, which I could then line up over the center of the buttons in the shirt. (I did the same for the CF bodice and CB bodice & skirt pieces [not pictured]).

For the CB, I was able to keep the locker loop and yoke, which I always like (but not enough to go out of my way to sew myself, oh no):

The pocket backing is cut on the bias from the sleeve (men’s shirt sleeves have a lot of fabric in them):

Here it is, constructed:

A little in-progress view of the bodice:

This is right after I resewed the front pocket to overlap the side bodice piece — I usually use to hold the pocket in place while I sew, because otherwise things go badly.

Here’s the full back view:

You can almost see that there’s a shirttail hem on the back, to mimic the one on the front—here’s a closer photo of that:

And the piecing of that, since I couldn’t get the curved hems on the shirts to match up well with the pieces I was cutting. (I actually like how this turned out better …)

I just took the curved hem bits I had left over and eyeballed how they should match the front skirt, like so:

Then it was just a matter of making sure I had seam allowance on the other side, too:

Finished result:

Unless you already have a lot of old men’s shirts lying around, making a shirtdress out of shirts is not that much less expensive than buying yardage (at least not in SF, where a decent shirt at a thrift store will cost you $5-9, depending on condition and whether or not it’s on 50% off sale that day). It takes 4-5 L or XL shirts for one dress, and I try to limit myself to shirts that are unwearable as shirts when I can—ones with stained cuffs, frayed collars, or minor holes that I can work around. I hear tell there’s a that has a ‘pay-by-the-pound’ sale, but I haven’t gone yet—if you’ve gone, feel free to leave your report in the comments!

I want to make a version that is all different flannel plaids for fall, but finding coordinating flannel plaids on intermittent thrift-store trips is a loooooooong project. (It’d would also be fun to make one in Hawaiian-shirt prints, or one in novelty prints … )

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(blows dust off blog) “Hey, this thing still works!”

Been busier than any number of busy things you could mention (the devil in a high wind; an English oven at Christmas; a bag of fleas) and so sewing has taken a backish seat, but I have managed to make a few more (the panel version for subscribers).

Today I managed to take pictures of one of them that’s been in process for a couple weeks (this is actually a very quick pattern to sew, it takes a couple weeks if you only get ten minutes a day to sew in …).

Forgive the foreshortened perspective … here’s the bodice:

The pockets:

The waistband:

More topstitching:

The back shirring:

And the whole back:

You may be saying, “huh, Erin, I don’t remember the Veronica dress looking quite like that” so here is a (not-exhaustive) list of the things I have altered:

  • added 2 inches to the center front and back skirt so that I could get more fullness
  • changed the pockets from the kangaroo kind to actual scoop pockets in the skirt side panels
  • omitted the center back seam in the bodice, skirt, and waistband and just cut everything on the fold
  • did a FBA (full butt adjustment) on the center back to keep the skirt from being shorter in the back than the front
  • shortened the bodice a bit to lessen the blousiness
  • finished the hem with a 3″ bias band
  • finished the neck and sleeves with bias binding
  • changed the back channel elastic to elastic shirring (with this )
  • scooped the neck about 1.5 inches

As you may have already figured out, my topstitching is not what you would call precise, but I am calling it wabi-sabi and retiring from the ring. (It was fun to do and I think it livens up the joint.)

The fabric is a cotton/silk? blend (maybe?) very very very lightweight not-gray-not-blue-somehow-both chambray that I’m sure I bought from FabricMartFabrics a while back. I would dig through my email receipts to confirm but 1) I’m lazy and 2) everything on FMF sells out in less than a week so there’s no utility in doing so; I can’t link to it. The fabric is a bit sheerer than I expected but I only own all of the slips in the northern hemisphere so we’re good on that front. (And back.)

Considerable alterations aside, this is a very comfortable dress for summer, and I’m all set to make at least, oh, three or four more until I get tired of it. It’s just so darn easy, both to make and to wear! (I’ve already made two others, both in seersucker, that I haven’t photographed yet.)

Next step for this dress is to do a version that has panels in the back as well as the front … and maybe even a version with a flat collar?

a carefree mind of her own (the Seamwork Veronica dress)

Hey, a new dress! This is the (with the , plus more than a few of my own).

Anyway, back to the dress! Obviously, I had to add pockets:

When I saw the subscriber modifications (specifically, the front panels for the skirt), my first thought was “pockets!” and my second thought was “STRIPES!”.

This fabric is a heavyish cotton knit with moderate stretch, so I fused some tricot knit interfacing to the pocket backing to keep them from pulling out of shape too much. I also zig-zagged some clear elastic along the pocket opening edge (although from this picture it looks as if I could have pulled it a bit tighter).

I added gathers to the center front and the center back to add some extra ease, and lengthened the back skirt about 3/4″ for a BBA (bubble-butt adjustment):

Because it’s a knit fabric I didn’t have to put in the back zipper (the dress goes on fine without one). When I make this again I might cut that piece on the fold to get rid of the center back seam entirely.

Also because this is knit, I didn’t do facings—I did bindings instead. I used my tried-and-true “eyeball it” method and ended up cutting the neck binding about two inches shorter than the neck measurement, which seemed to work fine:

The same technique worked for the sleeve bindings:

There are a few more refinements I would like to make—the waist elastic is a bit bulky (even though I used a thinner fabric for the inside casing). I might try it with sew-through elastic next time to get a more even gather. The stripes are a bit off on the front waistband—I thought about cutting it on the bias and stabilizing it with interfacing, but I was too lazy. It would have been a cool effect … Sewing the waistband was definitely the trickiest bit, especially with this fabric. I am sure it would have been easier with a lightweight woven.

The bodice could also be shorter by about an inch, because the weight of the skirt pulls it downward and you don’t get the nice blousy effect you see in the pattern photos.

I’m surprised that this worked as well as it did because the pattern is not really intended for knits (  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) and I changed it *so* much. I made it in a rush because I needed a comfy knit dress for a couple of looooooong plane trips. It held up fantastically, and looked just as good getting off the plane as it did getting on.

Next version is definitely going to be a gray sweatshirt knit, possibly with piping along those front panels, and I’m also planning on making it in a blue-and-white woven seersucker (because you really can’t have TOO MANY striped dresses).

Anyone else sewn this pattern? What were your modifications?