Just after I finished making my last shirt dress, I looked on the Pattern Review web site and found that there was a shirt dress contest going on at the moment. It started two days after I made my first shirt dress so that dress was ineligible. However that just gave me an excuse to make another new dress.
I wasn't 100% happy with my first shirt dress, whilst it's pretty, and comfortable and will therefore be worn tonnes, it is still a touch shapeless which is not my favourite silhouette, so I decided I would start again from scratch to make a more fitted pattern.
I found a piece of plain cotton in my stash and drew horizontal and vertical lines all over it and then used that to start draping a pattern. I started with the neckline and armholes from previous patterns that I'm happy with and then started shaping. I made one princess seam right down the front of my dress from the neckline and over the bust point to give good shaping over and under the bust.
A second princess seam was added about 2/3 of the way down the front arm hole to give further shaping through the bust.
I balanced this with a side seam that was shifted slightly to the back of my body and provides just a touch of shaping.
Now I could think about materials. I knew exactly which of my materials I wanted to use. I found this beautiful blue rayon a couple of months ago and loved it so much I bought 6 yards of it. It's the weight and feel of a linen but was marked as 100% rayon. It's patterned in shades of blue with darker blue bamboo and birds and flowers with pops of yellow in the flower blooms.
When it came to making the dress out of my final material, I extended all my seams full length. I added no flare to the front seams and only a very slight flare to the two side princess seams to create a more sleek silhouette. Each seam was sewn as a french seam so the insides of the dress are as pretty as the outside.
I added a button band down the front of the dress hand stitching the inner layer for a clean finish. I left the two side front seams open about halfway up my thigh.
The free edges I turned under twice and stitched.
The hem is also tuned under 1/2" twice and top stitched.
I drafted small cap sleeves to fit my arm holes. The edges are finished by turning under twice.
The neckline came about from a picture of a mandarin collar that was higher in the front than in the back. I made a basic mandarin collar that was wider at the front than the back and basted it to my muslin, but with the shape that I had cut my neckline it really didn't work. However if I shaped the collar a bit more I found that it made a really cute keyhole type detail at the front neckline, so I modified my collar piece and neckline to create this feature. Again the collar is finished by hand for a clean finish.
Once I got to the dress to this point I then had a dilemma. I would usually either just sew the button band closed and sew on a few buttons for effect, or use snaps since I hate buttons and I find button holes always look scrappy to me. But that would make my dress ineligible for the Pattern Review contest. I thought about just skipping the contest, but in the end I decided to use it as a learning experience and teach myself how to do bound button holes.
I did a number of trials first before cutting into my final dress, the finished button holes may not be perfect, but I'm more than happy with them.
|Button hole from outside|
|Button hole from inside|
I had no idea what buttons I wanted to use and when I was going through my very meager button stash I found a couple of glittery bugs and butterflies. I laid them against my dress as a joke, but really liked the way they looked, and every button I tried after that made the dress seem quite stodgy so in the end I went with the pink and purple bugs and butterflies. They are definitely a personal touch!
so I love the way this dress turned out and know that it will get quite a bit of wear during the summer.