Shirtdress the Second

After the success of my last version of my Nautical Shirtdress, I knew that I would be making another version of M6696 before long. I bought this gorgeous Robert Kaufman Chambray from the Village Haberdashery in October planning to make a shirt, but when it arrived, I knew it would have to be a special dress. Finally I decided to start it 2 weeks ago, and have it finished ready in time for birthday drinks last Saturday!

Outside the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford
Outside the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. Check out the stripes across the front!

This dress seemed to take forever to finish! Around 15 – 16 hours in total, in several stints across a week!

I wanted to match the pattern across the front, but due to limited fabric, I accepted that I probably wouldn’t be able to do this across all the seams. However, when it came to cutting out, I found I needed to shorten the skirt an extra inch from last time (4″ in total) to fit the pattern onto the fabric. This meant that I could match the skirt side seams! YAY! Check this out:

Stripe matching!
Stripe matching! This is the side seam with the pockets at the top.Also – no sight of the hem – good old Blind Hem foot!

I stupidly also didn’t think about matching the skirt / button band – when I was sewing it I realised that it was only about half an inch out. I could have remedied this by chopping some out of the button band but it doesn’t bother me tooo much!

I really love the sleeved version (B), but I decided that this one had to be sleeveless (A). The fit is pretty spot on, so I only made a few alterations to the armhole, as usually sleeveless bodice blocks are drafted slightly differently to those with sleeves (naughty McCalls!) I used Jen from Grainline’s tutorial to help me with this, but it’s actually a really simple alteration:

-I removed 3/4″ from the top of the shoulder seams (front and back), blending down into the bottom of the armhole (and yoke)
-I didn’t initially remove a horizontal wedge from between the yoke/ back, but when I tried on the bodice, it was gaping a bit, so I removed 5/8″ in a little dart between the yoke and back – it’s not a perfect solution, but it worked pretty well.

-I finished the armholes with bias binding, inserting it flat, then sewing the side seams. This bias binding came from my Grandma’s stash, I’ve used it in a couple of projects, but this was the last of it. I really like having it in this dress 🙂

Armhole binding, and mini dart between the yoke and back.
Armhole binding, and mini dart between the yoke and back.

Sewing the rest of the dress was fairly straightforward, just time consuming. Every seam I decided to match took about 4 or 5 times longer than it would usually:
-I pinned everything really carefully into place, matching stripes
-Basted it on the machine (4mm stitch)
-Checked it matched, re-did any bits that were out of line
-Sewed it up again with normal stitch length.

I top-stitched rather than slip-stitching everything. This was hugely helped by the snazzy new foot my Grandma got me for my birthday – it’s a quilters 1/4″ foot – but essentially perfect for topstitching! 🙂

1/4 " topstitching :)
1/4 ” topstitching and snap fasteners

I used snap fasteners rather than buttons – I really like the effect but was definitely a bit nervous about putting them in! My friend Leire lent me her pliers for the purpose. (Thanks Leire!!) They’re certainly easier than I expected, but I would recommend making sure you’re paying full attention before attempting to put them in! Ask me how I know that…

I finished the hem using my blind hem foot – this is so quick, and much better than my hand sewing! I had to draw a line of gathering to accommodate the curve of the hem – this is also a useful guide for pressing up the hem evenly! It helps to snip through this after you’ve sewn the hem to avoid puckering. I left the hem pretty deep – it’s around 3″ – I might let it down a little at some point if I no longer want to wear it short!

The only other alteration was that I made the pocket deeper – the pockets in my first version are just a little too shallow to be really useful. I did this by just extending the pocket in width and depth. Finished pockets:

Bigger pockets! I had to sub in some plain chambray as I didn’t have enough of the jacquard left. Excuse the creases.

Pattern: free (costed in my previous version)2m Jacquard Chambray: £36
Thread: £3
Snaps: £8
TOTAL: £47

All in all, I’m delighted with this dress – though I think next time I make this pattern, I will give myself a longer time to do it! Squeezing that much sewing into a week was lovely, but I did put quite a lot of pressure on myself to finish it on time for my birthday drinks!IMG_0335What’s on your sewing table at the moment?


5 thoughts on “Shirtdress the Second

  1. You are welcome!

    I really love this dress on you! The fit is really spot on. And it is really well made and finished… your 15 hours of work really paid off. Congrats!

  2. This is lovely! I tried to put in snap fasteners the other day with the plastic tool included in the pack and a hammer – big old fail. I will try pliers next time, so thanks for the tip.

    I’m currently trying to decide on my next project, but I think it will either be a sleeveless shirt or a nice summer dress.

  3. Thanks! Yes I was a little worried about the little tool after hearing other peoples’ stories about them… I was just about to buy a pair when Leire lent me hers! Definitely worth the investment though I think.

    Either of those sound lovely for a heatwave! I’ve been finishing up a few bits for going on holiday – such fun sewing!

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