The Shirt Dress of Terrible Ideas

I wrote about this a while back on my other blog, so for some of you this may be a repeat. Also, final garment pictures are forthcoming. Coming in just a few forths. . .

It took a couple of weeks after getting my hands on a new sewing machine to start building up the inevitable fabric stash. I was pretty much fabric illiterate (I knew “cotton.”), so I just bought at whim (sale whim, you know) and hoped for the best. I’m still learning. For instance, “sport twill”? Don’t buy it unless you’re bound for winter 1983. They love it there. Here? Not so much. But, more on that saga later.

Also, Jo-Ann’s had a $1.00 sale on Simplicity patterns.

$1.00!!! I was amazed. . . and a little bit rabid. Altogether, I spent $25 and saved over $400.

For my first dress, I decided to make Simplicity 2246, view C. In my mind, I was already making modifications. I would add a lining. I would have pockets. I would have three-quarter length sleeves with French cuffs. I make a fuller skirt to have a very 50s silhouette.

I was so young then. So naive.

I would like to mention here that I did not make a muslin the first time around. I was pretty confident in my (non-existent) skills (mad skillz). Of course, I was wrong. I have a fear of making things too small, so I err in the largish direction.

“Works” being a relative term. . .

First, who puts a lining in a shirt dress with buttons all down the front?? How are you supposed to work around that? To be fair–to myself–I had originally decided to remove the plackets from the skirt. But, I had a little problem figuring out how I would get the thing on and off without resorting to a side zipper. (I was still afraid of zippers at this point.) I still used a lining. I just sewed it to the plackets. It’s a little odd–but it works, I guess.

Now–the pockets. Those worked splendidly. . . the third time I did them. Apparently it helps if you sew them to the right side of the fabric before turning them in. I mean–unless you want the seam to show like in my version 2.

The quarter length sleeves were not a problem once I trimmed them from the size 18 I originally cut down to about a 12. (Side note to those that need it: Pattern sizes and ready-to-wear sizes are vastly different. So don’t get all judgy-pants on me.)

Oh, hey–see the yellow line there? Yeah–as it turns out, if you iron over your marks, they don’t like to come out in the wash. I thought I’d be “smart” and mark how much the sleeve needed to be turned up in order to be hemmed because I have a serious problem with ironing for hems. Some sort of mental block.

French cuffs? Pshaw!

In the end, the primary problem with this dress is a result of my stupid idea to have a fuller skirt. I cut the largest size skirt (22, I think?) not for a second thinking about what all those extra gathers would add to my not tiny, super high waist.

They add unflattery.

Also, the top stitching on the plackets is what I’d like to call “not good.” The top stitching is nothing, of course, compared to the wonky mismatched hem action. And please do not judge me by the collar. I was quite upset during the whole collar episode and I just. . . I just don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just say that I had no idea what they meant by “clip neck to stay stitching.”

Yep–there it is. Mocking me and my inability to placket properly.

The stripes on the plackets originally matched beautifully. But. . . I don’t know. . . words were said, feelings were hurt. . .
Also, on my first public wearing, I learned that the gaps between the buttons were. . . very gappy. So I had to add snaps to keep all my decency intact.

When I do this pattern again, I will make these changes:

1. Make the right size skirt for Pete’s sake.

2. Short sleeves.

3. I might just forgo the lining. Might. Maybe.

4. Shorter skirt. Most definitely.

This second version that I have in my head is going to be a dedicated summer dress, so that really negates the need for lining, I think.

The only reason I’m even thinking about redoing this pattern is that I saw someone on the Sew Weekly make one and hers was absolutely lovely! (Can’t for the life of me find the picture though. . . Did I dream it?) It gave me hope for the future. I was so disappointed with this dress that it really is amazing that I kept on going.

You know–once the sewing bug bites. . .

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2 thoughts on “The Shirt Dress of Terrible Ideas

  1. We’ve all been there. I used to feel pretty awful about all the “mistakes” I made (time and resources wasted) until I read an article a few years back about the mistakes and unworkable ideas professional designers make in the course of their careers. It’s part of the creative experience… trial, error, success.

    • So true! And, honestly, I think I learned more from that one unfortunate dress than any other project I’ve worked on. Every time I wear that dress (yes, I actually wear it!) I think about all the ways that I could take it apart and do it right, but I don’t think I ever will. I think I’ll keep it crazy as a reminder.
      That article you mentioned sounds fascinating!

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