The Shirt Dress of My First Sew-Along

As you may be aware (thanks to the big orange button in the side bar and my constant blather about it), I have been following along with A Fashionable Stitch’s 2-in-1 Sew Along. I chose the shirt dress route because 1) I really wanted to make a shirt dress and 2) I’m not really a fan of wrap dresses since on me they usually require wearing a cami underneath and I am So Over that.

This was the first sew along I’ve ever been a part of. Having someone feed you tutorials, tips, and tricks along the way is pretty great. But mostly I really liked the idea that there were people all over the place who were dealing with some of the same issues I was. And I guess that’s what’s so great about having an online sewing community. I don’t really have any local friends who sew (at least not to the crazy extent that I do), so while my friends will sit and patiently listen while I ramble about French seams and lapped zippers, I don’t want to bore them with all my sewing details. (However, I have to tell you that they will also accompany me fabric shopping and thrifting for patterns–which are ridiculously hard to find round these parts!)

So let’s chat.

For those of you who didn’t do the sew along, we used Simplicity 1880. I made one major error in the construction process. I did make a muslin (two actually) of the bodice, but I did not include any of the skirt. Which I most definitely should have done since the top of the skirt isn’t gathered and doesn’t allow for tummies. Because some of us have these tummies [insert wry face here]. . . Anyways, I’m thinking that I should have at least done the top half of the skirt–which would have made fitting the bodice a lot more accurate.

The bodice looks severely crumpled on a hanger. I’ll get some real pictures up soon!

I had to make a couple of adjustments to the bodice. I took an inch out of the middle since my waist is convinced it should be my neck. I think, though, that I made it a bit too short. I added–okay, what are the darts called that come from the armscye? Armscye darts?–I added those to take care of a major gappage issue. I was worried that they would interfere with the gathers from the yoke, but once it’s on, you can’t really tell. In the back at the bottom between the two rows of pleats, I sewed the skirt with a little more seam allowance on the bodice. Did that make sense? Basically, it was the same thing as cutting the bodice a little shorter in the center back–an adjustment that might become a regular for me since it seems that I am swaybacked.

Of course, I forgot to account for the raised part of the skirt when I was hemming, so the skirt is a bit shorter in the back than it is in the front. I plan on re-hemming the skirt since I’d like to hand stitch a blind hem. I was in a hurry when I hemmed, so I did a simple one by machine. I do not like the look for this dress.

Also, I had to let the skirt out 1/4″ on the front and back seams to give myself a bit more room. And once I inserted the zipper and could finally get an accurate fit, I found that the waist was a smidge tight. It’s not terribly noticeable. It is also not comfortable.

I decided (semi-foolishly) that I wanted to insert a lapped zipper instead of an invisible one, but now I’m kind of regretting the decision. The zipper inserted fairly easily, but the poofy nature of the bodice doesn’t allow the zipper lap to lay quite flat. I’m pretty sure I’m going to take it out and put in the invisible zip instead. I might be able to finagle a bit more breathing room in the process.

Oh hey–the waist seam doesn’t line up. How special.

When I take the hem out, I’m going to also finish my seams (Shameful, I know.) because I ran out of time Saturday night (I really wanted to wear it Sunday).

One more thing (last whiny bit, I promise!), the seersucker was a tad sheer, so I decided I should give underlining a try. I used a poly/cotton batiste which is mostly fine–but in these icky, sticky summers we have here in the ATL, you really want to avoid as many layers as possible. So, the dress will work better for spring and early fall before the cold arrives. Which is not a problem. Our falls are mostly summer anyways.

The batiste underlining made the bodice a bit thick, so I’m not a huge fan of how the gathers turned out. In retrospect, I should have gathered just the seersucker and taken the extra out of the batiste so I could sew it flat underneath, make sense? I wonder if that would work . . .

What I do love is the collar, thanks to Sunni! Also, I like the cap sleeves and am glad I went with them. I used covered buttons and added an extra for zero-gap issues. I used Sunni’s tutorial on how to place that first crucial button and they turned out really well. I love the shape of the skirt! I had no idea that I needed to let skirts hang for a few days before hemming–I will definitely remember that for the future.

The collar looks significantly less crooked when I’m actually wearing it.

I had bought a belt kit from A Fashionable Stitch (super excited about it!) with the intention of covering a belt to match my dress, but I can’t decide how to cover it. I definitely want something I can wear with a lot of different things. So, to make my dress feel a bit more finished, I added my blue bow belt from Tilly’s tutorial (I also wore it with my seersucker sundress). I really love that belt–the blue goes with everything!

In the end, I definitely learned a lot from the process. And while I won’t jump on every sew along bandwagon (that would be craziness!), I would definitely love to do another when one strikes my fancy.


8 thoughts on “The Shirt Dress of My First Sew-Along

    • Thanks! I’m a sucker for covered buttons! For some reason, the gingham doesn’t always line up, but at least it matches at the top when it’s more obvious.

  1. Looks great. Really nice job on the collar. Those buttons are so cool!! Can’t wait to see all the creations. It’s been a fun sewalong. Sunni’s button placement tutorial helped me a ton as well!

  2. You are so funny, but you do yourself a disservice: your dress looks great! I love the green gingham, the covered buttons and the addition of the fifth button. I’m copying you next time out!

    • Thanks! You’re so sweet šŸ™‚ Well, you know, we are all our own worst critics and all that. I really love buttons, so the more the merrier!

I'm done. Now, YOU can talk :)

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