Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

The Shirt (Dress)


DSCN7133This one will not be going to Donegal with me!


Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 18.39.19

Undoubtedly the Internet is a fabulous creation but there is such a thing as ‘too much information’ – I made the fatal mistake of looking up the five day weather forecast for the west of Ireland….you guessed it, rain, some more rain, a few showers and cloudy.

A loose cotton shirt dress must be worn in temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius and above (preferably above).

There has been a plethora of shirt dresses recently on the sewing Internet as we all sew for summer: here’s a few to get you going –








Closet Case – KalleKalle_shirt_dress_Technical_flat-02_ca619977-8709-4422-8faa-a3c801b98fe9_large

Vogue 1541


Now, I do have to say this out loud, while these dresses are extremely comfortable and easy to wear, I really don’t think they are the most flattering of garments. Personally, I need a defined waistline to help reduce the hip girth and you don’t get that with this style. I suppose you could always add a belt but that kinda defeats the purpose – and with my sway back and gathers over the rear, that’s definitely not a good look. So, I give you the straight up and down version.

downloadThe Makers Artelier produced a lovely pattern Flip Collar Shirt Dress  early in the season and I was smitten with the waist seam detail. However, these patterns are quite costly (£22) and if you’re not sure about a style, that’s a lot of readies to splash out on something that you may not like.

I delved into my hectically organised sewing patterns and found Vogue Very (very) Easy 8708 – OOP. Looked close enough and easy to hack.


I split the paper pattern at the Lengthen or Shorten Here line and inserted something like 25″. I kept the shirt tail curved hem from view A and cut out the lower front on the crossgrain while everything else was cut on the lengthwise; this created the subtle change in the fabric at the front.

G3c17.jpgFabric is from Fabworks and is a delightful shirt-weight cotton. Ivory/not white with lines and dots. Perfect to cut, sew, press and wear. Couldn’t recommend this enough.






Oh yeah, I also added in-seam side pockets – that’s where my hand are!


Front detail with the change in fabric direction which is noticeable but not glaring.


This is great, simple shirt pattern with cut on sleeves, back yoke, fold-over collar and optional tabs on the sleeve cuffs.


I did some nice work on this shirt dress: fully felled seams throughout, silk organza used as interfacing on the collar but the fronts are completely interface-free for a softer lie.


The back is not flattering. There is an inverted centre pleat, which is neat in shirt but in dress length just loses it’s impact and moves into cocoon shape. Some of you may like this but I believe it’s not for me.


While waiting for summer sunshine 2017, I made a new seat for my trusty old deckchair. Fabric is from Ikea and doesn’t it make you happy just looking at it?


There’s enough Ikea fabric left over for a skirt too…….


The second reason that this will not be packed for Donegal is because it’s not a favourite from the thigh down. So, instead of making another shirt dress, I think I’ll shorten this one to be A Shirt.

40 thoughts on “The Shirt (Dress)

  1. It looks fab. I recently made Tilly and the Buttons shirt dress and it has Princess seams and a nipped in waist. It’s now my favorite garment.

  2. I don’t “get” the appeal of shirtdresses either. And I think all dresses, regardless of type, require 30 degree C temps. Nice chair!

    • ‘Sack’ by another name Felicia – unfortunately in this country we have to take whatever temperatures Mother Nature gives us and we take full advantage of it…..

      • In what country do people NOT have to take what mother nature gives? 🙂 Vancouver weather is cool and rainy too. Looks like we might have a bit of summer now for a while.

  3. I think I’m with you here- it looks good from the fornt, not so much from the side. You have too good a figure to hide inside a cocoon!

  4. Made beautifully, but I think you are right. Would you be able to top stitch the back pleat in place, or would that look weird?

    • I’d thought about that Marysia – stitching the back pleat down but then I wouldn’t be able to walk or sit and henceforth I abandoned that idea. There are times when you just have to accept that it’s a failure but totally recoverable.

  5. I think it looks great – much nicer than the £22(!) pattern. Love the sleeve tabs too. But if you would wear it more as a shirt, then it’s definitely the way to go. Have you seen Megan Neilsen’s new shirtdress pattern, I think it’s called Mathilda. It’s gorgeous, and I was reading on her blog that it can quite fitted or slightly loose.

    Re the weather in Donegal, in my experience, regardless of the temperature, it’s always blowing a huley, so best bring a jumper. Enjoy!

    • Lynne, I have boots, shoes and flip-flops packed! When you go on holiday in Ireland you have to pack for all four seasons.
      I’ll check out the Mathilda and get back to youn soon.
      Thank you.

  6. Lovely to have two posts in such a short space of time! I completely understand when you need to take a break from blogging though. It is not something that I could do (too much pressure) and I really appreciate the work that all you bloggers put into your photos and words. You always look good Ruth, in fitted items, but I also think that you can easily wear a cocoon shape as well. In my opinion the sleeves on this are too long and wide. If they were shortened like the Stylearc or Closet Case ones, I think the dress would be more “balanced”.

    • Thanks Sheree. I really appreciate your support and encouragement.
      I just think that this dress style is not for me. I have been experiencing some technical dicculties with camera and downloading pics but hopefully that’s all sorted thanks to nerdy son.

  7. Looks fabulous front on, but agree it isn’t so great from the side. How would it look worn open as a topper, or stitching the back pleat together like the front of Colette’s Sorbetto top?

    • I kinda like it worn open and over a pair of trousers Sue – believe me, I’ve tried every option 🙂
      But I think a slightly shorter “dress” would look better.
      Thank you so much for your insight.

  8. I love shirtdresses and most of my summer wardrobe: shirtdresses, all with ties at the waist. Don’t
    give up on them entirely. Maybe one with darts that bring it in at the waist a bit. I use v-8903 a lot
    but need to add my own side pockets. I borrow sleeves from other patterns and change hem style
    as well. peggy

    • Thanks Peggy. It’s always so good to hear another’s point of view.
      I’ll check out V8903 and I really like the idea of customising a pattern to suit personal needs and styles.

  9. I’m sewing the third Alder Dress. Super cute and comfy

  10. Well, I really like it and it’s beautiful fabric. But, you know your wardrobe and what you will and won’t wear. Shirt dresses can look a bit unflattering unless they are nipped in or belted. Think it’s part of the style. Perhaps if you had more 25 plus weather you’d wear a dress more than a shirt?
    That IKEA fabrics is going to look awesome as a skirt! You know I am going to say that!

  11. Funny thing, I was lying in bed as I’d woken early the other morning and was pondering a trip to IKEA for some fabric just like your deck chair! I’d tried on a skirt in a 2nd hand shoppe, it was Boden from the UK and they wanted $35 for it – 2nd hand!
    Regarding shirtdresses… I have recently discovered that I much prefer my silhouette in a ‘minimising’ bra because when I turn sideways the shape looks less projected and so now I usually wear a ‘non projecting’ bra under looser clothes, it had never occurred to me to do that in the past ;Q Just slow perhaps. Very pretty dress, I’d like to see it in loud and riotous technicolor! Best of luck with your travels Ruth, pack a ‘storm stick”!

    • I have such small breasts that I’m always wearing projecting/lifting/enlarging bras. Thanks Sewn, maybe I should reconsider my overall silhouette.
      On another note – Boden makes lovely stuff and I have known to purchase an item or two. It is a great place to search for inspiration.

  12. Donegal is beautiful no matter what the weather. You will love it.

    • Standing on tall cliff edges, walking along sandy beaches, trekking up mountains- it really doesn’t matter what you look like Sarah – you’re absolutely right, it’s about enjoying and immersing in the moment and the experience.
      Thank you.

  13. I think your new dress would look great with along-sleeved T underneath and some “jeggings”. Might stand up to the Donegal summer.
    Glad you’re back, however briefly. I always enjoy your posts.

    • Hi Barbara. Thank you so much, I love my long-term followers.
      I totally agree that leggings/jeggings underneath will make this much more wearable.

  14. I’m sorry you’re going to shorten the dress to a shirt because it’s stunning. However, I understand why if you don’t like it, you won’t wear it. Though seriously love the dress!

    • Let’s chalk up wearing vs loving and you are right on the button Carolyn – I do really like this dress but I know that I will not wear it much and not just because of the temperature and weather.
      I’ll give it another few weeks and see what happens – otherwise, it will be shortened to long shirt length and be be worn lots.
      Thank you.

  15. I like it and think it would look nice with trousers on a cooler day, but if you aren’t comfortable shortening sounds like a sensible option. I tried the Alex shirt dress from Sew Over It and it’s now sitting in the alterations pile for exactly this operation!

  16. Ruth, I recently (two weeks ago) made a shirtwaist tunic also. I used McCalls 6885. I combined two sizes and did no other changes to the pattern. It is a slimmer version of the dress from Vogue you featured, but the McCalls has a collar band. I have decided I look better in set-in sleeves, not drop shoulders. You might try this one too. The slim fit skimmed my hips and made them seem more proportional. I also wore leggings, but that is beside the point. Air Conditioning is turned way down in the summer here and can be unbearable at times. Our weather calls for sleeveless here outside in Oklahoma but I may make it again in the sleeved version for fall. Cheers and have a lovely holiday.

  17. This looks to be sewn beautifully. I like it, largely because I enjoy seeing experimentation (even though I do it infrequently myself). Sometimes it’s nice to wait a while to see if the style grows on you. I might also try an obi-style belt with this, to see if that works. I’ve seen that silhouette a bit this spring/summer. Like Lesley, I think this would also work in a riotous colour/pattern.

  18. I would try shortening to a tunic length – too pretty and well sewn not to be worn and loved. Not having seen the back on, I wonder if part of it is that the top has all that interesting detail and then the hem sort of trails off into nightgown territory? Very cool fabric! Enjoy your holiday!


  19. Well cici, now I am inspired to make a nightgown with pockets!! and possibly lounge bottoms to match, wish.
    Ruth, I found your blogs this spring when searching for pictures of makes of Merchant and Mills Heron Top. One new sewing machine and yards and yards of fabric and tissue and patterns and a rainbow of threads, I am having such a good time. Many thanks for wardrobes of inspiration.

  20. I much preferred you in your seventies style dresses, no matter what is fashionable now. Shirt dresses look a bit like sacks on many people as you said. I like your new hairstyle and I wish you a happy holiday in all weather.

  21. I think someone up there in the comments mentioned leggings. That would be a nice touch. Perhaps shorten it a bit and add leggings? Otherwise, I like the length and the curve of the hem for a dress length. The curve goes up high enough to show your knees! Very stylish!

  22. I think you will get more use out of it as a tunic and if you make it again, you can make the top portion a brighter color or larger motif to fool the eye into thinking that the bust is larger than the hips. I was thinking that the pattern could be used in the IKEA fabric to be really fun…maybe not in thick fabric for chairs but lighter and flowy. I don’t live near an IKEA so don’t know what they carry. If you don’t end up cutting it shorter, please send it to me where we have 90+ degrees all summer, Ruth. You look so stunning in all your other clothes…

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