Can you believe there is a shirtdress pattern out there that was unknown and un-possessed by me? I don't know how I missed Simplicity 1880, but I spotted it while reading another blog (that's the problem with the internet - you see something someone has made and you suddenly have to make it too) and knew I had to have it:
I made view "A" but it was difficult to discern which version was "A" and which was "B" - the pattern envelope didn't identify one from the other. I had to figure it out by studying the illustrations in the instructions. I made a size 12 with no alterations.
There's a lot going on in this shirtdress. There are gathers, pleats, and tucks (oh, my!), attached to the yoke, waist, and sleeves, respectively. There are buttons and a zipper on the left side:
I had hoped to use fabric from the stash, but no luck. All my fabric seemed to be three yards or less, and this dress took all of four. This pattern requires a very light cotton or a rayon, something drapey. I ended up buying a very lightweight, inexpensive lawn from Joanns (their "Lissette" collection), and it was the right weight for this dress, given the gathers, pleats and tucks. Unfortunately, it wrinkles pretty easily, but that is the price you pay for lightweight. And cheap.
There's just something about polka dots and shirtdresses that go together! The dots on this dress are white, with a mint green center. It occurred to me as I was finishing that if I had used red buttons, I would have a patriotic dress, but I wanted minty green buttons to match the dots.
Of course, as per usual, I did way more edgestitching on this dress than the instructions called for. Also, as usual, the pattern only had you cut one back yoke and two front yokes; I doubled the number so the inside was as nice as the front:
I was seriously tempted to leave the sleeves off, but I'm glad I didn't. The blousiness of the bodice wouldn't have looked right without the sleeves, so I'm glad I put the sleeves in even though they were a huge PITA. First up, the tucks in the sleeves:
Which required a hemming technique I had never heard of before: using a ribbon to hem the sleeves:(This photo is of the second sleeve I did - my first one had all kinds of wonky stitching due to the satiny finish of the ribbon.) I used a yellow ribbon because I like yellow, but I look like death in it, so I incorporate yellow whenever it doesn't show next to my face. In the end, it wasn't a bad finishing technique but I don't think I'll use it on a regular basis.
The pattern called for an invisible zipper, but I had a bad feeling about trying to wrangle an invisible zipper in this very lightweight cotton that had a tendency to run like rayon. So I put in a slot (centered) zipper instead. Easy-peasy:
This shirtdress pattern has a lot to recommend it - I like the fact that the skirt is closed and not buttoned down the front - much less chance of a wardrobe malfunction, not to mention a lot less buttonholes and buttons to sew. Also, the waist on this dress is actually about 5/8 of inch below where the bodice and the skirt meet - making a more flattering fit, I think. The smooth skirt, without gathers or pleats, also makes this a flattering dress.
My take: a winner, in terms of flattering the figure, less buttonholes and buttons to make, and fairly easy. The only drawback: those sleeves. They took a long time to make and attach. If I make this again, I'll probably steal some easier sleeves from another pattern.