Monday, 7 October 2013

Gingham shirt-dress

Having enjoyed wearing my cowboy shirt-dress so much recently, I decided it was high time I developed a custom-fitted woven bodice block so I can draft more of what I make for myself, in the same way as I do for knit tops.

Pattern description

Shirt dress with stand collar, shirt style placket, pleated skirt and side seam pockets.

Fabric used

Stretch cotton gingham from

Drafting details

I used my trusty Aldrich to draft the basic pattern for the bodice, based on my high bust measurement. This was then traced off and I made a FBA of 3.5cm (i.e. 7cm total), which was the difference between my high bust and full bust. As it turned out, this was too much, despite being true to measurements! It's ended up with the excess forming sort of pleats over my bust point (these are more exaggerated in the pictures on Wilma, as she is less well endowed than me. Even with a bra on). Further experimentation (unfortunately after I'd finished this dress), showed that only 2cm (4cm total) was much better. Weird.

The pattern was drafted by:

  • Distributing the front suppression into one waist dart and two bust darts.
  • Separating the front and back bodice into yokes and lower sections.
  • Drafting a two piece stand collar, and a shirt-style placket front.
  • Drafting a basic skirt, transforming it into an A-line skirt, and then slashing and spreading to give the pleats.

Construction details

Fairly standard construction for this, not much to say! I interfaced the collar with fusible tricot to add stability but keep the lightness, and stabilised the front pocket edges with selvedge. I chose to hand stitch the inside collar rather than topstitch or stitch-in-the-ditch. I like hand stitching.

However, I tried out the "burrito" method of sewing the yoke so that it was totally machine sewn and clean-finished. I thought it might be a bit fiddly, but it's totally super easy and looks great. The topstitching was done with my usual method of the stretch straight stitch on the machine. I think I need to fiddle with tensions slightly as this stitch has drawn up slightly on the more lightweight fabric. Hmm.

Would you sew it again?

Not an exact replica, but I do plan to sew some more shirt-dresses (slightly more autumn appropriate ones though). I'm pleased with the way the top half turned out (with the exception of the bust fit), so this was good practice.


A moderate success. The poor fit over the bust is sort of annoying, but I'm not sure if this is majorly noticeable to non-sewists (maybe I can get away with saying the pleats it forms are a design feature...?). The skirt pleats also sit a bit awkwardly for some reason, and the pockets are rather small.

On the positive side though, I'm really pleased with the yokes, collar and shirt styling. Sadly, this dress hasn't actually been worn yet (hence only the photos on Wilma), as I finished it up right at the end of summer. I wear dresses all throughout the year, but there's something about the gingham-ness of this that makes it very definitely scream SUMMER. I think I just need to find the right way of styling it with tights/cardie so that it is wearable before next year. Or maybe just go on holiday somewhere warm... Yeah, I like that idea.


  1. What a shame the weather isn't cooperating so that you can wear it. Great colours

  2. I would wear this through the fall with a blazer and boots, and belt. It is super cute!