A classic shirt dress – and why I always risk paying for excess baggage

I love shopping for fabric. For me (and if you are a sewer, you know what I mean), it’s like walking into a candy shop. (Granted, many times I get overwhelmed and leave from the most fantastic fabric shop with like a marking pen or something else ridiculously small and readily available everywhere.) I especially like going to fabric shops on vacation. There so much more to explore. (Did you see my post about my indredible luck in Paris a few years ago?) My hometown has fabric shops, yes, but bigger cities have bigger shops. Also, most of the time, they tend to be cheaper as well. I can spend hours just wandering around a fabric shop, going back and forth, touching, pulling, lifting bolts, touching again, thinking, thinking, going away, coming back again. If someone had drawn a map of my movements in a fabric shop, it would probably look like a panicked bee trying to find its a way out, just going in endless circles, back and forth in an irrational and uncontrolled manor. Dear Husband is used to it by now and I must credit him for never having a meltdown when I am in that state. (Why on earth don’t fabric shops have some chairs and an espresso machine? It would significantly reduce my stress of feeling that someone is, albeit rather patiently, waiting for me to finaaaaaallly make a decision about something. Fabric shops, if you are reading this, get a move on!)

Shirt dress, Simplicity 8014

Buying fabric abroad does not make for the most logical decisions either. Like the fabric for this shirt dress. I bought it in Nippori Fabric town in Tokyo. Yes, Tokyo, like in “this is quite ordinary denim fabric, why do you buy it in Japan and risk paying for overweight baggage on the plane”– Tokyo. What can I say? I buy what I like when I see it. No regrets.

It took me about two years to make something out of it. I finally decided on a classic shirt dress with a nipped-in waist and wider skirt. Simplicty 8014 seemed like the perfect choice. I didn’t realise until I cut out the pattern pieces that the waist darts front and back weren’t actually darts, but tucks. I hate tucks. In my opinion they add unnecessary bulk and give weird silhouettes. I like smooth, clean lines on me. Having said that, tucks can look great on the right pattern or model, but it’s just not my thing. It was however easy to convert the front tucks to darts and I simply eliminated the back tucks and just cut the whole lower back piece smaller at the waist. It actually looks very smooth with no creases. Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures of the back, but it worked!

Shirt dress, Simplicity 8014

About the pattern.

Simplicity 8014

Pattern Description: “Vintage shirt dress pattern for miss and miss petite features full length dress with collar and long sleeves, knee length dress with slim or flared skirt, and mini dress with collar and shirt tail hem.”

I went for version B but with the collar.

Pattern Sizing: 6-8-10-12-14 (I have altered the pattern so much, it’s probably smaller somewhere around a 8 now.)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it does. I did take out the front tucks and replaced them with darts. As for the back tucks, I omitted them entirely and instead took in the waist seam. Worked perfectly!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, I believe so. I took in the shoulder seams after I had cut the collar pieces and was afraid the latter would be too big then, but I made it work. I think the denim fabric made it quite easy to work with.

A tip: when you are about to add the snaps (or buttons), don’t just use the snap placement pattern piece without trying on the dress and really checking where you want to place the snap by your bust area. Too high and it will feel a little too modest, too low and you will feel exposed. Take your time and pin in different places. From there on, you can then decide where to place the rest. Or do like me and start with placing one pin where I wanted the snap to go at the bust area, one on the exact waist (to minimise pulling lines) and then space the rest of the snaps in equal distancies along the rest of the dress (the top one by the collar doesn’t have to have the same distance as the rest, in my opinion).

I also hand-sewed a smaller snap at the waist on the inside of the button placket to reduce unsightly pulling at the waist.

Fabric Used: A black medium-weight denim without stretch. Bought in Tokyo, go figure…

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Yes, see above. Took it in more overall, especially at the waist (my usual change).

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I think I will sew it again. It’s a classic pattern and so versatile. Just look at this gorgeous version in white by Shun D. Perfect for summer!

Conclusion: I am very pleased with the dress. It’s a great pattern, especially if you are pear-shaped like me and like to emphasize your waist. I also love how you can decide if you want it open at the neck or convert it into a pussy bow dress (by simply tying the belt under the collar.)

What do you think? Have you tried it? Any favourite shirt dress inspiration?

/Catharina

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2 comments

  1. So pretty! I needed some motivation to get back behind the sewing machine. And yes for buying fabric when on holiday. I live practical mementos.

    1. Hi Astrid! Thank you for your lovely comment! Sewing is sometimes frustrating, time-consuming and expensive.. but it can be so satisfying. Personally I need a creative outlet to my day job and this is a great way to do it. The best thing is the fabric and pattern shopping though. That’s the best stage in th eprocess when I candDream about the result. Have a lovely weekend!

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