Y’all…. we’ve actually been having some not-so-hot aka almost-fall-like weather down here! Its been so beautiful I’ve wanted to be outside every day. Unfortunately I’ve also been hustling my little booty off so I haven’t had much outdoors time. Feeling thankful for my sweet pup that gives me a reason to at least take a little break in the sun every day. Speaking of my pup… he makes a little cameo appearance in this post. Keep reading for his sweet face and (a lot!) more pictures of this AMAZING dress.
I know I say it every time I finish a dress… but this time I’m REALLY serious. This might be my new favorite. I’ve wanted to make a maxi shirtdress in silk for a super long time. I put it off at first because I could never find the right pattern. Then when I decided I’d make the pattern myself I put it off because it seemed so daunting. But when I inherited this amazing silk crepe de chine from an internship I knew this was the perfect fabric for my dream dress vision, and I had to buckle down and finally make it.
But Amy, Why did you decide to draft the pattern yourself? Aren’t there so many great shirtdress patterns out there? … Yes reader, you would be correct. And I was almost sucked in by Named Reeta Midi Shirt Dress and the McCalls 6696 shirt dress. However, I had a very clear idea of how I wanted this dress to look, and those patterns would have required so much hacking to get it right. I decided it would be easier to just draft it myself. (Boy was I nervous about that collar though!)
This dress was inspired by a dress I did some alterations on for a client. It was several years ago, but I remember it was in a beautiful silk fabric and it was by Creatures of Comfort. I loved the loose fitted bodice that cinched in at the waist and the easy feel of the buttons that went all the way down. Somehow it reminded me of the vintage farm dresses made of cotton that one would just throw on and off as needed. (I think I may make one in cotton too – it would be lovely in a voile or gauze!) I feel like maxi dresses are the ultimate secret pajamas. The collar and pleats give a little nod to workwear. They are so easy to throw on and instantly make you look done up.
About those construction details… as I said I wanted the bodice to have a blouse-y fit. I kept the bust dart for some nice shaping under the arm. Then I cut the rest of the front bodice straight down in almost a boxy shape. I did the same for the back but added a box pleat that gets sewn down into the waistband. The waistband is cut to perfectly fit my waist, so once everything is gathered into fit the waistband I get a nice cinched waist look with an easy fit bodice. I wanted more of a notched collar than a traditional shirt collar. I was really nervous about drafting this but it turned out quite nice. I love the way it exposes the décolletage. The front skirt has one pleat with gathers in the back. You know I have to add pockets to everything. I thought some nice large patch pockets would be a great contrast for the silky nature of this dress. Finally, the skirt side seams are open in slits to just below the knee.
This amazing fabric is from my coveted collection of fabrics donated to me by previous internships in the past. The print is almost too vibrant to photograph! I love the bright poppy red color accented with shades of purple. It is a silk crepe de chine and it just glides effortlessly as I walk. I did have to interface the collar, collar stand, waistband and button plackets. I didn’t want to use fusable interfacing since this fabric is so light and fusable tends to have that rippling effect on lighter fabrics after washed and dried. Thats the last thing I wanted to happen to this dress so I instead cut one layer of the collar, collar stand, collar facing, waistband, and a strip for the button placket out of some lightweight cotton scraps I had laying around. I sewed a layer to the wrong side of each of those pattern pieces with a 1/4″ seam allowance. For the button placket I just folded it in then topstitched the placket closed. This gave the dress a nice sturdy-ness where it needed it while letting it flow where it did not. I also interlined the pockets with cotton as well. Since they are so oversized, I didn’t want them to sag. The cotton interlining helps them stand nice and crisply in place.
I knew this dress was going to be something special so I wanted to make sure I finished it nicely on the inside. The main seams are all french seamed. The waistband is clean finished as well as the collar facing which I turned under and stitched. You can’t see the stitches from the front when I wear it because the collar folds over them. The armholes are finished with a black handmade bias tape I had on hand. I could have made some matching bias tape but 1. I wasn’t feeling that ambitious and 2. I didn’t want to use up too much of this fabric… I still have enough left to make something else out of it! The hem and slits are a simple 1/4″ double turn. I had to do some trickiness with finishing the top of the slit with the french seams but I think it worked out pretty nicely.
I am so over the moon with the way this dress turned out. Wearing it makes me want to twirl endlessly. I just feel so elegant feeling the fabric flow around my legs and feet. I wore it out for dinner for my birthday a couple months ago and got a rather nice compliment from the waiter :). I cant wait to make a couple more of these. Maybe in some nice lightweight cottons or even a soft linen. This pattern is just screaming to be made in a Nani Iro print!
SKIP TO THE END?
Pattern: Self Drafted
Fabric: Silk Crepe de Chine from stash
Notions: Gold buttons from stash
Finishes: French seams, turned collar facing, turned hem, bias armholes
Time: Pattern + sewing about 4+ hours
Sew it again? Absolutely I want them all!!
To see this dress in action, check out the Vlog here.