Early in May I announced a few fun sew-alongs that I would be participating in and one of them was the McCall’s ShirtDress Sew-Along. I just love shirtdresses and couldn’t wait to get started on this project.
Classic Shirt Dress
Originally referred to as shirtwaist dresses, the shirtdresses we know today debuted in the late 1930’s and became a wardrobe staple throughout the 1940’s and 50’s. Shirtdresses can offer both a casual and put together look depending on how you accessorize it.
While they’ve never really gone out of style, there has been a sudden resurgence of shirtdresses in the fashion world, as many celebrities have been donning this classic look on the red carpet recently.
For this particular project I decided to use McCalls 4769 pattern, from my stash. The pattern is from the early 2000’s and is discontinued, however I loved that it features 6 different options for making this dress.
Although I was working with a modern pattern, I wanted to give it a 1940’s feel. Because when I think of shirtdresses I think of the 1940’s. Also, this particular pattern had a simple a-line style skirt that lent itself to a 40’s look.
To give my project more vintage appeal I decided to use a vintage style floral print fabric that I had in my stash. This lovely cotton in a lavender purple shade features small magenta flowers.
I also happen to have the perfect pink pearl like vintage buttons to add to the vintage feel of the dress.
I had only a limited amount of the purple floral fabric so I decided to make view A. Also, I find fitting sleeves to my country girl arms rather a chore, so I prefer making sleeveless patterns.
This was the first time I made this pattern, and I had read many people online say that the collar was rather difficult. So I decided to make a wearable muslin.
For the muslin I used a white cotton covered in tiny navy blue leaves. I also added simple blue buttons to the dress and made a matching belt.
The dress body came together really easy. I graded a size 16 at the bust to a 22 at the waist. I also graded the arm holes from a size 16 at the shoulder to a size 18. This is how I work most patterns, however I found the dress to be too tight, so instead of undoing the whole thing, I decided to sew the button band at ¾ inch instead of the ⅝ inch seam allowance. This gave me a much better fit, but I wasn’t too keen on the wide button band.
When it came time to do the collar, I just sort of winged it. And while I thought I had done a good job, I realized I had not correctly attached the upper collar to the lower (band facing) collar.
Despite my errors I was happy with the overall outcome.
As I mentioned earlier I wasn’t happy with the wide band on the wearable muslin, and since I was using relatively small buttons for my final dress I knew that I needed to adjust the sizing.
I kept the back seam sewn at the ⅝ inch seam allowance, but I sewed the side seams , including button band all at ½ inch all the way around. For the button band facing I went ahead and sewed at the instructed ⅝ inch seam allowance. This gave me a narrower band, yet still added the extra wiggle room I needed.
Since I had issues with the collar I decided to do some homework on the matter and found a lovely collar tutorial from Handmade Jane for this very pattern. The pattern instructions are very vague about the notching and the tutorial helped.
Once I got to the actual construction though I decided not to notch and fold over my top collar piece. Instead I just used bias tape to find the edge and left it straight all the way across and then slip stitched it in place.
I love this dress! I love that while McCalls 4769 is a modern pattern it’ has a vintage flare. I love the decorative print and buttons I used, and the overall look.
I love that I was able to get this dress put together with limited fabric, which meant to get creative in places. I didn’t have enough length left over for the button band so I sewed pieces together matching up the seam line with the seam line of the waist so it look like it was intentional.
I also didn’t have enough fold for both sides of my collar, so again I had to piece one of them together. I used this as the under collar.
Saddly though, this dress is supposed to have pockets but I got over zealous when I started sewing and forgot to add them in. Since I used French seams throughout, I decided not to undo my seams when I realized my mistake.
While this dress may not have pockets, the next one definitely will. Yes, I plan on making yet another version of this dress, because I love it so much. So, don’t be surprised if you see it in the near future.
Very cute! I love the fabric that you used, it’s really beautiful for the summer. There’s nothing like a crisp, cotton shirtdress for hot weather – it’s just the most fabulous look. Great job!
Thank you Jessica I do love to wear cotton in the summer 😉
Ahh it’s awesome! I love shirt dresses and this is so fresh and summery. Nicely done 🙂
Thanks Tanith, I really like how it came out.
Such a pretty, everyday dress. It looks lovely on you! I need the same in every colour and print!! Shirt dresses are so handy in the summer, cool and comfy while still remaining feminine and elegant! Total winning patter here!
Thank you Christina! I am in love with this pattern and just have to finish sewing the buttons on to my latest version of this dress. I totally agree shirtdresses are the best 😉