phew. I made a dress! I'm still very excited about my life choices, but dang, I have a lot less free time than I expected. I'm spending a lot of time on classes and homework, and travel, and being sick.... and verrrrry little time on sewing for fun. I need to seriously work on my planning and time management (and my immune system?) so I can complete more actual projects. But I did finish this dress that I started way back before I left work (ie. early September). It's based on the Mélilot shirt by Deer & Doe.
I set out to make a plaid short sleeve version like the example shown on the site. I made a muslin, things looked good, I was ready to go... and then I decided I needed it in dress form instead. So I hacked the pattern a bit, made 3 more muslins, and then finally started sewing up the real thing, in a totally different fabric. I'll probably still make that plaid shirt someday soon, although a part of me really wants it in dress form too... Ah, indecision!
To change the pattern into a dress, I started by cutting the pattern front and back straight across, just above the highest part of the bottom hemline, in order to keep the waist and hip curves intact - essentially just bringing the hip width straight down for several inches. It was still very snug around the hips (a dress requires more ease for walking than a hip-length shirt does), so I widened the side hips a little more with a few different tweaks. I also added back darts on either side to take it in at the smallest part of my back. The bodice still fits more loosely than most things I own; I have a tendency to buy on the small side and over-tailor when I sew. But I'm happy with the balance I struck between a well-fitting garment and enough ease to keep it casual and comfortable. Once I got the silhouette worked out, I also re-spaced all of the buttons so that they're less dense than on the shirt version.
backsides of my adjustments
The dress is made out of what I think is a lightweight cotton chambray. I got it from my local discount fabric store so the content is a bit of a mystery. I used navy topstitching everywhere to break things up ever so slightly, and I went with natural wood buttons for a little more contrast. I used french seams everywhere, as suggested in the pattern. I always hate french seams as soon as I start doing them (why the extra pressing and sewing step when I could just serge??), but it does look really nice with no exposed seams, so I'm happy. I made self bias tape for the inside of the hem, because I've had bad luck with turning up curved hems and getting them to lay flat. I haven't washed and dried it yet, but so far the bias tape seems to be doing the trick.
I have actually never sewn a button-up shirt or a shirt dress before! This was my first collar + stand, and it was pretty straightforward, although I did reference a tutorial (here) to make sure I got everything in place correctly. My topstitching is a little wonky on the stand (you can see it in the photo below) but ehhh, I'm just going with it.
I brought this with me on a recent trip to Portland, and it was perfect in the early fall weather (shown in a couple of photos with the cardigan I made from a heavily modified Plantain t-shirt pattern).
back darts in action
I can tell the next few months are going to be very busy, but I'm really going to try to sew more (I miss it!) and blog when I do. I'd love to have a more regular cadence here. And I actually have plans for fall sewing, in the hopes that concrete goals will help me get started! Hint: there's a vintage cocktail dress in the mix, as well as some Closet Case Files patterns that I've been wanting to try out for ages.... Fingers crossed that I can knock out at least three things before winter comes along!