Monday, September 6, 2010

A pair of 60s shirtdresses

I enjoyed the heck out of the long Labor Day weekend!   I took Friday off, too, so I had a lot of time to sew and relax.  I didn't get as much sewing done as I had hoped (more on that in a minute) but I did finish one dress that I started the previous weekend, as well as a second version from the same pattern.  The weather this afternoon wasn't conducive to photography, so I just have pictures of my dresses on my dress form.  Maybe I'll get some shots of me wearing them later, but I doubt I'll have a chance before next weekend, and I didn't want to wait that long to post.  I don't really love having my picture taken, but I appreciate seeing other people's finished garments actually being worn, so I try to do the same.

Anyhow, here's the pattern I used, a 1960s mail order pattern.  I had been wanting to make a shirtdress, and I liked the collar on this one, and the simple but full skirt.

I made pattern alterations using the bodice pieces of garments I already adjusted in the hope that this would help me get closer to an acceptable fit on the first try.   I'd never done a raglan sleeved garment, and my one previous shirtdress was fitted with a lot of alterations to the garment itself, rather than to the pattern, but I did the best I could looking at the bodice length and width and dart placement for the patterns I did have, and it worked out better than expected.   The first version is a little loose in the bodice and gappy in the armholes, but not unwearably so, especially given that at work I typically have a cardigan on anyhow.

 Like almost everything I make, it's completely lined -- in this case with pale pink cotton/poly batiste.  For some reason, the collar came out shorter than the neckline: still haven't figured out how that happened, as I hadn't made any alterations up front that would affect the neck area!   After assembling the lining, I saw that I needed to add back neck darts to take care of some gapping, but still the collar wasn't long enough to cover the whole neckline.  I think it looks fine that way, though.

The crazy-bright flower fabric was purchased from a Quilt Home online sale earlier this year.  I was going to say that I don't usually wear this particular shade of pink, but then I realized that once upon a time my hair was actually dyed this color ... too bad I didn't have this dress back then!   This was a three-yard piece, and I used darn near every scrap of it.  The belt (not part of the pattern, but I thought it would add something) was pieced together from five or six scraps.

For version two, I used one of the fabrics I bought at High Fashion last weekend.  I made some pattern adjustments to take out a little more from the upper bodice, and re-shaped the sleeve a little to make it more of a cap sleeve, which I think looks more current.   I think it could take out yet a little more from the bodice next time: it fits my dress form really well, but her chest is bigger than mine!  I am actually a B cup, but have a small band size, so flat out removing bodice width is better than a small bust alteration for me.

For number two, the collar fit perfectly with my dart alterations -- go figure, because I never changed the collar piece at all.  I used a butter yellow cotton batiste for lining.  Both dresses have identical buttons.  I had bought an extra card of three for the first dress, because I thought I might rather have four buttons.  When they matched my second dress too, I looked no further.  If I hadn't had these on hand, I probably would have gone for orange buttons.  I made a belt for this one too (again, out of five or six scraps), but I experimented with adding a bias tape edge to give it more definition, and didn't like the result.  I wasn't in the mood for ripping seams on four yards of bias tape, so this one will go belt-less.   With the improvements to fit, it looks better without anyhow.

These are perfect work dresses and I'm looking forward to wearing them.  You know it's a winner when you try it on for fit and don't want to take it off again!   I have fabric picked out for one more version, and then I think it's time to set this pattern aside.

With a four-day weekend, I had hoped I could finish one more dress, but it just wasn't happening.  I find that I often grossly over-estimate how much sewing I can get done, so I decided to track my work time on the second dress.   Wow, that turned out to be an eye-opener: it took just over 14 hours!!!!   I was three hours and 40 minutes in before I even touched the sewing machine.    I felt like I was working at my normal pace, and all this time was actually working on the project: any breaks I took were off the clock.  No wonder I can't meet my pie-in-the-sky sewing goals: I just don't sew all that fast, I guess!   I do enjoy the process, so I don't regret how long it turns out it takes.   I'll be making more realistic project completion time estimates in the future.


  1. These are darling. I love the collar too : )

  2. Oh, can we see pictures of you wearing them? They are just darling!