This is the perfect season for sewing button down shirts and dresses. I have had several ideas spinning around in my head and on my style board, and it feels good to have one come off the machine!
This is actually my first traditional shirt-dress despite lofty goals for quite some time. I chose the Bonn Shirt pattern for the slim slightly-fitted design and lovely sleeve detail. Kennis worked some feminine features into the pattern while maintaining the classic button down look and feel. The mandarin collar is my favorite element. It is flattering and showcases simple jewelry which is all I really have right now. Jewelry is another thing I would love to make myself, but in the meantime I’m taking recommendations for your favorite artisans!
I’m not sure what it is about shirt-dresses that draws me to them. I’ve been slowly working to define my style and one thing I’m learning is not to complicate it. You can get caught up in finding your personal color pallet, body shape and design aesthetic, but a lot of credit should be given to what you are drawn to plain and simple. The likelihood is that you are drawn to it because it looks good ON you! And I think that shirt-dresses look good on my tall, athletic frame…especially when they are long enough for me, which has never been the case until today 😉
I think this will be a highly versatile piece in my wardrobe. I can wear it for date night or church, but it also has a casual vibe if I pair it with flats. The sleeves I chose don’t work well with cardigans, but the fabric has a temperature regulating feel and I think it will work for a good 8 months out of the year.
This fabric is the Ice Tencel Twill from Indiesew. There is actually still a remnant left, and she has one in watermelon as well as a rayon twill. I’m going to level with you, all this hype around tencel and tencel twill is for good reason. The fabric is amazing, making this dress one of the most luxurious pieces I own. It’s a bottom weight fabric with drape, so it won’t work for structured pants, but is great for dresses, skirts, jackets, or relaxed fit pants. This one has a soft sueded feel with a sand-washed appearance. The main thing is that it is luxurious and high quality. This garment is going to withstand a lot of wear, which is great because shirt dresses are timeless.
I read the fabric files for Tencel since this was my first time sewing with it, and my take-aways were to use a rayon heat setting and microtex needle. If you have this same fabric, I found Gutterman 788 to be an exact match. On my Instastories I showed it as a little lighter, but I was comparing to the wrong side of the fabric, it matched the right side perfectly! And speaking of the color of this fabric, I don’t need a color test to know this is my color. It is an exact match for my eyes and I happen to also be drawn to it – see the connection there?
I made a straight size 4 with my standard broad back and length adjustments. I added 2″ to the bodice, 2″ to the skirt and 1″ to the sleeve. I added 1/4″ to the seam allowances so that I could do french seams. The only design change I made was to do a wide hem by adding an additional 2″ at the bottom. I lowered the bust dart by 1″ after tissue fitting, but I probably should have left it alone. I was actually mortified when I tried the almost finished dress on and one of my bust darts was completely below my bust-line! I must have angled it completely wrong. It was one of those mistakes I couldn’t live with so I had to unpick it. Unfortunately mirror fitting confused me and unpicked the wrong one. “Other left Michelle!”
I decided I want to start keeping track of my time investment, and share it here as well. Erica does this and I find it very helpful. Since this is my first time including it you have nothing to compare it to, so it won’t mean a whole lot. Just know that I am pretty slow with my craft.
Tracing, cutting, and fitting took 2 hours and construction took just shy of 6, but I think it should have taken me 4. I struggled with the combo of a narrow sleeve hem with the heavier fabric, plus there were a few places I didn’t add 1/4″ to the seam allowance, so the finished seams were hard to do with only 3/8″ to work with. And then my bust dart debacle added an hour. Granted there are always set backs, but at 2 hours in I only had sleeves, hem and buttons left, so I do really think this can come together relatively quickly for a shirt dress.
All in all I am giving my seal of approval to the pattern, the fabric and the combo of the two, thank you for reading!
This pattern was provided to me by Indiesew, but as always, all opinions are my own.