Catching up on my #makenine plans I decided to tackle the shirt dress project last week. I usually don’t go for ready-made patterns, but this one caught my eye on Instagram earlier in the spring.
It’s one of those type of garments that I like, but my BF calls potato sacks. You know, oversized. 😀
Especially in the summer it’s nice to wear something loose-fitting. Bonus points if it’s a one-piece.
Fibremood‘s Filippa seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Cherry on top: it even has bishop sleeves!
I decided to try to resist the urge to make too many modifications to the pattern. I did make a few, but all in all, I’m quite happy with the amount of self control! The final piece still looks like the original.
So, what changes did I make then?
Well, call me crazy but I removed the side seam pockets and added a single breast pocket. This was a quick modification. If you’d like to add this little pocket (even if you keep the side seam pockets), here’s how:
You can simply plan the pocket piece directly on top of the front piece.
It can be a square or a rectangle, and you can make rounded or pointed corners, shape the bottom edge, etc. Just draw the pocket in the shape and size you want. Mine was a plain square, and I centered it between the button placket and the armhole.
Use the two top corners as notches to mark onto the fabric for pocket placement.
Then, trace the pocket piece onto another piece of paper, add a little facing at the top edge. It will be folded under. Finally, add seam allowance all around the piece.
I gave a slightly different shape to the collar by re-drawing the front section like this:
This essentially makes the collar a bit larger and the tip is more rounded.
“Walking” the collar around the neckline I also noticed that it had quite a lot of ease, so I reduced that. It’s my personal preference.
Button Placket and Sleeves
The original Filippa shirt dress has a hidden button placket, but I wanted the buttons to remain visible, so I turned it into a normal button placket instead. This meant that I trimmed both sides where the instructions tell you to trim just the left side (=the button side).
As for the sleeves, I made them CA 10cm shorter because in the summer I don’t like long sleeves. Basically, mine would arrive just below the elbows instead of the 3/4 length.
The sleeves have a curved hemline, so I followed the shape and removed 10cm.
I didn’t need to make any changes to fit the pattern and used the size M as it was (besides the style changes of course). Even skipped making the toile! I guess this is the good thing about oversized garments.
Just ensure that the main areas: chest, back, bust circumference, hip circumference, and length work for you by measuring the pattern pieces.
Fibremood recommends using cotton or linen for this shirt dress.
I chose cotton as I deemed linen a bit too stiff. My original plan included making this piece in two different fabrics, half and half style. I wanted to be open to alternatives and considered everything from print fabric to stripes, polka dots, and checkered. Picking two plain colors was also on the table.
But in the end I left the fabric shop with the safe choice: plain white cotton, and another one with blue stripes. Both just the right weight to not show through. Had I not chosen white, I would’ve preferred more lightweight fabric.
Besides the fabric, you’ll also need buttons, interfacing, and bias tape.
Sewing the Shirt Dress
After having cut the pieces, right and left sides in different fabrics, I pressed and interfaced the button placket. Just like last time, I only interfaced the area that was going to remain on top after folding.
I pressed the two folds before this so that I could then use the second fold as a guide for the interfacing.
The final button placket width was 3cm.
I did read the sewing instructions through but must confess that I didn’t quite follow them. So, in case you see something different going on, it’s just me winging it.
Bias Tape Hem
Next, I united the two back pieces at the c-back so that I could sew the hem.
The instructions recommend using a bias tape for the hem, which is an excellent idea. The hemline has curves, so a bias tape works like a charm. You can also cut strips of fabric on the bias. The pattern pieces for this are included.
I have these rolls of bias tape I got last year because I love finishing necklines and armholes with them. So, I measured the hemline lengths, front and back, and cut three pieces.
I pressed them first flat and then in half (1.) and pinned along the hemline on the right side (2.) In the picture you can see how the tape starts at the second fold of the button placket. For the hidden button placket this won’t work though.
The shirt dress has a tiny seam allowance at the hemline (3.)
I trimmed the seam allowance slightly after sewing so that it would fit nicely under the remaining width of the bias tape, and then pressed the whole thing onto the wrong side (4.)
After this, the final step was to sew near the edge of the bias tape to complete the hem (5.)
The final picture (6.) shows how the bias tape will remain inside the button placket fold. In fact, when the hemline was ready, I then sewed the button plackets.
I also sewed the side seams and “shoulder” seams. The shoulder seam is not at the shoulder, but has been shifted towards the front. I imagine this is to mimic a back yoke, a feature that most classic shirts have.
You could actually add a proper yoke piece by separating it from the back piece. Then you’d cut the piece twice on the fold and the grainline would be horizontal.
The Bishop Sleeves
Now that the armholes were ready, I prepared the sleeves. The fabric is terribly wrinkly after I washed it, because it’s currently so hot here in Italy that I only do minimum ironing… Anyways.
You start by sewing two rows of gathering stitches at the hemline. You can also sew them at the sleeve cap between the armhole notches if you want. Even though this sleeve has a minimum amount of ease at the cap, I find that it’s easier to fit the sleeve into the armhole this way.
Place a pin to the hem where the notch is before gathering, so that you can distribute the gathers evenly; The notch will vanish inside the gathers.
Gather to match the sleeve cuff length. (Yeah, I decided to swap the sleeve cuffs.) Then pin and sew.
Press the seam allowance towards the cuff and then press the cuff in half. Also press the seam allowance of the opposite side already.
Then, close the sleeve seams, and pin the remaining edge of the sleeve cuff in place & sew near the edge. I prefer sewing on the right side because it’s the visible side and I want the stitches to be as perfect as possible.
Here I’ve pinned the sleeve to the dress armhole, matching the notches and seams. In this case you have to remember to cut the shoulder notch, because the sleeve’s cap notch doesn’t match with the shoulder seam; it matches with the notch.
At this point I could finally try on the dress. I actually only drafted the pocket pattern now, because I wanted to see it pinned first to evaluate the size and placement.
Also the pocket was going to be made in the contrasting fabric.
Here’s my pattern and how I proceeded. The seams are all serged, because I didn’t want them to unravel inside the pocket. I pressed the seams under.
First, I sewed the facing in place, and then pinned the pocket onto the shirt front. I used measuring tape to pin it straight. Once I was happy with the placement, I stitched the pocket in place near the edge.
The Shirt Dress Collar
For the collar I had three options, making it all white, all stripes, or half and half. So I did a poll on Instagram and the last option won!
I swapped the sides, too, and even made the collar stand and collar pieces in different fabrics.
Obviously, you just need to remember to add seam allowance at the c-back when making the collar like this.
Interface the top layer.
Start by uniting the two sides at the c-back. Sew the collar first, turn the right sides out, and press.
Then, sandwich the collar between the collar stand pieces, matching the notches, and sew. Notice, that you also match the interfaced sides so that they end up on the same side.
Trim the seam allowance, turn the right sides out, and press. You can also press the non-interfaced collar stand piece’s edge down already.
Stitch near the previous seam to flatten the seam allowance.
Pin the interfaced side to the wrong side of the shirt’s neckline and sew. The interfaced side is the one that remains next to your neck. Press the seam allowance towards the collar.
Finish by pinning and stitching the remaining edge of the collar stand to the right side of the shirt.
My Filippa shirt dress ended up having a total of 11 buttons, including the one on the collar.
As usual, I made my buttonhole template to mark the buttonholes and button placement with basting thread. The buttonholes go on the right side for women’s shirts, and buttons on the left.
My buttons were typical flat mother-of-pearl shirt buttons. So, the vertically placed buttonholes are 2mm wider than the buttons.
I placed them quite close to one another to avoid flashing. After all, this is a dress.
And then my dress was ready!
The Final Result: Filippa by Fibremood
Let’s reveal the final look then. A few details first. These are all the changes I made: the collar, button placket, sleeve length, and pocket.
And here I am, wearing the dress. I made an attempt to wear it with a belt, too, but decided that I prefer the loose-fitting look. I really like the sleeves ending just below the elbow and the gathers are nice and rich.
There’s always something with these long white shirts though that makes it look like I’m off to paint something now. 😀