The Dress Style You Need To Sew Now. Plus, Tips!

2016 shirtdress sewing inspiration. McCall Pattern Company Blog
Shirtdresses on the 2016 Spring runways: l-r, Madewell, Milly (photo by Indigital Images), Lela Rose, Carolina Herrera (photo by Indigital Images)

Wondering what to sew next? Shirtdresses are having a moment this season. Designers from Oscar de la Renta to Madewell included shirtdresses in their Spring 2016 collections, and they’re popping up in store windows everywhere you look. Whether you choose a classic shape with a fitted bodice and attached skirt, or go with a loose, no-waist look, shirtdresses are the epitome of relaxed spring and summer style.

Scroll down for shirtdress inspiration, pattern suggestions, and shirtdress sewing tips.

2016 shirtdress sewing inspiration. McCall Pattern Company Blog
Shirtdress sewing inspo, l-r: Derek Lam 10 Crosby tie-waist shirtdress (Neiman Marcus), Madewell denim shirtdress (Shopbop), BCBG Max Azria Beatryce shirtdress (Neiman Marcus)
2016 shirtdress sewing inspiration. McCall Pattern Company Blog
Shirtdress sewing inspo, l-r: Derek Lam sleeveless A-line shirtdress (Barneys), Michael Kors Collection double-cuff shirtdress (Neiman Marcus), DVF silk shirtdress (Nordstrom)
Shirtdress sewing patterns by McCall Pattern Company
Shirtdress patterns, l-r: Vogue Pattern V9077, McCall’s M6885 (customer favorite), McCall’s M6696 (customer favorite)
Shirtdress sewing patterns by McCall Pattern Company
Shirtdress patterns, l-r: Vogue Patterns V1500, Butterick B6333, Vogue Patterns V1488
Shirtdress sewing patterns by McCall Pattern Company
Shirtdress patterns, l-r: McCall’s M7314, Kwik Sew K4155, McCall’s M7351

Shirtdress sewing tips:

  • If you’re making your shirtdress from a cotton or linen, press, press and then press some more. You want perfectly flat seams EVERYWHERE: collars, cuffs, plackets, armscyes, etc. A pressing tool like this helps you get at those tight areas in collars and cuffs.
  • Topstitching is usually a big feature in shirtdresses. But if you feel your topstitching gets a little wonky at times (whose doesn’t?), then try edgestitching instead, using an edgestitching foot on your machine. Edgestitching looks sharp and professional on shirts and shirtdresses, and it’s much easier to master than consistent topstitching lines are.
  • If you’re making a shirtdress pattern that has a fitted bodice, think about using a cotton with Lycra in it. A little bit of stretch in your woven fabric helps you get a close fit without feeling encased like a sausage.
  • Choose an interfacing weight that’s appropriate for your fabric. For cottons and linens, a lightweight fusible works well. You can also use lightweight woven fabrics you may already have in your stash, like cotton batiste or silk organza.
  • Don’t feel you have to use the pattern’s buttonhole placement guide. Where you like your shirts to have buttons is really a matter of personal preference. If you have a favorite shirt, you can always use it as a guide for buttonhole positions.
  • Speaking of buttonholes, practice making a few test buttonholes before you stitch the first buttonhole on your shirtdress. And always make that first real buttonhole in the least conspicuous place, like near the hem or a cuff. Because buttonholes tend to get better as you go, right?
  • Feel free to mix and match things like collars and pockets from other patterns. Just make sure they’re approximately the same size as the ones you’re swapping out.
  • To keep your narrow hems from getting wavy, try this: Stitch 1/4-inch from hem edge. Turn in on stitching line and press; turn again and press so the raw edge is now encased. Here comes the important part: Baste narrow hem in place. Narrow hems get wavy when the hem shifts and pulls as you machine-stitch. Basting will keep your hem in place and prevent shifting.

We hope this post has you thinking about making a shirtdress this season. If you’d like to see more shirtdress pattern views and RTW inspiration, check out our Shirtdress Pinterest board below (click on the widget). Looking forward to seeing your makes on social media!

Follow The McCall Pattern Company’s board Shirtdress Patterns on Pinterest.

11 comments
  1. I’m planning to make a shirtdress soon. Thanks for this timely post. Can we do a shirtdress sew along?

    1. I’m for that a shirt waist sewalong!

  2. Well I had seen them in all kinds of adds, sewing books/blogs….I’ll have to give it some thought….but I’ll have to buy a waist first….I’d be better off just making a very long shirt-
    A good post

  3. I’ve just bought my shirt dress pattern for my Italian holiday! Perfect timing! I’m obviously following the right fashion!!

  4. I’ve CHANGED MY MIND…..I DO NEED A SHIRT DRESS….think it will be M6885, and love the 2-tone idea…maybe turquoise and green on bottom….a cool drink of water in the summertime! Thanks for the great post!
    I will include my shirt dress for my River Cruise in July….may even make the hat!

    1. I made this pattern, Laura, and it turned out awesome!

  5. I could use a shirt dress in my wardrobe and I do love denim!
    Some additional tips – wash and dry your fabric multiple times. At least three times so you don’t have to worry about it shrinking later when your garment is sewn.
    I love my triple straight stitch on my Viking for a top stitch that looks RTW.
    practice different types of button holes on scrap before you do the real deal on your garment. You won’t be sorry. Use wash away Solvy on top, another stabilizer on the bottom, and cording to really make your buttonhole pop.

  6. If I make a shirtdress, I would definitely make McCall’s 6885. A classic!

  7. Just finished a cotton flannel partial-placket shirt dress from a late 1980s pattern — camp collar, dropped shoulders, continuous placket for sleeve cuff. It’s a giant, balanced plaid in white/black/red. Got it done to wear for Easter Sunday, but will pack it away for next autumn at this point (Easter looks to be about 80 degrees Farenheit this year).

    I flat-felled or French seamed every bit of that sucker — even the in-seam pockets on both sides. The cotton flannel was a dream to sew, even with matching plaid everywhere possible. I made the whomp out of that dress when the pattern was new. Forgot how much fun it was to make up, so am glad I indulged my inner young woman and made it again.

  8. I just cut out a shirtdress, a vintage Ralph Lauren pattern. I’m doing it in red cotton poplin with white topstiching.

  9. nice design that i will juse

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