One of my favorite designers is the Italian brand Etro, which is known for its coats and jackets in beautiful brocade and jacquard prints. There are some consignment shops on the Upper East Side that I haunt regularly looking for an Etro score. In the meantime, I made an Etro tribute coat!
My sewing journey started with two brocades in my stash that I didn’t realize worked well together until Carlos, Vogue Patterns designer, pointed out the obvious to me. One was a black brocade with gold metallic polka dots; the other was a black mini-floral brocade. They are so perfect together:
Then Carlos came to the rescue again, suggesting Butterick B6421 for this Etro-like coat I had in mind. I had completely overlooked this pattern, but once you look at the line drawing you can see it’s the way to go if you want to combine two different fabrics:
This jacket went together quickly. The only alterations I made were to narrow the A-line shape a bit at the lower side seams, and to lengthen the bottom panel so I could wear this more as a coat. (I’m also 5’8″ so I tend to have to lengthen patterns.)
For an Etro-like touch, I stitched some grosgrain ribbon atop the horizontal seams.
The inside is lined with China silk. I edged the facing with black satin piping I made.
I’m really pleased with my Etro/Carlos coat. I like the fact that I can wear it fall through spring, and that you can dress it up or down. This is a great pattern for using up small pieces of fabric in your stash. You could even try mixing up to four different fabrics—just make sure they’re all of similar weight.
Next up: Honestly, I don’t know what I want to make next. January and February are months where I’m never sure if I want to stick with sewing for winter, or just give up and move on to spring sewing. What are you working on?
Do you ever finish sewing something and just go, dang, this turned out so well I can’t believe I actually made this?! That’s how I feel about this second shirtdress I sewed as part of the McCall Pattern Company Shirtdress Sew-Along. I love it! My niece—that’s her above—is the lucky recipient, and she’ll be wearing it to some wedding festivities over the Fourth.
What made this shirtdress a winner in my book? Well, let’s start with the pattern. Butterick B6333 is a classic shirtdress style, very similar to the ever-popular McCall’s M6696 shirtdress pattern, but it has princess seams instead of darts. Princess seams are easy to adjust to get a decent fit, and the vertical lines are very flattering.
Getting equal credit is the fabric, a lustrous cotton blend from Paron’s in the Garment District. Teeny silver flowers are embroidered in rows against a midnight blue background. The fabric has a soft hand and a crisp drape. It was delightful to work with.
And then there’s the piping accent. I wasn’t even thinking about adding any decorative touches to this dress, but when I showed the fabric to Carlos, Vogue Patterns designer, he suggested adding a contrast piping. Good call! This really makes the dress.
So, pattern + fabric + piping = really cute dress! My niece loves it, too.
A few construction points:
After constructing the bodice I had a fitting with my niece. We decided to narrow the shoulder width by about 3/4″, so it has slightly more of a cutaway shoulder effect.
I added a back facing at the neck edge, made from the silver fabric. Not because a facing is needed, but just because it looks pretty. (Scroll down to see photo of dress interior.)
After I attached the waistband I covered the seam in the silver fabric. Again, just for the prettiness factor.
I cut the side bodice front pieces and the side back pieces on the bias. This was another Carlos suggestion.
All in all, this dress pattern is not hard to make and I think we did a good job with the instructions. If you like McCall’s M6696 but prefer princess seams, B6333 is a great alternative.
Note: A few people on our Shirtdress Sew-Along Facebook Group have asked me to share tips on sewing and working with piping. I’ll try to write a post about this in the next few weeks. Long story short: piping is easy!
REMINDER: Shirtdress Sew-Along Giveaway! We are giving away a brand-new Oliso Smart Iron, and a goodie bag from Clover filled with cool sewing notions, to one lucky Shirtdress Sew-Along participant chosen at random. All you have to do to participate in this giveaway is show that you’re finished with your shirtdress, or are at least half-way through with it, by July 31, 2016 [new extended date]. To do so, you can upload a photo to the “Shirtdresses We Made” photo album if you’re a part of our Facebook group (new members welcome!). Or, you can post a photo on your own social media—just tag us and use the hashtag #shirtdresssewalong. If those options aren’t your thing you can email a low-res photo to email@example.com. Can’t wait to see what you’ve made! [8/22/16 update: This group is now closed as the sew-along is officially over. All shirtdress construction information and tips are located on this blog.]
We New Yorkers love to dress in black all year-round, but when it comes to beach coverups we break out the bright prints. I snatched up this floral cotton voile (from Mood Fabrics, no longer available) with the sole purpose of making it into a shirtdress-slash-coverup using McCall’s M6885.
This is now the second time I’ve made this pattern, and I’m still really pleased with it. I like the fact that it’s a pullover, and I like the tab-placket feature.
A couple of notes:
I sewed View B, adding the sleeves from View D.
This pattern has a center front pleat that starts just below the tab. For me, I felt this pleat gave the dress a smidge more fullness than I was comfortable with. So I pressed the pleat and just stitched it in place. This eliminated the extra fullness and visually broke up the print, which I think makes the front of the dress more interesting. The next time I sew this pattern I’ll probably omit the pleat.
I skipped the sleeve tabs, mostly out of laziness, but I’m not really a sleeve-tab person anyway.
I edge-stitched rather than topstitched. And edge-stitching is so much easier than topstitching anyway.
Some people who’ve made this pattern have noted that the sleeves are a bit on the narrow side, and I think they’re probably right, though I’m fine with the sleeves as is. If you think you might have trouble in this area, just measure the sleeves (width) of a shirt that fits and compare that measurement with the pattern piece’s width.
A tutorial on how to sew the placket in this pattern can be found here.
It might have been fun to play around with contrasting collar and placket—maybe a small black gingham, for example.
I added a back facing, which I drafted using the back pattern piece. This facing adds support to the neckline area; plus, I just like the way it looks, inside and out. (photo below)
Bottom line: Surf’s up! I want to sew this pattern again for the fall, maybe in silk like this dress. How are you coming with your shirtdresses? #shirtdresssewalong