Our Shirtdress Sew-Along Facebook group is still open if you’d like to join it. Don’t worry, participants are at various stages of their shirtdress construction so you don’t need to rush to catch up. Or, you can just lurk if you like! [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.]
And don’t forget—shirtdress sew-along participants are eligible to win an Oliso smart iron and some other cool sewing goodies. Detail here about the giveaway (scroll down to end of post).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 are almost done with our shirtdresses! Let’s get them hemmed so we can start wearing them.
There are generally two types of hems for shirtdresses: a traditional, wide hem and a narrow hem. Wide hems work best for shirtdresses with skirts that have a straight edge. The hem edge is turned up anywhere from 1.5″ to 2.5″ and then sewn in place. Narrow hems work best for shirtdresses that look like shirts and may have a curved or handkerchief hem.
Traditional (wide) hems: Call me crazy, but I think a substantial hem is a thing of beauty. I like to turn up my hems about two inches, and I like to finish the raw edge with a piece of lace hem tape or any flat lace I have in my stash. You often see this kind of finishing done on better RTW dresses. Or, you can turn under the raw edge about 1/4″, press and stitch the fold in place; this will give you a clean finished edge as well. Serging the raw edge is another option, though it’s not as elegant.
Press your hem in place, using your iron to steam out any fullness. If you have a lot of fullness in your hem, baste it in place and evenly distribute the fullness. I prefer to then hand-sew the hem, because hand stitches are less visible, but you can blindstitch your hem in place if you like.
And even though I’m a big proponent of hand-stitched hems, there are cases where machine-stitching your wide hem in place looks just fine:
Narrow hems: The narrower, the better! A narrow hem works best for curves and lightweight fabrics. To make a narrow hem, stitch 1/4″ (or less) 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 is pulled by the feed dogs as you machine-stitch. Basting will keep your hem in place and prevent shifting.
While I’m pretty happy with this shirtdress I made, I admit I did a lousy job on the narrow hem:
I wish I had stitched narrower than 1/4″; you can see my hem looks sloppy and bulky and that’s due to too much width. If you’ve never sewn a narrow hem before, you might want to practice first. Below is a narrow hem on a shirtdress as sewn by our dressmaking department:
For narrow hems, sometimes our dressmaking team will stitch two rows—1/4″ and 5/8″ from the raw edge. Turn and press on the 1/4″ line, then turn again. Stitch hem in place. You’ll end up with this nice double row of stitches, and the 5/8 line of stitching helps ease some of the fullness. In the photo above the left arrow points to the hem stitching line, which shows on the front of the garment. The right arrow shows the stitching line made 5/8″ from the raw edge before it was turned up.
A third type of hem for curved edges is the bias-faced hem. This involves a little more work but it’s a beautiful finish for a curved hem and it resists the waving you can sometimes get with a narrow hem. Check out Amanda’s shirt made with a bias-faced hem.
Coming up: I’ll show you my finished Shirtdress #2. Here’s a sneak peek:
You can still join our Shirtdress Sew-Along Facebook Group; plus, don’t forget we’re having a random drawing for an Oliso iron and other sewing goodies. Details here. Have a great weekend! #shirtdresssewalong [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.]