The Vintage Shirtdress … at last

Hello sewing chums,

I normally try to post each weekend with an occasional mid-week post but the combination of end of term madness and Wimbledon has meant that I have fallen behind with my self-imposed schedule … now I get why the more sophisticated bloggers schedule posts.  Still, I have been active on Instagram and am very pleased with just how frequently I am wearing my own makes these days. Anyway, the only reason I am bothering to give you this little explanation is just in case you were following my progress at the Sew Over It studio to make my Vintage Shirt Dress; I blogged Week One, then Week Two – were you having restless nights worrying about what happened on Week Three? Well fret no more – it’s finished!

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I have to admit the final workshop was not a happy experience for me.  Following the problems of the previous week I had done a lot of work at home to get back on track and arrived at the class with only the neckline facing, buttonholes and hemming to go. The first task we all had to do was choose fabric for our next shirtdress. Lisa had kindly arranged for each of us to have a new pattern and fabric so that we could make another shirtdress (if you read about week two you’ll understand this).  I picked a floral in deep, rich colours which I thought would make a great layering shirtdress in the cooler months (what is the matter with me thinking about autumn at the start of the summer holidays?) but yesterday when I was wearing my Gabriola and thinking about how much I enjoy wearing a maxi, I suddenly realised what a great maxi it would make.

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Anyway, back to class. The neck facing went on swiftly and I began to get excited thinking I might actually be able to wear it to see  The Importance of Being Earnest later that week (a theatre trip with colleagues to see farewell to a lovely lady who had been at our school for 29 years). Well, that was SO the wrong thing to do.  Once I had had that thought, nothing went right.  I spent about two hours faffing about with the buttonholes and didn’t get a single one finished.  It turned out my machine was at fault but by the time that was established I was in a complete strop and left the workshop in tears. Apologies to Julie if you read this.  I must repeat here what a wonderfully patient sewing teacher Julie is.

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Our school library is actually much better appointed than this photo would indicate!

Another frustrating feature about this is that my own machine had a fault with the button hole function and as I haven’t got it fixed, I couldn’t finish my frock at home.  Hoorah for working in a school – I went to the textiles room after work and finished my button holes.

My not very good buttonholes - I need to work on this

My not very good buttonholes – I need to work on this

I struggled to get decent photos – tried to get a few in the garden but it was overcast and the others were taken at school on my first day of wearing the dress.  It was Prize Giving day (linked to Y13 leavers) so it was actually worn under my academic gown  (no photos of that piece of ridiculousness).  Thanks to my colleague Liz for taking photos in the library for me.

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A silly picture of me twirling - it seems to be the rage in blogs at the moment

A silly picture of me twirling – it seems to be the rage in blogs at the moment

I will definitely make the dress again – I actually really like it and it fits well after all the alterations but next time I will make it in the right size.

imageI really must comment on the gorgeous fabric.  It’s Liberty Tana Lawn bought in Cloth Kits, Chichester.  They always have a good selection of Liberty including some on sale (which this was).  The design is Winter Dreams of Spring and if you study it closely all sorts of lovely things come into focus but from a bit of a distance it looks rather subtle.  I bought three metres as the pattern suggested I needed and managed to also get out of it a Sorbetto (of course I did) and made a tie for my colleague to celebrate him passing his NQT year.

Sorbetto worn at work with chinos

Sorbetto worn at work with chinos

I think it works really well as a tie

I think it works really well as a tie

I haven’t seen the tie on yet as I only gave it to my colleague on Friday – the last day of term – but he seemed pleased with it.

Well, it’s been a picture heavy post and not too many details about the actual shirtdress.  I think that’s because the making process was fraught and not a happy experience for me so I didn’t want to dwell on the detail but I am certainly pleased with the outcome.

And so begins, seven happy weeks of holidays with much reading, sewing, running, tennis, cooking and hopefully blogging planned.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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38 responses

  1. Hi. Ooh I must have left the class before the tears. I had problems with my buttonholes in class and my machine did three perfectly before messing up two of them. I decided to call it a day at that point. But I think that the problem was my fabric which was is very dense. My dress is still unfinished. I have taken my elderly Pfaff machine to be serviced before I attempting any more buttonholes – not its strength at the best of times. Can’t wait to finish and wear it. Love your fabric. x

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    • I was SO frustrated! If I haven’t been banned I’m going to do the Ultimate Shirt class in September – I haven’t done a collar with a stand or cuffs yet. Bought some lovely daisy fabric today in Cath Kitson for only £8 a metre – down from £20. Happy Sewing!

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  2. This looks lovely on you and well done for persevering when the odds were stacked against you! I’m in the middle of making this dress too minus the sleeves. After seeing yours I know I’m going to love it! 🙂

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  3. Enjoy your break! Do you think that the amount that you have learnt along the way makes up for the struggle? In which case it is a huge success!
    I always thought that a shirt dress would be one of the most complicated things to make so hats off to you.

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  4. Loving the fabric, and cannot believe you can throw a strop! hope it ws a good one.
    My two fave machines are ‘off’ their buttonholes at the moment, it is causing me no end of trouble and reducing the choices I want to sew…..
    bestest daisy j x

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    • My machine has never sewn them. It does the bottom bar, one side and then stops. It’s still in guarantee but I haven’t taken it back as I heard they could have it for up to six weeks – what would I do with myself?!

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  5. Another sorbetto? It’s becoming your favorite lattern, isn’t it? 😀 I love Sew Over It. Even though I’m American. I would love to take a class from them! I’m glad this dress worked out. It works wonderfully as a tie and top, too! How much fabric did you have after finishing the dress?

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  6. Ah, so pleased to see your finished dress – it’s turned out beautifully, despite the ups and downs of its construction! It’s nice to see a long sleeved version too, which I think is a perfect match for that classy fabric. Have a good summer break. x

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  7. Lovely print and the finished dress looks really good – not sure how much longer I can hold out before buying it! I always get overstressed when I have a sewing deadline and end up making more mistakes than usual.

    Louise

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  8. The finished dress looks fantastic despite your troubles making it. Just imagine how easy your next version will be! A maxi is a great idea – i cant wait to see it!,

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  9. I’m sorry to hear that the construction wasn’t a pleasurable experience but you should be rightly pleased with the finished dress. The fit of the bodice looks perfect. Lovely Liberty too. I haven’t seen that print before. X

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  10. What a great fit! Was definitely worth the blood, sweat and tears! And the style shows off the fabric too – great combination! And a sorbetto too!! Who’d have thought, lol! Hope you have a happy holiday and September doesn’t come round too fast! 🙂

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      • Thank you. Just back from Greece and intend to get on with some sewing now. Roman blinds to start then who knows what! Goldhawk Road looks a must-visit. See you at the festival x

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