Shirtwaist #2

by Erin on February 27, 2008

Liberty shirtdress #1

So, after I finished yesterday's shirtdress (that is, the shirtdress I posted yesterday; I didn't make a damn thing yesterday except trouble) I was pleased enough by the results to jump in with another, this time in Liberty lawn. (I did wear the first dress once before making a second — you never really know how a dress has turned out until you wear it for a whole day.)

This one is a very lightweight Tana lawn, which is killing me … because I made it back in January to wear on a quick trip to sunny California, and since then it's been too friggin' cold in Chicago to wear it here! I take comfort in the fact that the Trib's weatherguy has pointed out that March usually sees at least ONE 70-degree day each year. I'll take mine March 1, please.

Liberty shirtdress #1

Again, I shortened the sleeves and added pockets. Also, I forgot to mention that the gray dress was about 5/8ths of an inch too short in the bodice (I overestimated my short-waistedness, for once) so for this dress I let it back out again. This dress, too, has a button at the waist!

Instead of using the Pellon Shirtailor interfacing on the collar and button/buttonhole facings, I used silk organza, which turned out to be the right idea. It's not too stiff but it does reinforce the fabric just enough. I can't remember where I purchased the organza I used for this dress (I have a suspicion it was left over from a fancy dress I made in 1995), but I just bought some more from Dharma Trading, which seems fine. Since I sew with a lot of light colors I mostly just buy off-white organza and use it for everything. If I did more dark sewing I'd probably buy a couple yards of black silk organza to have around.

Because the lawn and the organza are both so light, I just basted the organza to the facing (just inside the fold) with a long running machine stitch, and then finished the edges by zig-zagging all around them. It sounds more complicated than it is, believe me.

Liberty shirtdress #1

I forget the actual name of this Liberty print — in my head I call it "martini olive." I bought it on the first trip to Shaukat, I think.

Tomorrow: a long-sleeved corduroy version.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

paisleyapron February 27, 2008 at 7:34 am

Beautiful! Perfect for that first warm day. What kind of shoes do you wear with your dresses? This is always a sticky point for me, because I have to have something I can stand in all day, but not look like a 3rd grader or my grandmother who has bad feet.

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the_lazymilliner February 27, 2008 at 7:35 am

Erin, this is quite charming…and right on the button! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist…)

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Erin February 27, 2008 at 7:37 am

Sarah, I’ve been wearing flat penny loafers for that co-ed look. :-) Very comfy, too.

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Stephanie February 27, 2008 at 7:58 am

I love how this turned out. It’s perfect for Spring.

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divajean February 27, 2008 at 8:03 am

I would make the dress in a black/pink print and wear it with my new mary jane type sneakers- the kind that zig zag back and forth and velcro shut. I can’t wait for spring to wear my new shoes with my dresses- today we have 12 inches of snow and its zero degrees with windchill!

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Theresa February 27, 2008 at 8:12 am

I love this one even more than yesterdays. Can’t wait to see the long sleeve corduroy!

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MadeByAmanda February 27, 2008 at 8:18 am

Those buttons are a delightful lemonade-y shade of yellow!

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Me February 27, 2008 at 8:25 am

Beautiful dress! Good call on the organza as interfacing, when I worked at Barbara Matera’s (costume shop) that’s what we used to interface 95% of all collars and plackets. And when you need something heavy there’s “Super” organza, which is wonderful wonderful stuff, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find it outside of New York.

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Ladygrande (Texas Marie) February 27, 2008 at 8:36 am

This dress is just right! Lovely fabric!

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Bex February 27, 2008 at 8:38 am

The dresses are beautiful – and they look fun to wear. Thank you so much for sharing – it is nice to see the dresses you talk of so often!

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HouseMouse February 27, 2008 at 9:02 am

Love it! Maybe your 70 degree day can be around March 20th–this is the perfect dress to usher in Spring!

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Anonymous February 27, 2008 at 10:17 am

I buy all my silks, organza, china silk and charmuse, for linings and slips at Dharma Trading. Very good pricing, perfectly fine quality and I can dye it if I want something other than white (I’ve never tried to dye the organza).Aurelia

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Nancy Bea Miller February 27, 2008 at 10:32 am

Wow, wonderful dress! Casual yet pretty. I love the grey spotted one as well.

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Karen February 27, 2008 at 11:03 am

Beautiful dress! Do you machine wash it,or do you have to dry clean it since you use the silk organza?

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Erin February 27, 2008 at 11:05 am

Karen — thanks! Machine wash and dry … all the way. I wash the heck out of the organza before sewing and it does just fine.

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Julie The Vintage Goddess February 27, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Organza, great hint.Love, love, love that print.

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Cookie February 27, 2008 at 12:59 pm

This looks breezy and fabulous! EXTREMELY well done. The world will LOVE you as you come bopping down the street.Im honing in on my first project, which may be overly ambitious (though Im fully prepared to slave over a muslin version first to work out the kinks.) I want a simple, 60s style sleeveless sheath with round collar to wear under brightly colored beaded sweaters and vintage jackets. Once I get the pattern and technique down, Ill basically be set for the next few years if I make it in beige, black, white, turquoise, etc (in linen, imitation shantung, etc.) This first pattern is right, but the wrong size: http://www.lanetzliving.net/inc/sdetail/47559This other one is the correct size and very appealing (as it has both Quick and Easy stamped on it) (!), but it looks like the easy part is there arent rounded armholes, which would be the whole point when layered with something: http://momspatterns.com/inc/sdetail/11277Ugh. I think I have to keep looking.

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bani February 27, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Ever the mundane: how do you launder it?

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Erin February 27, 2008 at 1:09 pm

I throw it in the washer, seriously. Sometimes I even remember to turn the dial back to “perm press” from “towels”.

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Anonymous February 27, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Very pretty and springy – and it is 70 degrees where I live. Send it on down!!!:)

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bani February 27, 2008 at 2:26 pm

And the organza hasn’t gone miffy on you? That I like, I think silk organza seems like a brilliant whatchamacallit – cooler and let’s not forget a little more luxurious… *hates dry-clean only labels*Stay away from the boil wash though.

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kate February 27, 2008 at 2:30 pm

This is a lovely dress! What do you wear underneath it? Do you make your own slips, too?(Sorry if this posts twice…I got a blogger error the first time so who knows…)

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Cherie February 27, 2008 at 2:32 pm

Martini olives – that’s exactly what I thought when I first eyed that print! What color cardigan goes with? Orange would be great, though it might have to be, sorry, “olive”!

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Margot February 27, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Lively, charming, spritely… I want to keep going on and on. Great dress and thanks for sharing the details.

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Mcfilibuster February 27, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Could you wear a long sleeve shirt underneath? It might not be appropriate for snow, but it could work on a 50 or 60 degree day, especially with tights.Very pretty!

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Erin February 27, 2008 at 3:23 pm

I do make my own slips, too, but the last batch started to yellow. I think I need to buy some silk taffeta …

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Katana Barnett February 27, 2008 at 3:59 pm

oooh let’s see slips!

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Katana Barnett February 27, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Um. Pardon if that’s not an appropriate request. ;)

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Marjie February 27, 2008 at 4:31 pm

How do you order the weather? And do they give you a place to ship the snow and ice to? (Yeah, I know, bad grammar…sorry).

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libby February 27, 2008 at 4:36 pm

So nice to see your work again, Erin, thanks! The piping on the gray made me swoon … mmmmmm! And you can definitely snoogle in another button under the waist seam. No one will ever know it was and afterthought. Those Liberty prints never let you down. I wish I could put my finger on what it was about their designs. They’re so original, but I think it’s their distinctive Scandi-Seussian quality the just kills me every time. I guess the “term” doesn’t apply to them all, but to the ones I like best, definitely yours, and this one.I’ve had the day off and I’ve been cleaning out my studio. Your comment from a few posts back about a mess in your work area being a real “kill-buzz” has been ringing so true and spurring me on.Cheers

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Kellie February 27, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Not to quibble at all with the rediscovery and return of these vintage fashions, which are much overdue, but don’t you think the silhouette of these dresses depends, in large part, upon the bouffant skirt? Your shirtwaists #1 and #2 are excellent instantiations of this pattern, but they don’t seem to have that flare below the waist of the pattern envelope illustrations.I’m not about to advocate wearing itchy crinolines to achieve this look, but it does look good, flatters most figures, and avoids the baggy look of vintage dresses intended for the bouffant look worn otherwise.

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Anonymous February 27, 2008 at 7:49 pm

The pattern envelope illustrations show the dresses with crinolines, or some kind of fluffy slip or undergarment. There is no way to get that look without FLUFF underneath. To get that much fluff without using net (as for crinolines) required some other heavier fabric, but most anything is heavier than nylon net. I speak from experience. I have vague memories of owning nylon tricot slips with lots of tight ruffles at the bottom in order to provide some hem-line poofiness.I am someone who is old enough to have worn crinolines as a young girl. I was in Jr. High when Twiggy was the newest, hottest model and the mini skirt was IN, so I never wore this style as a teen. As a girl, I remember the older teen girls obsessing about crinolines and crinoline care — something about drenching them in heavy starch or sugar water, then letting them dry FLAT so they would be STIFF and provide maximum aerodynamic skirt lift, and the process had to be repeated often, as the crinoline would loose its stiffness when it was worn.Here’s a link to a pattern for the perfect underpinning for a bouffant dress. The yards and yards of ribbon on the edges really make this design: How to make Alice Lons AMAZING petticoats, TV Guide, 1956Notice the photo at the very bottom of the page, were Alice is not in motion. Skirts out to there!Recently, this pattern was reviewed on PatternReview.com. The sewer modified the design somewhat and she correctly notes that the instructions in the TV Guide article are, indeed, backwards: Alice Lon petticoat pattern reviewed Pattern Review Review for the dress for which the petticoat was madeCMC

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Habitual Q. Rake February 27, 2008 at 8:17 pm

That dress is super-sweet. Like a lemon drop on a warm summer day.

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bowerbird February 27, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Completely Lovely! I’ve been making a 50′s sundress pattern that I love over and over as it’s both comfy and stylish…haven’t tried a shirt dress yet. You have inspired me! P.S I did buy a fab vintage one for myself this morning thoughLove your blog!

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guileless February 27, 2008 at 10:09 pm

oh my! this dress brought me out of lurkdom. the colours of the print are great, and YELLOW buttons…how completely delicious! i like to think how light the lawn is too.

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charlotte carroll February 28, 2008 at 8:50 am

hey Erin. new to your blog. I love dresses too. I am using new look 6587 pattern for this summer. style E, and D. What is your opinion on this pattern? I want the kind of 18th century look without the weirdness. So. what kind of fabrics or dresses do you use in the area that you live? since it is so cold? winter dresses?

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charlotte carroll February 28, 2008 at 9:48 am

oh and btw, i LOVE liberty babycord and pique. i have made many dresses for my two girls, but have as yet to make any for myself! tables are turning. thanks for the inspiration!

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Miss Kitty February 28, 2008 at 10:23 am

I will now go buy that pattern. Thank you. :-P

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Anne_022196 February 28, 2008 at 12:51 pm

nice one…i like the pattern and design..probably i will get this..

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La BellaDonna February 28, 2008 at 4:11 pm

For the ladies who are dubious about wearing a complete crinoline under their full skirts, I would point out there is an Easy Cheat:Use the skirt part of the pattern you’re making up to draft a petticoat. It’s not as scary as “draft” makes it sound: just make sure the finished “petticoat” is a couple of inches shorter than the finished dress will be, and experiment with putting ruffles on the “petticoat” until you reach your desired degree of “pouf.” You don’t even have to make yourself crazy with shortening the petticoat and then sewing the ruffle onto the hem; just topstitch the ruffle onto the finished “petticoat” so that the bottom of the ruffle is even with the “petticoat” hem. If you want more fullness higher up, put another ruffle higher up on the “petticoat;” it should overlap the lower ruffle, but not cover it completely. For a gathered skirt pattern being made into a petticoat, you can make a casing and run the elastic through at the waist; for a gored skirt, or something fitted, you can put in a placket and a hook and eye (or just overlap it a bit and put on the hook and eye!). Let the petticoat sit a little BELOW the waist of your skirt, to cut down on bulk at your waistline (this means the petticoat skirt waist will actually be BIGGER than the waist of the dress, so that the petticoat sits lower down on your torso than the dress waist does.) You can experiment with making ruffles out of the “petticoat” fabric; you can try ruffling up some good stiff nylon net (about 7-9″ wide for a good finished ruffle), in which case you WILL want that petticoat fabric between you and the nylon of the ruffle; maybe another layer of fabric over that, to protect the skirt from the nylon. Dubious about nylon? Stitch a band of horsehair (woven nylon strip, made from nylon horses, designed to Stiffen Stuff) behind the hem of the ruffle. Horsehair is washable and is easy to work with; just top stitch it on the underside of the ruffle. If the dress fabric is lightweight, and you have enough, you could even make one ruffle out of the dress fabric! For instance, a yellow print dress might have a plain yellow “petticoat,” with: a plain yellow ruffle; or a nylon net ruffle; or a white eyelet ruffle; or a lace ruffle; or a yellow print ruffle. Or all of them, if you want a Really Full Petticoat (with a Really Mixed Look). A print corduroy dress might have the petticoat in one color of the print, and the edge of the ruffle could be bound in the corduroy. (You might want to bind it using corduroy cut on the weft, since corduroy cut on the bias can get weird.) (N.B.: A Really Full Ruffle is generally considered to be the finished width times 3; if your skirt hem is 100 inches, that means a 300-inch strip of fabric gathered back down to 100 inches. A ruffle two and a half times the finished width, or 250 inches, is OK for a not-too-full ruffle that’s been backed with horsehair. But I’d recommend the Three Times suggestion. My own preference for a finished ruffle length is 7-9″; your mileage, and your height, may vary. But it’s a size to start with. And I completely agree with the zigzag-over-dental floss-or-buttonhole thread-method of gathering chunks of fabric. Mark your ruffle in quarters (that is, half-way, and half-way again) BEFORE gathering; mark your “petticoat” in quarters; match up the quarters to make sure you haven’t gathered too much petticoat ruffle in one spot and not another. Don’t take out the gathering thread! Leave it in! Topstitch the ruffle on a couple of times so it’s nice and secure. DO remember to preshrink your petticoat fabric!!Remember: YOU’RE IN CHARGE. You can do it ANY WAY YOU WANT. Red silk taffeta petticoat with black lace ruffles? Check. Plaid flannel petticoat with eyelet ruffles? Check. Pink gingham petticoat with dotted swiss ruffles? Check. It is a GREAT way to use up some of those weird chunks of fabric that find their way into every stash. Nobody needs to know that you have a gold damask petticoat under that grey wool shirtdress. On the other hand, how cool if you do?

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La BellaDonna February 28, 2008 at 4:19 pm

N.B. I should have added:You can always run a couple of bands of horsehair in the hem of the dress itself, you know. That will also help stiffen the hem, if you can’t face the thought of trying to find or make a petticoat!

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libby February 28, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Wow! la belladonna, that was fabulous. I’ve never wanted to make a petticoat so badly in my entire life, and I don’t even wear full skirts! I guess that’s about to change.Thanks for the inspiration!

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lorrwill March 2, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Just looking at this dress makes me happy inside.I think it is the combination of print and cut reminds me of blissful Spring/Summer days when I was just a wee lass.

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