Sew Many Dresses – Collared Shirt Dress

I did it! I finished a dress for myself! I love the idea of this sewing challenge, and making garments  that fit my body is a blast. No more being angry in a dressing room, wondering why the shoulders fit but the waist doesn’t. Anyways, here is my new dress!

Sewn from Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time by Tanya Whelan. Top is Collared Shirt Dress, Bottom is A-line Skirt with button extension.

Sewn from Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time by Tanya Whelan. Top is Collared Shirt Dress, Bottom is A-line Skirt with button extension.

I sewed this using the book Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time*by Tanya Whelan. I used the “Collared Shirt Dress” for the top and the “A-Line Skirt” for the bottom, adding the button extension. The fabric is some slightly stretchy denim I picked up at JoAnn fabric. 

Adding colorful facings to a garment can be a fun pop of color. 

Adding colorful facings to a garment can be a fun pop of color. 

First, the good news about this dress. I love how it looks on me. I did make some alterations, such as adding 8 inches to the waist (yes, 8 inches!) but it wasn’t terribly difficult to alter. To do this, I used techniques I learned from the class Sew the Perfect Fit on Craftsy.* This dress is perfect for going to the store, hanging out with my family, going to church or school, or even just spending time at home like I am now. It’s easy to dress up or down and fairly comfortable. 

I also enjoyed putting the pattern together, including figuring out the facings. I used scraps of floral fabric I had saved for the facings, and I love the little pop of hidden color in the garment. It feels like a secret only I know about. I also had a mishap with the seam ripper while opening the button holes and ended up learning how to mend the giant gash I made in the middle of the garment. Needless to say, I will be using very sharp embroidery scissors in the future for that step.

Ripping and mending a buttonhole. The fix isn't perfect, but it's hardly noticeable when I wear the finished garment.

Ripping and mending a buttonhole. The fix isn’t perfect, but it’s hardly noticeable when I wear the finished garment.

Now, the bad news about this dress is that I had quite a bit of trouble with the pattern, and it wasn’t from my newbie lack of experience. This is the 2nd/3rd dress I have sewn for myself, so I’m not brand-new to the craft, but some errors in the pattern and overall execution directions had me scratching my head more than once. For instance:

  • The collar and collar band both said in the directions and pattern to only cut one of each, when you actually need two. It took several YouTube video watches and questions to my mom to verify the book is incorrect.
  • There is a vent on the back of the A-Line skirt to allow the wearer to walk without looking like a penguin. However, while there are directions for this part of the project, there are no photographs of what the back of the skirt looks like. It left me feeling confused and watching more YouTube, which led to a finish I liked better than what was described in the book.
  • The directions on attaching the top to the skirt are incredibly lacking, with only a little more than a blurb on page 32. There is also no visual for this step, and it is incomplete as (after a lot of research) the sewist should stitch two seams on this part of the dress, one slightly inside the original seam allowance to keep the dress from ripping from the weight of the skirt. 
  • This is not an error, more of a finishing technique that should have been accounted for: I would recommend not pressing and sewing your button extensions until the top and bottom have been sewn together. This would have made the corner where the top and bottom are attached much cleaner and more polished than I was able to achieve by sewing them both ahead of time before attaching.

There are still some other aspects of this book I am learning for myself, like how to make the darts and seam lines line up when altering the fit of the garment, but I think this knowledge will come with time of sewing. I also need to wash the dress again (yes, I did prewash it) and do a final press to get pieces like the collar to stay down perfectly, I just haven’t done it yet because I was too excited to wear it right away. Overall I did enjoy the concept of this book and will definitely use it again, but it left a lot to be desired in execution of directions and technical editing. I would consider it a good resource for a somewhat experienced sewist that is able to understand the instructions through past knowledge. I hope you enjoy my project!

*Indicated Affiliate Links*

Have you recently sewn a project you are very excited about? Tell me about it, and feel free to leave links to your own site in the comments below!

One thought on “Sew Many Dresses – Collared Shirt Dress

  1. Julia says:

    Such a cute dress! =) I’m a big fan of shirt dresses, because I think they are universally flattering.

    Sorry to see your buttonhole mishap. I have a tip for future buttonholes: when opening them with a seam ripper, stick a straight pin through the top of the buttonhole, perpendicular to the buttonhole stitching (it will make a T shape, with the buttonhole as the vertical line and the pin as the horizontal line). Then, when you use the seam ripper to open from bottom to top, the pin will act as a stop and keep the seam ripper from going farther than you would like.


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