Thursday, 21 June 2012

Chambray Shirt Dress

I can finally cross this item off my Want List! I've had the idea of making a shirt dress for such a long time. It's one of those iconic '50s daywear pieces that would have been a staple in most women's wardrobes, yet the project has always been put on the back burner in favour of those fancier or quicker projects- the blouse in that pretty fabric I just bought on a whim, the skirt to wear to this event etc etc.

Handbag made by my lovely sister Kally, who blogs over at Kalandra Jane- Millinery and Musings

On a fabric shopping trip last month I spotted a roll of lovely cotton chambray amongst the racks of wool suitings, in a beautiful soft grey colour. The colour of a chambray fabric is created by weaving white weft threads with coloured warp threads; in this case, white is woven with black to create the grey. It struck me as the perfect fabric for a shirt dress: it has a lovely crisp hand with a good weight and drape, and is breathable and cool for summer wear. And only cost me £1 per metre!

When it came to a pattern, I improvised a little. I used my Butterick kimono sleeved shirt pattern for the bodice, cut at the waist. Oddly, this time I was perfectly happy with the fit straight out of the envelope unlike last time I made up this blouse. I drafted a three-quarter circle skirt pattern, and cut it in four gores. The whole dress took about 2.5m of fabric (which I think was 60" wide).

For closure, I used two vintage buttons from the batch I purchased a few months ago; grey pearlised flower shapes 1.5" across. I think with the simplicity of the bodice style the large buttons really work well. It also meant I had to try bound buttonholes for the first time, which turned out better than I expected! I also found a buckle in the same lot that matched the buttons well enough, though not quite perfectly, so made a self-fabric belt. The skirt has a short zip at the centre front as well for ease of dressing. The hems are hand finished with a near-invisible catch stitch, and the sleeves are finished with self-fabric bias facings, also hand stitched in place.


The photos were taken in our local park, which is set in the grounds of the now ruinous home of the local Lords of the Manor, which dates right back to 1362 when the original pele tower, now the central building of the large manor house, was built. I just wish this place wasn't all locked up- I've always been fascinated by the ruins of castles and old buildings and would love to walk around inside.  I'm amazed I've lived here for two years now and never knew this place existed though!

Cuteness :)

For more shirt dress loveliness, pop over to A Fashionable Stitch, where Sunni is currently hosting a very wonderful looking 2-in-1 Shirt and Wrap Dress Sewalong, complete with inspiring eye-candy and online fabric discounts!


  1. Absolutely beautiful, I love it! The chambray, buttons and belt are all perfect. It's a fabulous dress, well done! x

  2. Wow, this came out so nice. I haven't done bound buttonholes yet, but I'm working up the courage. Great vintage finds on the buttons and belt buckle. You did a wonderful job!

  3. Love this dress and it looks wonderful on you. Love the setting for your photos as well. I'm with you, I'd love to go inside the ruins of the manor!

  4. Strolled over from did a great job making a pretty yet functional dress. And my kids always ask me to spin my circle skirts, too!

  5. I so can't be bothered with bound buttonholes. I have a dress that needs fourteen of them doing, and I rather awkwardly chose to make it in doubleknit! Lumpy!

    Oh my, whoever could have made you that fabulous bag? ;)

    1. Damn, I was supposed to meantion you! *runs off to edit*. You could always do the binding in a different fabric, if you can find a lightweight cotton in a match or a suitable contrast. Would be better actually as it would stop them stretching. Fourteen is a rather horrifying number of them though; two was bad enough!

  6. What lovely photos make sure you tip the photographer ;-)