Prada-inspired shirt dress

This whole project all came about because I couldn’t resist some ex-Prada fabric I spotted on my friend Dibs’s website, Selvedge and Bolts! She specialises in sourcing gorgeous quality high-end and ex-designer fabrics from Italy and France. This one caught my eye because funnily enough it doesn’t scream ‘designer’ but I liked the graphic print which stands out amongst so many florals.

I ordered 2 metres although I didn’t have a plan for it, then it occurred to me that I should look at actual Prada designs to see if there were any that were at all wearable by someone like me (ie. not six feet tall or looking about 17 years of age!) Somewhat surprisingly there were some really lovely shirt-dresses in eye-catching fabrics.

This was just the springboard I needed so, after a bit of a search through my patterns, I found this McCalls 7470 which had originally been free with Love Sewing magazine at some point in the recent past. The Princess seam lines and shirt styling were exactly what I wanted except I would change the skirt to be a dropped waist dirndl to echo the original.

The #7470 is a Palmer Pletsch fitting method pattern which I’ve never attempted before. I’ve been thinking lately that many of the garments I’ve made in recents months have either been old favourites or very simple shapes with little use of interesting techniques or style lines. I needed to stretch my sewing muscles a bit more-use them or lose them-so I set about following the instructions to tissue fit the bodice first. By a combination of body measurements, knowing my body quirks, periodically trying on the pinned tissue and using my padded-out dress stand Doris I arrived at a fit that I was happy with.

I’m not going to claim it was particularly easy but there are a lot of written instructions on how to approach it on the accompanying sheets to help you, plus online tutorials too. I’d recommend making a toile (or even two) if you need to before using your fashion fabric to avoid expensive mistakes.

I knew fairly early on that my 2 metres of fabric wouldn’t be enough for what I had in mind, and I didn’t want to waste my lovely Prada fabric so I opted to make the pattern instead in a vibrant printed stretch cotton which I’d bought in Paris at last year’s Sewcial event.

I took my time sewing the dress, I wanted to enjoy each part of the process. There is a two-part collar for example, pleated patch pockets with flaps, and a band running right down the front. I had a few problems with insetting the sleeves though. I’d made a small alteration the back of the arm scye which resulted in it getting a little smaller so I expected there to be a discrepancy but it was much bigger than I anticipated, the sleeve head was far too large and wouldn’t fit without puckering and gathering. I looked at a few examples of #7470 on Instagram and many versions were either sleeveless or didn’t mention it as a problem. Anyway, after a lot of fiddling about in the end I dropped the arm scye down to make it larger so that the sleeve head fitted properly.

The skirt was simply 3 rectangles, two for the front and one for the back which I pleated onto the shirt top using a fork to make each pleat even.

I used some plain white cotton scraps to make a faced hem.
I joined them into a long strip, folded lengthwise to about 5cms in width.
It was sewn onto the hem, all raw edges together.
At the centre front I enclosed it within the band for a neater finish.
the turned centre front band
the final stitched hem-it needs a good steamy press here. You can read more about hem finishes in my recent post here.

So what started as a Prada-inspired dress for one fabric has still ended up as a Prada-inspired dress but made in a different fabric! I finished the whole thing off with these beautiful buttons from Textile Garden all the way down the front.

the buttons look great
I love the detailed pockets too.
the collar is nice and crisp
the sleeves are two-part with a deep cuff
Yup, I’m happy with that!
I would have added a self-fabric belt like the Prada original but there wasn’t enough fabric left, just scraps.

So that’s my Prada-inspired dress up to this point, just not made with actual Prada fabric. I have a plan for it though because there was another shirt-dress that caught my eye…

I love the idea of a completely different fabric for the sleeves and the back
The front isn’t as I’d want it but I really like how the sleeves are such a contrast.

I’m really pleased with the outcome and the way it fits, and because I took my time and didn’t rush, it was an enjoyable process. I’d fallen into the habit of making simple projects, I felt something more complex was needed.

Until next time, happy sewing

Sue

a shirt for Mr Y

 

img_0465I spend most of my time making things for myself or other people and, apart from a few pairs of PJ shorts, I haven’t made anything for Mr Y in years. I thought that needed to change so when we were away for the weekend in November we paid a visit to Sew Creative in Bury St Edmunds. It’s recently been acquired by Sew Much To Do, Ely although the name hasn’t changed at the moment. I only went in for some beeswax which they were out of stock of at the time but never mind, plenty of other things to look at hehe! They’re a lovely, busy little shop with knowledgable and friendly staff, as is so often the case for me, I wish I lived nearer (although it’s probably best for my bank balance that I don’t….

For a small shop they have a very extensive selection, and upstairs was also a wide range of sale fabrics too. I spotted a nice burgundy check which I steered Mr Y towards-he thinks he chose it himself but what he didn’t know was I’d already bought him a burgundy jumper for Christmas and that this fabric would go very nicely with it!! Devious eh?

He also saw a dark green cotton which he liked so I let him choose that for himself…I had no agenda for that one. I hadn’t got a man’s shirt pattern to hand so I guessed at 2.5m of fabric for each, which turned out not to be enough really-more of that later. img_0524

I ordered a couple of patterns from Sew Essential because Burda patterns were half price at the time. My beloved isn’t a slim fit kind of chap so it would have been foolish for me to pick a super-trendy indie pattern for him because it wouldn’t fit and he wouldn’t wear it! Traditional shirts are the way to go for him.

Mr Y chose style C but when I came to lay up the pattern pieces it was obvious, because of the check print, that I was going to be a bit short for all the pieces. It’s a two part collar so I opted  to cut both under-collar parts in a contrast grey cotton that I had a small amount of, and the inside shoulder yoke too. Doing this saved just enough fabric although the matching wasn’t going to be spot on, Mr Y wouldn’t be super-critical about that (even if I was myself) Although Mr Y is 6’3″ tall the body and sleeves would have been monstrously long on him so I shortened the pieces a fair bit and, ultimately, they were a much better length for him-thus saving fabric too.

The pattern went together well by and large, the only difficulty I had was in following the instructions for front plackets. Burda patterns expect you to have a good working knowledge of construction ( which I do) so they give a minimal amount of instruction. I think my problem was that I’m so used to making female button plackets that I couldn’t quite get my head around swapping them the opposite way around. I had one of Mr Y’s other shirts there for reference so I worked it out in the end. This is a useful tip if you’re ever not sure what you’re doing, have a similar or identical ready-made garment to hand so that you can study how it’s put together. If you keep in mind how you want your finished garment to look this can help as you construct it. Having one of his shirts also meant I didn’t need to keep trying it on him which is handy because he’s often out!

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cutting the patch pockets on the bias meant that I didn’t need to have perfect matching and it looked more interesting.

This is the underside of the collar and the inside yoke. You can also see that I cut the inner collar stand in two parts as well because it doesn’t match at the CB.

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The finished cuffs with their buttoning plackets, again not a perfect match but good enough.

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The first finished shirt.

Mr Y was delighted with this shirt and imagine his surprise when he opened the parcel containing a matching jumper…

I made the second shirt in the green fabric without his knowledge (he thought I hadn’t had time before Christmas) Strangely I managed to get everything out of the 2.5m this time, partly I think because I didn’t need to pattern match, the fabric was the same width as the burgundy after all.

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The box pleat on the back.

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The two-part top collar

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top-stitching around the sleeve-head and the patch pocket.

The sleeves are a basic shirt-sleeve construction which is done on the flat so no slightly  tricky insetting of sleeve-heads.

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A detail on the patch pocket-I always sew little triangles to make them a bit stronger.

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The side seams feature an insert detail at the hem (blurry photo, sorry)

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I cut one corner of the cuffs at an angle on the green, to give it a quirky detail.

So there we have it. Burda 6874 is a good basic mens shirt pattern, I would describe it as an intermediate level because there are details like the two-part collar and plackets on the cuffs which need a bit of understanding and interpretation, so definitely not for a beginner. If you’re looking for next-steps though this could be a project for you to try but maybe make it in a plain or non-matching fabric for your own sanity.

I don’t currently have any pictures of Mr Y modelling them because he’s a bit shy so you’ll have to take my word for it that he likes them, and looks very nice in them!

Happy Sewing, and Happy New Year!

Sue

A Grainline ‘Alder’ shirtdress with sleeves

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I’ve already made one Alder earlier in the summer and liked wearing it more than I expected to…a slightly bizarre statement surely?  I loved the fabric, a cute butterfly-print poplin bought from Backstitch in the spring, and I like the style a lot but it felt a bit snug over the bust (and I’m not large) and I couldn’t get the collar to go on the neatly. This may have been because I forgot halfway through (or never actually checked) that the seam allowances are 1/2″ which isn’t a typical SA for most patterns sold in the UK. If I used 1.5cms this would explain why it was a bit tight. Rookie error!

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Sorry about the messy hair-I was on holiday!

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I made view A again.

I added a box pleat to the back this time to create a little extra fullness, as well as it being a new detail. This is simple to do. Instead of placing the pattern piece directly against the fold of the fabric just move it parallel away from the fold by the amount you want, I moved it by 2cms which added a total of 4cms. [If you don’t want fullness all the way to the hem, place the hem against the fold and pivot the pattern piece from that point away from the fold at the top by as much as you want to add] Then you can pleat out the extra as you wish, I top-stitched it down, western-shirt style.

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This is what it looks like finished

I decided exploit the distinct pile of the fabric by cutting the patch pockets on the bias. It was pretty straightforward from then on to make up the dress, I was really careful about the seam allowance this time.

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pockets cut on the bias and saddle stitched

I top-stitched most of the seams using the saddle stitch setting on my machine [it looks like 3 lines of stitches side by side in the diagram if you’ve got it, it oversews each stitch so they’re highlighted more than if you just did one row of normal stitch in regular thread]

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This time the collar went on just fine, I must have goofed somewhere on the previous one.

In the end I decided not to make it sleeveless as before so I added sleeves from a Simplicity pattern I’d used previously. I checked the arm scye measurement against the sleeve head to ensure the sleeve was big enough, but not too big, to go into the armhole. This sleeve has a simple cuff without a placket so it was speedier to make and not too bulky in the cord fabric.

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Finished cuffs, I haven’t top stitched them although I might…so indecisive

I should mention that I’ve also added pockets to the side seams this time-always handy for a tissue to go through the washing machine and cover everything in white fluff!img_0346

Considering I have about 4 billion buttons in my collection I was somewhat surprised to not be able to collect together enough buttons all the same! So….there are two different-coloured ones on the front and perfectly matching red ones on the cuffs, a quirky detail I like to think.

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You’ll notice it’s been hard to capture the colour of this.

And there we have it, it needs a bit more of a press judging by this photo but I think it will be a lovely cosy winter dress with thick tights or leggings, and boots. The pile on plain cord gives lots of different shades even when it’s all cut in the same direction as this was.img_0418

…and there’s still a bit of fabric left too, perhaps I’ll keep that another 23 years and make something for my yet-to-be-born grandchildren!

Happy Sewing,

Sue xx