Oops! Apparently I've accidentally deleted all of my images. I'll see about fixing that soon.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Blue Shirtwaist Dress: Part 1

I've been wanting to make a shirtwaist dress for myself for a couple of years now but just had never eked out the time or shelled out the money for the yardage of fabric involved. In fact, I knew that just the fitting of such a garment was likely to take more time than I usually care to expend on something I'm keeping for myself.

The original idea was for a 1940's era shirtwaist dress: simple, everyday wearable.  But as time has progressed and I've amassed a huge file of pictures of patterns and dresses made by other bloggers, my ideas shifted around slightly.  In looking at many pictures of 1940's dresses, the skirt portion is often very smooth in the hip area and the sleeves often have that nice little poof.

The thing is, the pattern I have been drooling over for the last decade or so is actually from 1964, has no poof to the sleeve cap, and the skirt is gathered at the waist.

So when I saw Lladybird's shirtwaist dress earlier this year I thought, "yay, that looks nice! I can just split the difference!"

Check out her post about it here

And then I had no time to work on it and no fabric to make it out of.  S5366 called for more than 5 yards of fabric (while I have many pieces of fabric in my stash they tend to be much smaller yardages than that). So I waited.  Finally a sale came that I couldn't pass up.  This pretty pale blue cotton with little green flowers found its way to the clearance section and there was enough left for me!

Now, back in June you may recall I worked on making some basic slopers for myself, so I decided to start there.  I laid out the paper pattern and traced it onto muslin. I want the bodice of the dress to be fairly close-fitting so I didn't add any wear ease but did make sure to give myself plenty of space in the seam allowances to make changes.

I began by sewing it up on the darts I had already figured and then tweaking until I had the fit I wanted.  Then I added some basic straight sleeves.  Surprisingly I ended up taking it in more than letting it out. Sometimes I really wish my body shape would stay more static if only for the ease of fitting!!

I want to wear this both over a modern bra and a corset, so after I fit it over the bra I tried it back on over the corset to make sure it would still work. Happily it did.

Muslin Front

In the end I decided to make the two front waist darts into tucks for a softer look. I also added some waist darts to the back and decided to convert the armscye shoulder darts into an arched back yoke.
Muslin Back

I'm still not sure about the collar. I was originally thinking I would do a contrasting peter pan collar, a very small one, but perhaps a more squared off collar would look better. I just am not sure at this point.
what to do? what to do?

Hope your week has started off nicely and that if you are on the east coast of the US that you are safe through the oncoming storm.


  1. Nice job! Shirtwaists are a great staple for a wardrobe of ANY vintage. And all the design elements can be changed to suit you. I really should make one myself! lol


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