Polka-Dot Kalle Shirtdress

Polka-Dot Kalle Shirtdress

I love a good shirtdress. In fact, shirts and shirtdresses are what I’ve sewn the most in the past year or so. I have an assortment of shirtdress patterns in my library, but I still couldn’t pass up trying Closet Case Pattern’s Kalle shirt/shirtdress. Especially after seeing the version made up by True Bias! It looked so effortless and comfortable. Luckily, I’d have this polka-dotted shirting fabric in my stash waiting for the perfect pattern to shine.

 

 

I adore this dress. I wanted to wear it so badly, that I used the snaps in my stash rather than waiting to run to the shop for a set of buttons! It’s comfortable, breezy, and I still feel well put together when I wear it. It has versatility to be worn in the fall with tights, a belt, and sweater, or in the summer with sandals! Not to mention the other versions, the tunic to wear over leggings or the crop top for just about everything! And the neckline variations of the band collar, popover placket, or hidden placket. Speaking of which… there might be a band collar popover placket cropped shirt coming up soon.

I sewed up a size 10 with no changes to the fit of the pattern. The shape and fit of the sleeve/sleeve band is great. I know that some bloggers found the thigh curve to be too high, but I like it as drafted because it feels like it allows for leg movement.

Between my husband’s and my taste in clothing, I’ve become admittedly pretty good at a collar and button placket! The directions were written out well, and the sew-along was great with further clarification. I was pleasantly surprised when this pattern was still able to teach me something. One of the things that slows me down when sewing a collar is ensuring that the top stitching catches the under collar. I’d ensure this with hand sewing the seams together, which disrupts my sewing flow and slows me down. The Kalle directions recommend using iron-on hem tape or fabric glue to hold it in place, then top stitching. This worked like a charm! It was fast and clean, everything was held in place like I wanted it. I’ll definitely be using this technique again.

I have a popover placket shirt Kalle cut out and half sewn on my sewing table currently. I couldn’t even wait a month before starting another one! So expect to see that shortly.

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Summery Linen M6696

Summery Linen M6696

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Out of all of my dresses, my olive green M6696 has the most wear. It’s versatile to wear through multiple seasons, looks put together without being stuffy, and it’s super comfortable from the full skirt and pockets.

I wanted another version of it with a more breathable summer fabric. I found this beautiful textured black-and-white linen on Fabric.com, and bought enough of it to make myself this dress and my husband a shirt out of it. It is truly a lovely fabric, has a good weight, and takes to the iron very well.

I decided to add a full collar onto this one (my prior had only the collar band), and the collar feels a bit large. However, I’ll never wear it fully buttoned so this doesn’t bother me. It does make me wonder why the neckline is so large compared to the rest of the garment?

I’ve run into an issue with easing the pleats into the waist band on both my renditions of this dress. It makes me wonder if I traced my pattern pieces poorly, or if it was an error in the drafting. Considering other bloggers haven’t commented about this, I assume it’s a personal problem. I resolved this by adding a slight extra pleat over each of the side seams, where the extra fabric is easily concealed.

I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of this piece this summer. The linen is soft, breathable, and the fit allows for me to not feel like I’m drowning in the Iowa heat and humidity.

Miss Frizzle Costume

Miss Frizzle Costume

In this family, Halloween is a big deal. There’s always a big party and we stay up into the wee hours of the night drinking beer and chatting around a bon fire. Being in Minnesota, it’s generally pretty cold at night and I keep this in mind when choosing my costume for the year. This year, my husband and I decided to be TV scientists. I fulfilled my childhood dream of being a bad ass magical scientist, and he went with Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty.

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I had been planning out this costume for a long time, because a Miss Frizzle costume had been a dream of mine for years. When we settled on this for our costumes, I was pumped and went straight to looking for the perfect microbiology fabric. Alas, the best microbiology fabrics were on Spoonflower and that’s simply outside my budget. So I settled for this amazing geology themed fabric from Fabric.com.

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In order to fulfill my Miss Frizzle dreams, the pattern was heavily altered, with a base of McCalls 6696 changed to be a half shirt dress, hacked together with the sleeves from McCalls 6989. I added the sleeves by tracing the sleeve cap from the three quarter sleeve view of 6696, slicing it to be the two piece sleeve like 6989, then tracing the sleeve portion from 6989.

Using stills from the Magic School Bus TV show as reference, I saw that a feature of all of her wild dresses include the contrasting white collar, placket, and cuffs. For the placket, I went for a close second, by making it  a contrasting half shirt dress. I followed these instructions for converting it to a half shirt dress, which worked quite well. I selectively chose the sleeve pattern for 6989 because they included cuffs, so this was simple to do.

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I removed a total of 6″ from the skirt front and back due to the width of my fabric, and attached them with gathers rather than pleats as is used in the original 6696 pattern. The amount of extra fabric in the back was also reduced by 4 inches, though it could have used further adjustment as it still felt poofy.  In order to be able to carry my phone throughout the Halloween party, I added a pocket on the side without the zipper. I followed this tutorial on a Male Pattern Boldness’s method of attaching a collar, which worked absolutely beautifully. I had never used this method before, and frankly I’m glad I didn’t start with it because it makes me appreciate the ease and simplicity so much more.

All in all, I love the dress and am so happy that I fulfilled my scientist teacher dreams this Halloween!

Grey Twill Shirtdress

Grey Twill Shirtdress

So often when it comes to sewing, you dream up beautiful ideas of flouncy dresses that have no place in your normal, day-to-day life. And that’s fine! It’s fun to dream big and play dress up with your sewing machine once in a while. But there’s only so many pretty dresses you can make before they overwhelm your closet. I’ve been making more of an effort to make pieces that are versatile and good for daily wear in my wardrobe. For me, this means dress shirts and shirt dresses that can be layered throughout the year.

I made this garment as a test for shirt dress construction, as I have had no previous experience with it. This was made with the McCall’s 6885, which has one of the most dreadful photos on the front. I don’t know what they were thinking with the floral dress and matching hat! It looks awful. If they had featured the chambray illustration it would be much more appealing. I made the short sleeve variation, out of a fabric that has been in my stash for many years. I don’t remember why I had bought this fabric originally, but it’s a thick grey twill from the S.R. Harris fabric depot in Minnesota.

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I indicated all of the pattern markings using tailor’s tacks, which helped as the placket attachment can become quite a hassle. Reflecting back on this, I should have started with the Grainline’s Alder shirt dress as that pattern has much more clear instructions. Overall, the placket went on quite nicely. I had some issues with the collar stay being longer than the neckline/placket, likely due to imprecise sewing. I also used the straight hem variation rather than the curved hem, as I had read from other bloggers that the curve comes up quite high on the thigh.

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After completing the garment, I found that the shoulders and short sleeves felt tight. This, with the heaviness of the fabric, makes me feel super claustrophobic when I wear it and since it’s been completed, it’s never been worn. I can’t move my arms back or forwards without it pulling on the front or back and being uncomfortable. I believe that I may try a rescue operation on the dress, removing the short sleeves and finishing the armhole with bias binding. Into the UFO pile it goes… Next time, I’ll make it sleeveless and/or consider a lighter cotton or flannel eventually and maybe put a yoke in the back with some gathers underneath to allow for arm movement.

Despite being unwearable, I consider it a learning experience, which I was glad to have on a fabric that has been in my stash for ages!

Olive Sleeveless Shirtdress, or the Damn I Feel Good Dress

Olive Sleeveless Shirtdress, or the Damn I Feel Good Dress

DSC05020After having moved to Des Moines from the twin cities, I had the entire summer free and I knew that I would have to keep myself busy. So I started the summer with a goal in mind: make it through my enormous stash.

Granted, I have seen some other bloggers fabric stashes. Gigantic! As sewers, we often pick a pattern then go shopping for the fabric for it. So our fabric deals and impulse purchases sit in our cabinet, or cubbies, until we make a referendum that they have to go.

This olive polyester was one such fabric. It had been sitting in my stash unused for about 2-3 years. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, I was just uninspired. It has pretty good drape, and I was shying away from anything with a lot of precise sewing and detail. Until I realized that with the magic of spray starch, I could whip out a button up dress.

DSC05021For this dress, I used enigmatic McCall’s M6696. It’s a wonderful shirt dress pattern (with pockets!) that includes three sleeve and two skirt variations. This version is collarless, using the collar stand as a mandarin collar. I often gravitate towards this neckline in my day to day wear, so it felt right at home in my wardrobe. I used the guide provided by Grainline for the mandarin collar variation. I have some puckers at the very front of the collar stand, next to the edge of the dress, because I top stitched the collar stand prior to attaching it. Whoops! Thankfully it isn’t super obvious, but it’s one of those mistakes that only the maker would see. Next time I know to top stitch after it has been attached to the dress.

The skirt of this dress has a total of 24 pleats. Surprisingly, they’re not bad to do! My advice is to ensure that all markings are on the right side of the fabric to make the pleating easier. I first ironed the pleats down using the markings, then machine basted them in place, which worked out quite well. When I went to attach the skirt to the waistband, I ended up having a significant amount of excess fabric to ease into the waistband. The excess fabric was easily hidden behind the various pleats, so you can’t tell from the outside.

To finish the dress, I made quick work of the buttons by using my sewing machine’s automatic button holer and attaching the buttons with a zig zag stitch. I could also see this dress being done with snaps, which would be fun. I finished all of my seams with serging to prevent fraying from within. This makes it feel much more professional. I’ve always been interested in finishing seams with the Hong Kong finish (bias binding on the raw edges), and this would be a good pattern to test it out on in the future.

This is a pattern that I absolutely enjoyed making, and see myself making it again. I already have a plan to make my Ms. Frizzle costume for Halloween out of this pattern. So look forward to repeats of this bad boy!