Hot! A Shifty Shirt Dress | Veronica Darling


20110206-P1030423Fabric: Blue cotton lawn type stuff, vintage, with a thread of gold stuff through it. ~ $1
Pattern: Quick Butterick 6453, maybe $1
Year: circa 1970s
Notions: Vintage buttons (x5) and several pieces of thin black elastic, from the stash of hand me down haberdashery/notion items from my friend's Granny's Estate.
Time to complete: 3 hours
First worn: February 2011
Wear again? Don't think so

Total Cost: ~$2

I have a large stash of fabric and vintage patterns, and I think I made this week's theme harder for myself when I became determined to use stash that I've had for a REALLY long time. I actually can't remember getting the Butterick pattern, so it must be an old acquisition (as these days I really ponder if I *need* another pattern for the stash before I purchase), but as for the cotton 'disco' fabric, it's probably one of the earliest larger pieces of fabric in my stash. It's from one of the many op shops in my hometown in the country, and possibly was not even $1 for the lot. I have made a spaghetti strap bias cut top about 5 years ago, but I ended up giving that away, since it didn't really suit me.

Anyways! Good points first: The collar is sweet and sharp. The dress LOOKS much better than it feels on (I'll get to the bad points as to how it feels) and the colours look nice in the dark weather (stormy wintery time here in Melbourne's summer!). It had a lot of pattern pieces, like ties and casings, but once I started it came about really quickly and was a great pattern to follow.

Bad points now, and why there's something 'shifty' about this shirt dress: The fabric I chose is WEIRD, it's too floaty and too airey. The skirt is the wrong kind of cut for it, and there's not enough material in it to hold it down or make it swing. It *may* be because I have to wear a slip with it (it's sort of see through) and wearing tights (because it's so cold here) also makes the blue fabric just collect up around my legs & knees and it feels wrong. Overall, even though I resized the pattern slightly, it's just not my size nor really my shape.


As I'm a little bundle of joy (4 foot 11), I probably should stick to the silhouettes that suit, but I've never made a shirt dress and the pattern made it look so casual and fun. It's really bunchy around the back as well, which makes me think I need a more tailored shirt dress anyways, so stay tuned! 


Even though it's not for me, the pattern has some darling little details that were surprisingly easy to sew up, so it looks more daring and adventurous that it actually is! (Slipping elastic through casing = EASY!) So it's certainly a pattern to try out!

My biggest worry is that I'm hoarding fabric and patterns, that just aren't my style. OR maybe I just can't match the fabric with a pattern under pressure? I'm so glad this isn't Project Runway!


Veronica Darling

Veronica Darling has been sewing well for about 4 years, blogging for 5 years and smiling for over 33 years. In 2011, she joined Mena's Sew Weekly in sewing through the year, and in 2012 will keep challenges slightly smaller in scale.


Comments are closed.

  1. It certainly looks cute! But if you really don’t like it, I’d say cut into into a tunic and wear it with jeans.

  2. You have matched the lines up beautifully and if you don’t like it as a dress, it definitely would make a great shirt. First rate collar.

  3. Although you don’t see yourself wearing it again, I think it looks cute on you! Maybe cutting it into a shirt? Your sewing is beautiful and I commend your ability to match up all of those lines.

  4. Aww, too bad you didn’t like it! It looks very well-made to me, especially that collar. Those are so hard to get just right! I agree that it does look a bit oversized for you. But the more I look at this pattern, the more it looks very late 70s to me, into the early 80s. And 80s = oversized. So it’s a shirtdress, but a loose drapey one, not a tailored one. You’ll look amazing in a more tailored shirtdress!

  5. I think it’s cute and it has great potential to be a shirt or a tunic. As Mena mentioned you could wear it with jeans or I’d pair it with a pair of capris or a pencil skirt.

  6. The fabric collecting around your knees might be because it is polyester and tends to accumulate static charge. I have off the rack skirts that do that, and it is very uncomfortable. Some bemberg used as an underlining would solve that, but that would defeat the purpose of using cheap stash materials. Anywho, it certainly photographs well, and I think your fabric-pattern matching eye is great!

  7. I really like it! The shoulder details are so wonderful! I agree with others that it might be more comfortable to wear as a shirt! I think you look fabulous in it and I really like the gold in the fabric–though I can imagine it is a bit more uncomfortable to wear because of the fabric qualities (is it scratchy?)
    p.s. LOVE the hair! Did you do pincurls?

  8. Love this. The gold thread squares are awesome – so unusual.

  9. It’s beautiful! That fabric, although perhaps not ideal for this particular cut, or possibly in need of lining or underlining, is really unique and lovely.
    As you’re so petite, the bunching in the back may mean that you just need to shorten the dress through the bodice by an inch or so. I have to do this to all of my dress patterns, and I’m on the tall end of petite!
    This pattern would look and probably feel wonderful in a rayon challis!

  10. I love this dress and the fabric. Great.

  11. That is lovely Veronica! It looks really cute! Also, glad to know another “shorty” – small peeps represent!

  12. The dress is great and I love the fabric. It looks adorable on you!

  13. Hmmm, good idea! It might mean I have peplum (around the hips?) though, but that could suit me perhaps?

  14. YAY! I love the collar too! Thanks Jen!

  15. Thank you Elizabeth, the matching of the lines was accidental, how amazing that they work out like that!?

  16. Thank you! I’m so going to try a fitted shirt dress next! I sometimes thing I look like Heidi Klum, so forget that baggy and drapey doesn’t really suit the petite reality.

  17. I like the idea of capris (like Ginger from Gilligan’s Island perhaps?) – thanks!

  18. I just googled ‘rayon challis’ and I think I know what you mean! Man! I wish I knew my fabrics a little better!
    Unfortunately, I did shorten (horizontally) an inch in the bodice pieces, and ‘shave’ off some of the shoulder seam as well but maybe I needed to vertically resize it?
    Thanks for your advice though! I love Sew Weekly for this community!

  19. The fabric is kinda light scratchy, Debi, but more unruly and floaty. It doesn’t hang well. (!)
    I do pincurls once a week, and I had only just taken out the pins before the photo! YAY!

  20. Love that dress as it is! Maybe it’s the fabric or colors, but I love it and sewing it in three hours is all an extra point!!

  21. I love that fabric! Shirt dresses are the best.

  22. You look so tall in your photos!!!

  23. It’s a really great pattern Rosy, just watch out for the sizing, it’s a little big (in my case) than it says!

  24. You have made my week!! Also, it’s probably because I keep standing on tall stuff or next to short stuff – I will keep doing this so I can keep the illusion going! :o)