Hot! The “Agnes” Dress

The Facts

  • Fabric: striped navy cotton of some sort (free)
  • Pattern: McCall’s 4769 (stash)
  • Year: 2005
  • Notions: thread (stash), 8 buttons (stash)
  • Time to complete: Oh, let’s say 5 hours. I don’t know.
  • First worn: May 21, 2012
  • Wear again?: Yes
  • Total price: $0

I seem to be running a bit behind lately on challenges. I had planned this dress for the Mix It Up challenge, using contrasting fabric for the cuffs, collar, and a sash (light blue with white polka dots–I don’t have a lot of prints left in my stash) . But once I put the cuffs on the sleeves I just knew the final product would be something I would never wear. Stripes and polka dots? I’m simply too conservative. So instead I’m making this as a late Mother’s Day challenge. In fact, it was on Mother’s Day that I decided to change it up.

Simple print house dresses are found in many family photos from my mother’s side, her beloved grandmother, Agnes Duncan MacNeill, being the principle house dress wearer. There are so many photos of Agnes in a print house dress or shirt dress, but it is easy to pick my favorite:

Agnes is the one with the black purse and that’s my little mother wedged in between her and another large woman. The women on the outside are unknown to me, but I love the composition of this photo.

So this shirt dress is an homage to my great-grandmother, whom I never knew, but who my mother loved like a mother. And truly Agnes was more of a mother to her than my grandma was. Had I been born a boy, I would have carried on this woman’s maiden name as Andrew Duncan Foote. I may not have Agnes’ name today, but I think she would have liked this dress. Here I’m wearing it where I’ve been spending a lot of time working lately: the garden.


Erin Bartels

Erin is a copywriter by day, a novelist by night, and a wife, mother, dressmaker, quilter, zoo docent, painter, poet, and photographer in between. She only gets paid for the copywriting.


Comments are closed.

  1. Cute! I love a good house dress.

  2. It looks so lovely!! I love the bias placket – it adds a great finish :)

  3. Great dress! I love the bias touches – a bit subtler than polka dots, but still making a statement.

  4. Hey Erin, what a great story and the dress looks gorgeous among everything that is so green in the photos.

  5. Gorgeous, and I love that family photo!

  6. I love this dress Erin! It really shows off your great figure.