Let me tell you all about my new Sally Shirtdress!
The new-to-me challenge was a perfect one for me right now; after just finishing my first-ever shirtdress, I wanted to make another. I happily had picked up this new-to-me pattern at the Pattern Review Weekend pattern swap, and since I’ve never made anything by Serendipity Studio before, the Sally Shirtdress moved to the top of the queue.
I recently thrifted a fabulous cherry-print quilting cotton which I knew would be perfect for a retro style shirtdress. Thanks to the Monthly Stitch facebook page, I also had an overwhelming vote for red pin dot trim over white lattice 🙂 You’ll notice I followed the majority vote.
I also had some fantastic vintage buttons from a full shoebox of them – all still on their cards – that my sister sent me for Christmas this year (great thrifting score on her end!)
To suit the vintage styling, a photoshoot at The Stratford Antique Warehouse was calling my name- thanks to Tracy and her wonderful staff for letting me take pictures and for chatting about sewing with me.
And now for the pattern itself — I really enjoyed making this one. The Sally Shirtdress is an interesting design. It has four pieces: the collar, one long front and one long back, and the sleeve. Plus the trims, if you want to count those as extra pieces. It is sewn together and then fitted by adding pleats in at the waist – you make it as fitted as you want, and put the centre of the waist where you want it. There is a rather complicated mathematical calculation in the instructions that was a bit confusing, so I just used the measurement of the waist and then divided it evenly to space my 1″ pleats. It shapes it up nicely!
I slightly extended the pleats higher in the back to reduce puffiness in the upper back, but otherwise followed the pattern suggestions for size. Once the pleats are sewn, they are pressed flat along the centre and topstitched to keep them tidy. I’ve shown a photo of the insides, as they are completely invisible on the outside!
I cut the “above knee length” view with no shortening done other than a pinch out of the upper back length — I am 5″2 so be aware if you don’t like really short things but want to try this pattern. I also chose the trim that is a flat band. The pattern gives options for a ruffled band as well but I thought I had enough going on with all these cherries and dots.
The flaw in this pattern is that there are no pockets included. I added basic side seam pockets using a pattern piece from another dress, and placing them as usual with the hand opening 4″ below my natural waist. You’ll have your own perfect placement, so if you add pockets just measure a favourite pattern and place accordingly.
The other thing to be aware of is that the pattern assumes quite a bit of sewing knowledge. For example, you need to “make a bias strip” for the trim, and that’s all the instruction. Or, when setting in the sleeves, she tells you to pin in place, put the sleeve side down when sewing and just stretch and ease the the excess fabric in the armhole as you sew — no gathering stitches, just all freehand. And she adds, “if you have any tucks, unpick and just sew again”. It’s all rather freeform, and while I was a little suspicious of this technique, these are the first sleeves that I’ve ever set in perfectly smoothly on the first go. So there’s that.
I actually really enjoyed the way the pattern was designed. I like to figure things out as I go and learn new ways of doing things, and I did both with this pattern. It had a relaxed, freestyle feeling to it.
So if you are okay with a different approach to things and with looking things up as you go, you’ll like this pattern. It is a great silhouette, really fitted to the individual figure, and goes together quickly. I like it!