Monday, April 20, 2020

Two New Maxi Shirtdresses

Now I know most people sew with different patterns and that's part of the sewing adventure for them...but me I like TNT patterns where I hack the heck out of them to make the garments I see in my head...or enjoy wearing.

Due to the Corvid-19 quarantine, I'm finding that I want to sew specific garments that will serve me now and later when I venture back into the world.  Unlike most, I'm happiest in a skirt or a dress at home. I'm honestly not a jeans woman. So I've been riffing on my maxi shirtdress while quarantined.

The basis of my maxi shirtdress is the Deer & Doe Myosotis dress pattern. I've changed the following things on the pattern:

1. I added a collar and widen it after using it several times.
2. I lengthened to maxi length using only one tier.
3. The skirt pattern is no longer used to make the bottom of the dress. I now use the width of the fabric twice and a length of 28" for a short dress and 43-44" for a maxi dress.
4. After being inspired by another sewist, I've added a button front to the skirt of the dress.  Allowing it to be buttoned and unbuttoned instead of being slipped over my head.
5. Sleeves - I've made short sleeve, sleeveless, elbow length and long sleeved versions

...and for this first version I've added a ruffle to the hem because I cut it too short!

The Striped Ruffled Hem Maxi Shirtdress ~

Supplies Used ~
- I used a cotton shirting purchased from Fabric Mart last summer during the June Carriage Corner Sew Camp.
- 12 - 7/8" Mother of Pearl shank buttons from the button collection - these are from when I worked at the button company in the 1990s.
- Interfacing from Steinlauf and Stoeller

The main construction change is that bottom ruffle. I also omitted the topstitching on the bodice because I didn't want to mess with how the stripes ran. 

For the bottom ruffle: 
- I cut 3.5 lengths - 4" wide and the width of the fabric. 
- Sewed all of the lengths together and pressed it in half. 
- Then I gathered it to the bottom of the skirt's hemline making sure to match the fold over portion of the button band. 

That's it - easy peasy, well except for the time it took to gather the thing! *LOL*

Some pictures of the finished dress ~

"The Wolf In Sheep's Clothing Dress" ~

I named it after sending an email to a friend and her response was the dress was too sweet for me.  Seriously, she said "too sweet for my sassy personality."  Dayum, I just thought it was a pretty spring dress! But the name stuck in my head and I was determined to call it this in recognition of her comments! *LOL*

I shared a picture of this dress in a previous post.  The fabric was purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics and the 10 5/8" floral buttons are a recent purchase from Pacific Trimmings.  The white linen used on the collar, under collar, front facings and sleeve cuffs are a remnant from the fabric collection. 

As an aside, I'm so thrilled that I've collected and stored all of these bits and bobs over the years. I'm putting some covered buttons on an upcoming dress and while I had no buttons in the collection that worked with the fabric, it was wonderful to head to my covered button stash and pick some to use with the coordinating fabric. All of this collecting has really worked out during #sewstayhome.

Some Construction Details ~

The sleeve cuff - 
o  I cut a 4" band the width of the sleeve 
I sewed the side seam of the band, pressed the seam open, then pressed the band in half
o  Used a 1/2" seam allowance to attach it to the wrong side of the sleeve
o  The first band went on no problem - the second one took three tries to get it on!
o  Pressed the seam open and flat then pressed it up. I haven't tacked it down at the side seam yet waiting to see how it wears.

Front Facings -
I've made several of these maxi shirtdresses using a button front opening. Previously, I lapped over the skirt's button front twice, stitched down and then attached the skirt to the top.  However, I kept getting this bump in the center front that I hated.

For this one, an additional 1/2" was added to the front facing to give it a little more width. Then I only lapped the skirt facing over once to match the width of the bodice front facing. The top and skirt were stitched together matching the facing fronts and side seams... bump. Otherwise, everything else is the same in the construction of this dress. Although it has a very small hem. I wanted as much length in the skirt because it was cut short due to lack of fabric. I guess I really do need 4 yards to make one. If I had omitted the sleeves, I would have had the additional length. However, I chose to have the short cuffed sleeves.

A Few Pictures ~

These are the first two in a series of five. The next two are already finished and the fifth one is almost complete. These dresses are about comfort and I'm all about that right now! always more later!


  1. That little ruffle on the striped dress is awesome! Very happy accident :)

  2. Replies
    1. hmmmmm Miss Carol...especially since you have something to do with the name of the dress!

  3. Love your Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing dress! Beautiful fabric. Great dresses and you look so great in them.

  4. I found your blog in the feed after I subscribed to BlogLovin thinking I would get information on quilts. I was blessed to read and see your blog because I am a plus sized woman but I have not really made any clothes for myself in so long. I am inspired to see the dresses you post, and I also am so appreciative that you share your resources and other links to the Curvy Collective and patterns I did not know existed. The internet is truly an amazing place to connect with people all over the world who enjoy sewing. PS I learned to sew the summer of my sixth grade year at the local Singer Sewing Machine store in the classes designed for youth. One of the wonderful investments my Mother made in me. Thank so much for sharing your passion with us.

  5. Great dresses. You're inspiring me to try them too. Thank you.

  6. I'm totally with you on sewing TNT patterns during this crisis. I just can't deal with the stress of making up a new pattern. So please keep sewing what brings you a bit of joy and keep posting for the sewing community to enjoy. Karen

  7. These are beautiful and now I just want to make dresses instead of the dozen shirts I have cut and ready to sew.

  8. I love both of the dresses! The ruffled hem on the long one just adds a perfect finish and the crisp white collar on the short one makes it look modern.

  9. So fun. I really love the contrasting white bands on the floral version. I'm always down for stripe play so REALLY love that one!

    Like you, I am so glad to have a healthy stash. I have had no shortage of sewing projects to occupy my free time.

  10. I'm SO enjoying your blog! We only have a big box fabric store here and it seldom has fabrics I'd care to use in clothing. I saw that you've used Fabric Mart. Can you suggest other online fabric stores, please? (I wish there was a "search" function on blogs, so I wouldn't have to bother the author with questions like this one!). Please, and thank you!

    1. Curious Daylily - I would google "online fabric stores usa" and work through the list. There are also blog posts by a variety of sewists that come up under that search. There are quite a few online fabric stores now and everyone has personal preferences. This would allow you to look at several sites and determine if they're carrying the fabrics you like.

      I give a supply list of what I used on my makes, so people know where I've purchased goods and if they're still available and can purchase too.

  11. I have been enjoying your blog since I got hooked up with BlogLovin. Besides Pacific Trimmings do you have any other favorite places to get trims? I live in a little town in the wilds of upper Wisconsin (yes, we have electricity and running water!!) but not a lot of choices for sewing supplies. Thank you for your help.

    1. JeanGB - since I work in the garment district in NYC, I don't buy a lot of notions online so I have no recommendations. However, I'm sure google would come up with some and you could also try eBay and Etsy.

  12. Those are both adorable! I love the stripes going horizontally on the bodice of the maxi and that second fabric is beautiful! You always make such beautiful things.

  13. Your dresses are terrific and you look so relaxed in them too. Your clothes from a decade ago, your city suits, were also terrific looked so relaxed in them! Confident in both too. To observe the change over time is inspiring, especially as we are all required to change, sometimes over a short time, and other times we have the luxury of taking our time to adapt. I do like more flowers in your palette, and it seems to me that is a new choice, or am I wrong?

    1. R- I noticed that more florals have shown up in my wardrobe lately too! It is a conscious choice because I really like florals and vivid prints. Y'know besides any border print, LOL! I think I've finally shook off the last of the corporate indoctrination! ;)

  14. I love your dresses! The Wolf in Sheep's clothing - Don't quite follow your description of what you did for the facing. Not sure I need to know because I'm not planning on making any dresses that button all the way down the front. Wish I could be an apprentice in your sewing cave to see how you do all these fabulous clothes!
    Working from home leaves me feeling drained, so it was really nice to get my sewjo juices flowing over the weekend. Haven't done any serious sewing (only mending) in ages and your blog is one of the highlights of the week. Every time. So, over the weekend we made between 15 and 20 masks. It took a while to figure out exactly what worked for us to make and wear. Had forgotten how much I love the planning, figuring out how to make it better, and choosing fabrics. Thank you so much for your fabulousness! Hugs, Lorrie

  15. Both dresses look great!! The ruffle on the first one is a wonderful detail.

  16. I love both of your dresses! I wish I could make some for myself that look as good as the ones you make. I can make all sorts of "this and that's", but when I try clothing I just have problems with it. I love your dresses though, and really like the style of them too, so I just might have to try again and see if I can make something similar. Beautiful dresses and you look great in them!

  17. You had me at linen remnant.


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