Sunday, April 24, 2016

Denim shirtdress Simplicity 8014 and some other news

Do you ever see a new pattern and have to have it? I mean like, a duplicate of the pattern envelope version? Sometimes that happens to me and I'll bet I am not the only one. So when I saw Simplicity 8014 with the denim shirtdress pictured there I wanted to make it immediately. I will say that my version is less successful than theirs - partly due to my choices and partly due to the fact that I am not a tall and slim model with fabulous hair. But I have created a very wearable and sharp looking denim shirtdress that I think will be great for spring/summer/fall wearing.

Returning to the title of this post - in other news: I will be teaching some sewing classes at Sips N Sews Sewing Studio in San Francisco starting in May. I know they are currently working on their website and calendar entries so everything is not listed yet, I will post here when all the info is listed. Sips N Sews is a subscription based sewing studio  - I went there in September for a Bay Area Sewists Meetup and I was so amazed by the space. It is a typical San Francisco storefront entrance, but past the doorway lies a huge workroom with every kind of sewing machine, cutting tables, a classroom space and even sewing supplies to use. Classes are open to both their membership and non-members. On Sunday May 22, I will be teaching a day long seminar titled: Sew a Summer Shift Dress. (Say that 3 times fast, ha)  Anyway - stay tuned for more info and email me directly if you want more details.

OK - back to denim. Remember a couple of posts ago I said "when in doubt sew denim." Maybe that doesn't apply to everyone but it certainly applies to me. I always have a good feeling about things sewn from denim. Perhaps because I am a child of the 60's - 70's when denim began its utter dominance of all things fashion  - or perhaps it is my native San Francisco roots where Levi's were born - but I think denim can be sewn into anything from casual playwear to tailored garments to a formal gown. (some of you might disagree on that one).

I had a piece of denim that was a remainder from another project, so not really ideal for a dress but in Project Runway fashion I made it work.

side view on me denim dress

It looks a bit rumply here - but I don't notice that in real life. Some things just look better in person than in photographs.

denim dress front on form

Sadly for me I think it looks better on the dress form than when I am wearing it. Although here it photographed in the absolutely unwrinkled state - unnatural really. After all we look at magazines and catalogs and want to appear as the people do there - which is impossible since they are pinned, tucked and Photoshopped into smooth and unwrinkled perfection.

Back to sewing details. As I mentioned, the fabric piece was a remnant and barely enough to eke out a dress. So no to the chest pockets, short sleeves and sadly, no to the self-fabric belt. Which is a bit of a shame as I think it would have looked better. Although I did rummage around my belt rack and came up with this one which I have had for maybe 25 years? And this belt has a little purse that has small hooks which clip into some eyelets in the belt, so kind of an upscale fanny-pack item. And which I have rarely used. Although now in the "carry our phone everywhere" era it might be time to put that accessory back into use.

This is the piece of fabric. 60" wide but only about a yard of real yardage where the tape measure is plus some more. This is really lightweight denim - more like a chambray weight but the color is a deep blue.

denim fabric on floor

Pattern envelope. I love the shirt tail hem on the dress. What I do not love is the back. Which in this version that I sewed has a gathered center at the back yoke and then no shaping.

Simplicity 8014 denim dress pattern envelope

So the back is not my favorite on this dress. And if I were to make it again I would change a lot.  See, too much fabric there. And too long in the back. I did do a tuck on the pattern piece taking out about and inch of length but I could have removed a lot more. Since the hem is level the extra length is all above the waist, and the excess fabric at the center back is not helping. After I finished I thought about cutting the back in half - creating a seam, removing some of the excess through waist darts but in the end told myself to get a grip - it is just a shirtdress and wear the belt, blouse it a bit and be done with it :)

back view on me

Also without a belt I think it looks ridiculous. Or else I am just not used to things that don't have a waist. Do you watch Call the Midwife? I like most any of the PBS/BBC shows that are set in another era - partly because the costuming is so interesting. So this dress reminds me of something they would wear as a very utilitarian work dress. Just need the red cardigan and the hat. (and a lower hemline).

denim dress no belt

A couple of fitting adjustments. The aforementioned back length adjustment.  Also I lowered the bust dart by an inch.

Note this is a bit of a trap for new stitchers. This pattern, and many shirt patterns have a dropped front shoulder seam. So you have to pin the back body and yoke together, then pin at the shoulder seam and drape it over your body to accurately see where the bust dart lands. Note that the measuring tape is starting at the actual top of the shoulder, not at the seam which is lower in front than the shoulder point.

measure dart pointnew dart placement

This is a pretty easy adjustment, I just traced the dart shape on tracing paper, and then moved it down. Alternatively you could cut out the dart and move it also.

Back view on form, see how much gathering there is in the center back. And a few stray white threads marking the waist, where I was contemplating putting a channel elastic, although I tossed that idea.

dress on form back no belt

I have finally gotten the buttonhole attachment on my newish Singer machine to work properly. Although I will never like it as much as the old vintage version. Which I use sparingly now as it is on its last legs due to dropping it and also cobbling together some parts. I found these buttons in my button box - which is a old cookie tin holding all the buttons that people have given me. Filled with mostly useless but a surprising number of good choices.

denim dress close up top

My last challenge with this dress and the reason I remembered that this fabric was not previously used for something is that it might have been at the end of a bolt and I bought the whole piece which was available. But didn't use this portion as it had a whole lot of writing on the inside, done with some type of indelible gold marker pen, see below.  I have rolled it up so you can see the inside of the fabric but also that it showed through to the right side of the fabric in some places. eek!

marks on denim

So with some extremely judicious cutting I was able to avoid it almost everywhere but I had to use that portion of the fabric. So the collar stand, both inside and out were cut from the portion of the fabric with that gold writing on it. That seemed the most inconspicuous place to put it and I am sure no one will ever notice. For the inside yoke I used some black cotton batiste.

denim collar stand

Well that is all for this dress, despite my criticisms and the fabric challenge I think it is an OK result. A dress like this needs accessories, so when I wear it I will dig around for an interesting bag and perhaps some colorful shoes.

denim dress on me front with belt

Up next, more sewing with fabric from My Fabric Designs, and another new silhouette. Thanks for all the nice comments on my last post - for that Burda top. It is appealing to me more and I am wearing it today :) with red jeans.

Gardenwise this is the month to enjoy - lots of colorful blooms and not much work. Plus tomatoes planted! Hurry up home grown tomatoes. ( no hurrying, they will be here starting in late July no matter how much we wish them to be ripe).

Happy Sewing and if you are in the SF bay area I hope to see you at a sewing class.


For today's garden photo - how about that luscious rose that is visible behind my left shoulder?  I think it is called Cherry Parfait - but not 100% on that. Anyway it is such a great color. and the shade of my latest sewing project!

April flowers


  1. I love that pattern, too! (Personally, I like the version with the waistline and flared hem.) But I think it looks great on you, even with the slightly puffy back. I think if you did a ribbon or fabric belt, and tied it a bit loosely, that might help. But really, it's a great dress!

  2. I really,really like your version. I understand your challenges & agree maybe more could be taken out of the back. But you did such a great job on this . Denim can go anywhere 😘
    I love the leather belt as I'm not a fan of self ties .

  3. I really like this! I have several cuts of denim that I want to use to make a couple of dresses so I've been looking at everyone's denim versions to see what I can emulate. Thanks for all of the helpful fitting tips!

  4. This dress is on my sewing list and so it was useful to see your review. Great tip on the shoulder seam position. Anyway I think it looks great. Mccalls 6696 which I have sewn twice also has the puffiness, some of which I removed but there is still some there. I don't know how comfortable it would be without? Anyway all in all I think it looks like a cute versatile dress that you will wear loads.

  5. I think the dress looks better on you than on the dressform. It is a great dress, and I don't find any fault with it at all. I am a child of the 60's and 70's too, so the denim and the belt look perfect to me.

  6. Looks great! Funnily enough I made a denim shirtdress, very similar recently and also eeked it out of a remnant. ... I even posted a pic of the pen on the underside of the fabric !!

  7. I really like this without the belt - looks great on you, and the back is very nice. Hangs well!

  8. I really like this dress - but then I like everything you make. If I was anywhere near San Francisco I would be the first to sign up for your class (unfortunately I'm on the other side of the globe staring Winter-to-be in the face) sigh.

  9. Looks lovely, even with the back excess. Now I want to sew a denim dress! I definitely often want the exact replica - probably why I keep buying craftsy pattern + fabric kits...

  10. Well, I have this exact pattern with the cut of dark denim in my pile of things to do in the next month so your review is extremely timely! I think it's cute and looks great on you!

  11. Good job! And your garden is dreamy.

  12. I have some denim reserved for that exact same style of dress, but sleeveless! I think I'm going to add a waist tie, too, as I can't be bothered with belts.

  13. Wish I could attend that class!

  14. You can't beat denim and the rose is gorgeous too! Belted the dress looks great and I prefer it on you to the dress form.

  15. I think your version looks great, and I actually prefer the leather belt.

  16. I am in the minority because I like the dress much better without the belt.

  17. Groovy baby! And your garden is looking great too.

  18. I think this is a great, classic dress. I really like denim with tan leather so I am a fan of the belt with it!

  19. Totally inspired by your version Beth I have started cutting mine out but question: pattern has you just fold the fabric over instead of actual interfacing: did you do this or interface? Thanks.

    1. For the front button bands I mean!

  20. I want to make this dress too. Beautiful rose!!!

  21. That's a beautiful dress! I've been checking out similar looks myself. From the photo I think with or without the belt it looks great. It's just different looks....
    I bought some fabric that had writing on it and faced the same issue having to use it, but it washed out. So maybe yours will too

  22. I love the dress with the belt; the back really looks good. Excited to see the next post with your self-designed fabric! Congratulations on the teaching gig! That sounds like an awesome place!!

  23. I love this! It's beautiful!