Friday, November 10, 2017

A Shirt and a Shirtdress, Butterick 6333 in paisley cotton poplin

Which came first, the shirt or the shirtdress? In fact the fabric came first, and the idea for the shirt, but then I took a detour to sew this shirtdress.

B6333 green shirtdress close up front neckline

Which is Butterick 6333, a shoulder princess seamed shirt dress pattern with two skirt options.
A really good basic pattern, that I made a little more difficult for myself with some fitting adjustments  that overshot the mark, as well as adding a waistband and zipper. WHAT? a zipper? yep, read on for details.

B6333 pattern env

This is a dress I made for my friend Heather. She has been wanting a shirtdress for a while and we figured it was time to sew up a lightweight cotton one for late summer/fall. I've made a shirtdress style for her previously (probably not blogged) by copying an existing dress she had but for this one we wanted the traditional shirt styling with collar, stand, button band etc. However - and this is a big however, she likes to have a waistband to emphasize the waist, and this pattern didn't have that feature. So I improvised and the waistband you see is actually an applied piece. I sewed the dress as is, but added the waistband overlay on the outside of the bodice front and back, and that worked really well, plus let me do the fitting on the side seams. You know my aversion to sewing the skirt onto the top of a dress in one move, I always do the front, and then the back and sew the side seams near the end.

The second thing that she wanted was not to have the skirt actually unbutton. I can see for wearing that buttons are just a pain, they gape when you sit down and get ruined at the cleaners.

B6333 shirtdress front with text

So I sewed the dress as normal, including the buttonholes all the way down the front of the dress. But from the waistband down to about 5 inches above the hem the dress is stitched closed. The topstitching on the button bands allowed me to overlay them as if they were buttoned and then stitch on either edge of the band. You can't even tell that it is sewn shut but no chance of any wardrobe or button malfunction. I sewed the buttons on in that portion right over the buttonholes (which I didn't slice open, no need). But of course what does this rearrangement require - our old friend the side seam zipper. Which means the dress has to fit at the waist just right, and then the zipper is put in next to last. (the sewing the front shut is actually the last). Well hemming is actually the last.

Dress form view. I did cause myself a bit more work as she has gone down a few inches and so I adjusted the pattern and then had to revise after I cut it out. But thankfully those shoulder princess seams allow for plenty of adjustment.

B6333 green shirtdress on form front

Cute huh? I love this fabric so much. Which is why it made it back with me last November when I shopped at Mood Fabrics.

Mood purchases 2

Heather and I were searching for a stretch cotton in a print, maybe a sateen or a poplin that would work for a shirtdress, and I remembered that I had this fabric from Mood. So I checked on their website and it was still available. They have it still (in 3 color ways) although it says this green/navy is almost sold out. (search stretch cotton poplin).  Soon I plan to use that cotton shirting in the bottom of the photo for another shirt, it goes with so many things in my wardrobe.

Back to fact that I originally bought this cotton for a shirt for me. And here it is, using what else? My trusty Simplicity 2339 shirt pattern. At this point the pattern pieces are getting a bit raggedy, I guess it's time to copy them over onto sturdier paper (maybe 14 versions?)

Green paisley shirt front view

Nothing much to say about this version other than I love the fabric and can wear this with so many things I have.

For every version I have made in the last couple of years I do the front placket as a continuous piece that gets folded and sewn into a small pleat. I was all set to show how I do it but a search through my old blog posts shows that I already did that :)  Here is the link to how to make this type of shirt front placket.

Which you can see a little better in this picture.

Green shirt inside placket front

 The sleeves extra long on this version as I like to wear shirts under sweaters when the weather is colder and flip up the cuffs for a little extra peek at the shirt.  Tower plackets on the cuff opening which are hard to see in this busy fabric.

green paisley shirt cuff

Sewing a button front shirt has turned out to be one of our most popular classes at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley where I teach. The next button front shirt class starts Jan 13 as well as some other new classes, including some shorter mini-classes covered one type of techniques. Last week was my first mini class on zippers, and we will be adding more to the 2018 schedule. (including things like buttonholes, welt pockets, facings, linings, popular pattern hacks etc) I'll post when they are available for registration. I think Stacey is in the process of adding them to the website now.

This shirt is a bit longer than other versions, and I changed the shape of the side seam hem edge curve.

green paisley shirt on me

That's it for the paisley fabric from Mood. I have a few good size chunks leftover which might get combined with other retainers and turn into a sleeveless top next summer. But for now they go in the scrap box.

Up next, I have a long list of stuff that is either started or on the proverbial drawing board, including some jeans, a custom dress form, and an assortment of knit tops.

Can you believe Thanksgiving is around the corner - it sounds so trite to say it but this year is flying by. Only 8 more months until summer!

Happy fall sewing, Beth

for today's garden photo, some roses that bloomed back in July. This is one of the oldest rose bushes in my garden, way predates me and despite being in a shady spot puts out these lovely pink blooms. 
So many thorns though - and I've snagged my shirt on it numerous times trying to wriggle past to prune one of it's neighbors. I've planted a number of newer roses in the past few years but these older ones are worth keeping, which they bloom well they are showstoppers. 



  1. I really want to sew a floral shirt with striped cuffs and interior collar stand (and maybe under collar too!). Next spring perhaps.

    It was 12 degrees when I left for work today. I pulled out the down coat! But by evening, it was a little warm in the 25 degree weather. Hahaha. Us Northerners!

    I really like the shirtdress and how clever to use a side zipper so as to not disrupt the lines.

    Oh! I wanted to say, my entire reason for wanting to learn to sew was to make button front shirts! I think it's something lots of ladies struggle with because there's so much nuance to a good fit and how can RTW get it right for everyone? They can't. I am always on the lookout for good cotton for new shirts.

  2. Lovely shirt & dress: beautiful, creative job.

    You might try ironing light-weight fusible interfacing onto the back of your tattered pattern pieces. That would save the tracing work.

  3. I have a whole bunch of button down shirts planned for this fall/winter because they go under cardigans and long sweater coats so now that I've hacked together a pattern that I like, I feel like I can have any one I want. So I understand why that's such a popular class.

    I love both the shirt and the shirtdress and of course the fabric is perfect!

  4. Beautiful!! That's a really good idea adding a zipper and sewing down the buttons below the waist. I do find that that style of shirtdress can have the propensity to open when you're sitting down.

  5. Love your shirt! It looks great on you. Cotton poplin is so easy to work with and a great fabric for a shirt.

  6. I am also on a roll sewing shirts. I have long arms and I HATE "short" long sleeves. I was trying out a new way to do French seams that I saw in a video by Kenneth D. King on the Threads website, and somehow (HOW do these things happen???) I surged into one of the armholes on the front about 2". AAAGH! But I have an idea for a fix....I'm going to attach a front shield (honestly, I can't find a real description of this...I used V1414 for the idea) which will cover it up. I am morphing that pattern which I have made before and I love the fit, with another pattern that has a real collar and attached front bands. I love a nice shirt!

  7. I love what you created with the paisley fabric from Mood! It is such a lovely print, and you used it in a great way.

  8. Very nice shirt dress and shirt!

  9. beautiful work. I would love to know how you apply the collar with such precision!

  10. What a gorgeous fabric! The shirt looks stunning on you. Thank you for the details.

  11. Beautiful blouse and of course your workmanship is perfection. It's nice when we know what looks good on us and you do. Shoulder princes are my favorite, aside from being flattering, they make it so easy to fine tune the fit.

  12. Both gorgeous pieces! I look forward to your thoughts on the custom dress form, is it the Bootstrap one?

  13. I love your blouse! I am so impressed with the side seam zip and I love the fabric.

  14. Beautiful garments! I find it a very good idea to make the skirt buttons non-functional and insert a side zipper!