Monday, 22 April 2013

Seeing Spots

50's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress

Last weekend I finally had time to finish this dress. Turned out OK, didn't it? It's made out of cotton and has two large pockets hidden in the side seams. Very practical, sweet and low-maintenance. 
Just like me...yeah right!

Anyway, I had decided I needed a pretty dress to wear around the house, something I won't mind getting dirty, something I could just throw in the washing machine. So vintage was out of the question for a start. I bought this late 50's/early 60's Finnish shirt dress pattern about six months ago and the fabric was also in my stash.

50's 60's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress

I decided to make a few modifications to the pattern though. First, I wasn't sure I liked those fake pocket flaps in the front and they would mean more ironing too. So they had to go. Secondly, since the fabric has small polka dots, there wouldn't be any sense in having a panel of it the other way around at the bottom. This meant that the skirt would be made out of a solid piece of fabric.

50's 60's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress
The pattern pieces laid out. Note the blatant disregard for fabric economy.

Sewing the bodice pieces together was pretty straightforward, apart from the sleeves. Again. I always struggle with setting in the sleeves. How on earth it is possible to fit such an unbelievable amount of fabric on to a seemingly shorter, curved piece of fabric? And I don't want to use those bits of yarn meant to pull the sleeve fabric together. 

50's 60's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress

All the seamstresses reading this will be facepalming them selves right now. But to cut a long story short, I managed to get the sleeves on after only two tries. Just one wrinkle left on the seam. It's not perfect, but hey, they're on, right!?

50's 60's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress

Next on the list were the buttons. Red? White? Green? I couldn't decide. Then I remembered this black shirt dress that I particularly liked with covered buttons. Problem solved! Covered buttons would definitely match and give the dress a more "professional" look. Also, I have never tried making covered buttons before, so this was an opportunity to give it a go.

50's 60's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress Immonen
1960's shirt dress by Riitta Immonen Sport
I ordered my button making kit from Nappikauppa Punahilkka. The buttons came with a "tool". I found the word a bit funny since the "tool" is basically just two bits of round plastic that fit together.

50's 60's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress self covered button kit
The "tool" and a finished button

50's 60's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress

After adding the buttons and the button holes the bodice was finished. Now for the skirt. Looking at the black shirt dress I remembered another reason I liked it so much: the pockets. Big, practical pockets. I like having pockets in dresses. You don't  have to faff about with a handbag, you can just pop your keys, change, condoms, etc. in your pocket and be on your way.

I used the pockets of the black dress as a pattern.

50's 60's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress pocket

I decided to pleat the skirt for a neater look. I used a cardboard template to make the pleats even.

50's 60's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress pleats

After the pleating was done, it was only a question of sewing the pocket pouches, then the front and the back of the skirt together and the skirt to the bodice. Then a zipper, a bit of hemming and voilá, a shirt dress was born.

50's 60's vintage pattern shirtwaist dress

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