For the past few years, I have made a dress for my sister for Christmas or her birthday. Originally she told me she wanted a retro style dress, and together we found a shirt dress that we both liked: McCalls 6891. The first one I made was sleeveless, at her request. After that, I decided to experiment with sleeves. (Experiment meaning, I don’t really know how to set sleeves….) Because I took one sewing lesson about 20 years ago and the rest of my learning has been through internet reading, I find that I try to avoid sewing things that might seem difficult. I’ve gotten lucky a few times and had a sleeve just fit perfectly, but most of the time, it takes me a whole day. I am sure I am doing something wrong to make it so hard for myself, but I haven’t figured out what just yet. Regardless, I like this dress better with sleeves. I have made it four times now for my sister, using different fabrics (polka dots, retro cats..a personal favorite). Each time I make one, I try to make the dress look a little different and to jazz it up.
This year I found the Ring, Ring fabric in Navy and Green by Kim Kight of Cotton and Steel. I thought it would make a cute retro looking dress. As I mentioned, I wanted to try something different this year, so I added a solid border to the skirt. I also used a solid for the collar and for the cuff on the sleeve.
For the cuff, I actually found a tutorial online (which I can’t seem to find again to link…:-( Based on the tutorial, I just cut the contrasting fabric and then after doing a mock up in my head a bunch of times, sewed and cut out the notch! I have problems with spatial things, so I had to think about that for a long time, but it worked!
Isn’t she cute modelling the sleeve? The only problem was…I made one cuff and sewed it right onto the sleeve….but I hadn’t cut out the second cuff yet!! DOH!! I had to do the whole thing again. Why, oh why didn’t I cut them both at the same time you ask?? Well, I wasn’t sure the first one was going to work because I was making it up as I went along…then when it did…I was shocked! Doing the second cuff wasn’t too bad but I’m not 100% sure the notches are exactly the same. Good thing you can’t really tell when the dress is being worn.
The collar on this pattern always, always frustrates me. I think I got it to work perfectly one time so far. I don’t know if it’s the instructions or me (or both). I usually end up doing something on my own to make it lay flat and so far it has worked. At least my sister hasn’t told me otherwise, but maybe she’s holding back…
I sewed this on my Juki and it was so fun. Straight seams and a super fast machine? Zippity do dah!! I did have to switch back to my Brother for the button holes, and I am happy to say he did a great job. (In the past, he has been naughty about buttonholes…I actually avoided doing the buttons for a few days because I didn’t want to fight the Brother.) I found the buttons on clearance at JoAnns 🙂 Yay to savings.
In the end, I like this pattern (I guess so, since I’ve done it 4 times). Will there be another retro shirt dress in her future? Maybe, I am always looking for new patterns to try out for her, so who knows? This particular dress is my second favorite of the ones I’ve made (sorry, I don’t have a pic of the previous ones). I think it has a “Lucy Ricardo” feel to it and I like that!!