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Arty Shirt Dress

For this month’s Minerva Make, I went for an uncharacteristically bold print! I like to think of it as my “art teacher” dress. 

The fabric I chose is a geometric print Cotton Lawn Fabric. I tried to make the colors as true as possible in my photos, but it’s also difficult with red. When it arrived in the mail, I was actually a bit surprised that is wasn’t brighter. The entire time I was making the dress, I was worried that I had made a big mistake. But once everything came together, I actually quite liked the dress and have already received several compliments. In France, women don’t give as many compliments as in the US, so this really boosted my sewing confidence!

The pattern I used was the Sarah Shirt Pattern by By Hand London. Despite being a long time BHL fan, this is actually the first time I used one of their patterns. It’s probably one of their lesser known ones as the party dresses get most of the attention, but I was drawn to the sweet gathers at the sleeve cap and gentle gathering around the wrist as well. And the front features a pleat on each side so you can eat as much as you like and have a billowy, romantic silhouette.

The pattern comes with 2 collar options. However, in the first mockup I made, the collar just didn’t feel like it had the right proportions and made me feel a bit clownish. Besides, this fabric is busy enough that it really doesn’t need a collar. 

To make the shirt into a dress, I cut the pattern across the waist, added my desired length, and straightened up the side seams by drawing a straight line between a point underneath the armpit all the way to the hem. 

I also made a thin belt out of leftover fabric. Here’s how it looks without, so you can see the full silhouette:

I made the long sleeves according to the pattern, but prefer how it looks with the sleeves rolled up so that I don’t get overwhelmed by the print. 

The buttons I used are (likely vintage) from my stash. I love how delicate and feminine they look. And the best part? THERE IS NOT A SINGLE BUTTONHOLE ON THIS DRESS! *happy dance* 

I followed the advice of Elisalex and sewed the buttons directly through both pieces of fabric, leaving enough room to put the dress on over my head. On the cuffs, I hand sewed a snap directly underneath the decorative button

To finish the hem, I used pre-made hem tape. I figured this would add a little bit of weight to the skirt as it is quite lightweight. I get a lot of my bias tape and similar notions at antique stores. They’re often cheaper than buying them new, and they are color fast products which last well over time.

That’s all for today. I hope you feel inspired to try new prints or hack your favorite pattern to make something unique!

Connie @conniya

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