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Stretch Crepe Stella Shirt Dress

I decided to go for something a bit different for my latest Minerva make.  I picked out this Stretch Crepe Fabric as I loved the bold geometric print and I wanted a challenge of using a lightweight fabric.  This fabric is beautifully soft with the perfect amount of drape for floaty dresses or shirts.

For the pattern choice I had an idea about long sleeves and a pussy bow blouse, both things I don’t normally go for. I found the perfect design in the Stella Shirtdress by Named Clothing, the pattern includes a shirt and a dress, both with raglan sleeves. The dress is lined apart from the sleeves which gather to a narrow elasticated cuff, the neckline is finished with a pussy bow collar and definition is given at the waist with elastic. The pattern suggests using non-stretch lightweight fabrics with drape but as my fabric only has a slight stretch I thought it would be ok.

The picture on the pattern envelope shows the length of the dress as just below the knee – these patterns are drafted for a 5ft 8” figure so to get the same look I’d need to add 6” or 15cm.  I’m not sure that an over the knee look suits me and there wasn’t enough fabric to go full length so I opted for 10cm of added length and hoped for the best.  I thought that ¾ length sleeves would look good so I didn’t adjust the sleeve length.

I bought some additional fabric for the lining – Barcelona stretch crepe in ivory. I wanted a similar fabric to the outer layer and after ordering a few samples I opted for this as it has similar properties but is quite weighty in comparison to the shell fabric. I prewashed both fabric lengths and was very pleased that they laundered really well with zero ironing – bonus!

Both fabrics are really slippery to cut out and I knew that I had to do a bit of clever pattern placement to make sure that visually the dress looked balanced in such a bold print. I spent a bit too much time holding the fabric up to the light and trying to fold it perfectly in half to make sure the print matched across the fold but I’m glad I did. I also took a bit of time to test out a few different needles before choosing a Microtex 60/8 needle to avoid any pulls in the fabric.

The pattern instructions are easy enough to follow and the seam allowance varies depending on the construction technique, combining French seams with overlocked or other finishes. The maths is a bit out on the measurements in the instructions for the French seams as it says to stitch first with a 5mm seam and then an 8mm seam which doesn’t make 15mm in total. I just ignored this as I like a really narrow French seam (I sew 10mm first, press to one side, trim to 3mm and then sew 5mm.)  

Although there are notches on the pattern I feel there could be more indicators for where points should match, in particular around the vent opening at the front and on the sleeves. I was a bit unsure about where to stitch to on the front vent opening as the picture was a little misleading. I’ve no idea how deep the V is meant to be but I added some hand stitching to close this up and make it a bit less revealing as I plan on wearing this to work. Thankfully the really long bow covers this all up.

I didn’t like how the front lining was attached so I changed this to make the seams hidden within the lining, it seemed really silly to go to all the trouble of having a lining with seam finishing on show. I also hand finished the collar on the inside with some slip stitches and ignored the instruction to stitch in the ditch as this method never gives me a neat finish. 

I actually really love the look of this as a blouse and could make this up again and add a bit of length to the body.

I really hate elasticated cuffs, especially when they’re too tight so I made mine really loose so that I can push the sleeves up when I’m wearing it, without cutting off the circulation to my hands. I thought about adding bows at the wrists but practically these will just get dunked in my tea or trail in my dinner so I decided against it.

The finish at the waist is rather odd, instead of matching the raw edges of the skirt and bodice together these are misaligned to give a 1cm seam allowance on the bodice and a 2.5cm seam allowance on the skirt. Why not just make them the same to aid construction?  I ran a line of machine basting at 1.5cm around the skirt to line the raw edge of the bodice to before stitching the seam. I don’t think I finished the elastic waistline as the instructions say but it looks neat. I overlocked my seam and then pressed up towards the bodice.  I then stitched from the right side of the garment to create the channel for the elastic.  

At this stage I decided the length was all wrong. I removed 25cm from the length and am much happier with it.  I think the finish on the inside of this garment is almost as good as on the outside!

50 million photos later and these are the best of a very bad bunch! Sorry to my husband and thanks for your patience behind the camera :)

By Julia from www.juliahincks.com or you can find me on Instagram @juliahincks

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