Washed Denim Isca Shirt Dress
Posted in Projects on Wednesday the 16th September 2020 by Vicki Ormerod
Scanning through the list of fabulous fabric at Minerva was mind blowing. This year I’m really trying to consider what fabrics I sew up as I’m totally guilty of making us lovely garments but then not having tops or bottoms to match them with which I’m sure a lot of your sewers can relate to. So when I spotted a few denim options I was sold as denim goes with everything! I chose a classic blue lightweight soft washed Denim Fabric
Obviously denim weights vary massively and although this was described as lightweight I couldn’t be 100% sure how lightweight until I had actually received the fabric, so this did mean at the time of ordering I had no idea what I was going to make. I ordered 2.5 meters figuring this would give me plenty to play around with, particularly being a good 60 inch wide.
What I received didn’t disappoint. This is definitely not a denim suitable for jeans. I would say it feels more like a chambray weight and it does have a little bit of drape to it. But it is suitable for all sorts of garments including dresses, skirts and tops. It would make a fantastic classic denim shirt. You could probably get away with making lightweight summer trousers or a jumpsuit (which I did consider) but not trousers that are going to have more strain put on them.
Anyway onto what I actually did make with the fabric. I made the Isca Shirt Dress by Marilla Walker.
I absolutely love Marillas patterns and have wanted to make this dress for ages. I have met Marilla in person and she was actually wearing a Tencel denim version which was just stunning!
The pattern gives you two options with the first being a standard fitted shirt style top with collar stand and collar with a relaxed waist and gathered skirt. The second version is a semi loose draped front dress that wraps to one side and is secured with a tie belt. Both versions have a 3/4 length sleeve. I chose to make up version 2 but both would be perfectly suited to this fabric.
What I love about this pattern are the details. The inside of the dress is as neat as the outside as most seams are finished using a lapped seam. Basically this is like the flat felted seam finish you see on jeans so all raw edges are encased within the seam allowance. This fabric is just ideal to show off these seams (I did contemplate using a different colour top stitch but stuck with blue).
Another lovely feature are the reinforced shoulders. Again this gives a beautiful clean finish on the inside but gives a touch of something different on the outside
But the most ingenious thing about the version I made is the front wrap. I must admit there was a little bit of head scratching going on when I was looking at the flat pattern pieces layed out as I couldn’t quite envisage how they would go together.
The main front is one large piece cut on the fold with an added front yoke. The whole thing is then finished with a band that runs the entire circumference of the neck. The tie band is secured to the middle of the front piece. So before it’s tied it looks like one large open pouch (as my husband put it!!). Hopefully you get the idea from the following picture
To create the wrap the tie is then pulled to the left hand side of the dress and is fed through a neat little belt loop attached at the side seam.
The back is quite straight forward as far as construction goes. The top has darts running down to the waist line so giving a bit of definition. Darts also run down the back of the skirt. The top and bottom are attached with a lapped seam.
And of course it has pockets! This version has patch pockets that sit on an angle.
After my initial head scratching the dress was pretty easy to sew up. It does take a little bit of time as in effect you’re sewing the seams twice and there are quite a few pattern pieces. But as long as you read and follow the instructions carefully and make sure you mark all your notches (I even used tailor tacks!) it comes together perfectly.
I almost forgot to say, I had to be resourceful with pattern placement as the pattern called for 2.8 meters for my size but I managed to fit it on to the 2.5 meters I had with just an odd shaped remnant left (so no room for mistakes).
The only down side I had with the fabric is it didn’t like a hot iron. I assumed being a denim it would withstand a hot iron but I managed to scold the fabric, thankfully it’s on the inside and has just left a slight variation of blue! Not sure if it was my iron and it had something stuck to the plate (probably glue from the interfacing!!!) But after that I aired on the side of caution.
Also one word of warning - DON’T SIT ON A WHITE LEATHER SOFA IN THIS FABRIC. Not until it’s had a few washes at least! After spending the day happily sewing away I looked at my hands to find they had turned a deep shade of blue, and not from being cold :-) But that’s denim for you.
So all in all really pleased with the fabric and pattern and especially paired together. I can’t wait to wear it, even though I still haven’t actually sewn the button on (The neck is secured at the front with a little button) but hey I might just stick a little pin badge on for now!
Thanks for reading and happy sewing