It feels impossible for me to have too many shift dresses. There are plenty of reasons for that, including the fact that they can be worn for so many different occasions. Those dresses are perfect for work and any situations where you feel like a casual style isn’t quite appropriate. It can be anything from going to the theatre or museum, to birthday celebrations and weddings.
For as long as I’ve been sewing, I was searching for the perfect shift dress pattern. I was trying all kind of different designs from Burda Style magazine since they have classy dresses in almost every single issue. I even tried to draft my own body block which ended up in a horrible way (well, it’s believed to be a bad technique and I had to try a different one). I must say that I never came across the perfect pattern that can be used over and over again, but it wasn’t the main plan I had in mind. The idea was to try different designs and fill my wardrobe with lovely dresses.
This time I picked Burda Style 8/2013 #116 pattern and it was a slightly unusual choice for me. It features an interesting V-neck detail that I never used before and a pleated skirt. It’s not exactly a pencil one, which makes it easier to sew - no back vent and too much fitting. Even still, I had to fit it quite a bit in the back. In the end, the good fit was achieved by adding two extra darts, something that almost always works for me. I also raised the V-neck a bit to make the dress a bit more modest. Surprisingly I also had to raise the bodice and shorten the sleeves - two completely conflicting adjustments, but it happens to be a feature of the pattern that many seamstresses have noticed.
I used Wool & Mohair Suiting Fabric, which was the perfect choice for this dress. It’s quite lightweight and very suitable for the pleats. The colour is beautiful and it changes its intensity under different angles. This fabric washes nicely and the only effort you might apply is to press it. Most of the suiting wool materials are tricky to press because they bounce back as soon as you lift the iron. The trick is to press it with wood straight after the iron. You can use a tailor’s clapper, but it’s not a must. I figured out that a simple thin untreated wooden box can be used in the same way with good results. And don’t forget to dampen your ironing cloth, of course.
This high-quality suiting fabric is a great value for money and it can be used for the most sophisticated classy garments.