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When Lisa from Sew Over It published her ebook „My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break” last year, I fell head over heals in love with the concept: five patterns that make up an interchangeable capsule wardrobe for a weekend city trip! I bought the book straight away, and then the usual happened: I got sidetracked with other patterns I wanted to make, and the ebook lay idle at the base of my pattern pile… until one rainy day this March during our vacation in Scotland. I was sitting on the sofa in our B&B, staring out at the rain, when a post from Monika (@Rocco.Sienna), Suzy (@sewing_in_spain) and Sarah (@sewsarahsmith) popped up on my Instagram feed: the announcement of the #sewtogetherforsummer shirt dress challenge! I had never participated in an Insta-Challenge before, the idea of sewing a summer shirt dress together with lots of others seemed very appealing (especially when looking out at the rain!), and the prizes the ladies were able to secure were tempting! With the Alex Shirt Dress pattern on my mind, I “entered” the challenge (all you had to do was repost the pic). And as luck would have it, I stumbled upon the perfect fabric a couple of days later, when I was fabric shopping in Edinburgh: a very soft, tropical looking viscose! Back at home, I went to work.
Thanks to my constant sewing companion, Joi Marhon’s great book “Create the perfect fit”, I have become quite good at tracing my common pattern changes (mostly shortening the skirt, and taking in the top) right onto the pattern without having to make a toile. So, after measuring the Alex pattern, I shortened the dress by 15 cm. The design calls for a dipped hem, but looking at the pictures I was a little worried that the “dipping” was too much for a short person – so I flattened out the curve a little bit on the back piece. I also shaved off 2cm respectively on both side seams. I have never made a shirt dress or even a shirt before, so I decided to make up a toile after all with the changed pattern. Only back and front piece, without sleeves or collar, just to check width and length of the garment. That turned out to be a good idea, because the back piece was still very large on me. I took it in by another 2cm on each side seam, taking off 8 cm in total. That was sufficient, and I went on to cut out my pieces.
During that process, my nice and soft fabric almost drove me out of my mind!! Everything was constantly shifting, no two pieces matched, and the collar was totally crooked. I managed, though not without copious swearing! But I really enjoyed the process of sewing Alex. The pattern involves a lot of techniques that I hadn’t done before, like attaching a yoke and a collar and making button holes. So I went about it slowly and learned a lot. And I am sooo pleased I took my time – I really like the way the collar sits, and I am very proud of my button holes!
Lisa has added some info (though no pattern pieces) for an optional belt – and after trying on the finished dress, I decided to add it straight away. Without a belt, I looked like my granny in her cleaning outfit! But I love the dress with the belt – I think it looks so sophisticated! The fabric is nice and light for a warm day, and the dress fits nicely over a tank top and stockings as well. So: Succesful premiere for button holes, first Insta Challenge completed and a new summer dress to add to my closet – I am happy! On to the Flying Needle Summary:
Pattern: Alex Shirt Dress from the Sew Over It Ebook „My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break“
Fabric: viscose from Remnant Kings in Edinburgh
Changes made: I shortened the dress by 15cm and additionally flattened out the dipped hem on the back piece. I took off a total of 8cm in width from the back piece as well.
Summary: The Alex Shirt Dress is no beginners pattern. Although a confident beginner will manage just fine thanks to the pictures of all steps that are included in the ebooks. The dress is not a quick make, but as there are so many individual steps, you can break the project down into a couple of “evening sewing sessions” and be finished in good time. I am not a huge fan of blouses and shirt dresses, so this Alex will probably stay my only one, but I really, really like my dress!!