Thursday, January 31, 2019

Sewin' a Satara Shirt Dress

Shirt dresses.You know, the dresses that resemble a button down shirt with a skirt attached? Such a classic style.Yet, one that’s never really appealed to me. However, in the past few months, shirt dresses have been growing on me. I’ve found myself picking up shirt dress patterns at Joann’s during pattern sales. I’ve admired shirt dresses others have made online. I’ve pinned shirt dresses on Pinterest. Then, in November, Winter Wear Designs put out a testing call for a shirt dress, and I was very tempted to apply. But I didn’t. Couldn’t. I was too busy costuming A Christmas Carol to even think about testing a pattern.

Then, in December, the Winter Wear shirt dress, the Satara Dress, was released, and, once again, it appealed to me. The slightly non-traditional collar. The fun, swingy, ¾ circle skirt. Oh yes, I wanted that dress - clearly I needed to add a shirt dress to my closet! I started hoping the dress would fit with the theme of a future blog tour so I’d have an excuse to make it!

Well, here we are, the first Winter Wear Designs blog tour of 2019 and Suzanne delivered - the theme of the tour is plackets! Button plackets! Long plackets, short plackets, plackets in dresses, plackets in shirts, plackets for girls, plackets for boys - all the plackets! And what does a shirt dress have? One long placket, right down the front. My shirt dress came to be!

Once it was established I would be making the dress, I did a quick look through my stash to pick my fabric. After considering stripes, plaids, and a handful of florals, I settled on this red large floral print quilting cotton - given to be by my grandma at some point last summer. The 3/4 circle skirt would show off the large print beautifully!

I only had 3 yards of this 44" fabric, and, in my size, the pattern calls for 3.5 yards of 60" fabric, so clearly this was going to be a tight squeeze. Originally I wanted to do 3/4 length sleeves, but there simply wasn't enough fabric for that, so I did short sleeves instead.

I also had to cut the bodice with a center back seam, rather than on the fold, and all the facings, plus the yoke lining, are cut from a coordinating green fabric. If you choose to use 44" wide fabric to make this dress, rather than the recommended 60" fabric, I highly recommend having at least 4 yards of fabric to use for the size medium!

Once the all of the dress pieces were eeked out of the fabric I had, the sewing commenced. The construction of this dress is pretty straight forward - assemble the bodice, set the sleeves, assemble the skirt, sew the skirt to the bodice, attach the placket, attach the collar, then sew buttons and buttonholes and hem.

I made the bodice, then tried it on, prior to attaching the skirt, in order to get an idea of the fit before I finished the dress. If there was anything I wanted to change, this was the time to change it! The Satara is a relaxed fit shirt dress - fitted through the bust then loose and comfy after that. Well, I tried on my completed bodice and decided I wanted my dress to have a closer fit through the waist. Thankfully, with the princess-seamed bodice, this was an easy alteration to make.

I put on the bodice inside out, then pinned along the princess seams until the bodice had the fit I wanted.  The front seams now have nearly a 1" seam allowance at the waist, tapering back to the standard 5/8" seam allowance at the bust, and the bodice front fits like a glove!

Rather than take in the back bodice seams at all, I just made a single inverted box pleat in the center back at the waist. This makes a nice little design detail while bringing the waist in to fit the way I wanted, without affecting the fantastic fit I already had through the upper back and shoulders.

Once the waistline was taken in, I tried the bodice on again and decided there was one more little alteration I wanted to  do before attaching the skirt. I'm long-waisted, which is something I often forget to account for when cutting out patterns. (Seriously, I've learned to always, always, alter for my wide shoulders, yet I still consistently forget to alter for my long torso so I have several dresses in my closet with a slightly too-short bodice!) The Satara bodice is meant to hit at the natural waistline, the narrowest point of the torso, an inch or so above the belly button. Well, my bodice hit me right at the bottom of my rib cage rather than at my natural waist. Thus, I decided at add a band to the bottom of my bodice, bringing it down to my natural waist.

I thankfully had a couple scraps of fabric left over that were just wide enough for me to piece together a waistband from!

With the bodice fit altered to fit my tastes, I was ready to attach the skirt. There was just one slight issue. Since I'd taken in the bodice a bit, the bodice waistline was now shorter than the skirt waistline. So, I ran a couple rows of long basting stitches along the upper edge of the skirt, and used those to ease the skirt down to the bodice waist measurement.

Finally, the skirt was sewn onto the bodice and it was down to just the finishing work! I attached the long front placket and collar according to the pattern directions.

Since I'd added length to the entire dress by adding a waistband, my placket, which I'd cut out prior to sewing, much less altering, was a little shorter than the front of my dress. This was no problem, I just trimmed the excess length off the bottom of the skirt after sewing on the placket. My skirt is still plenty long enough - it's my torso that's longer than average, not my legs.

Once the placket and collar were on, I made button holes and sewed one long line of buttons all down the front - spaced closely together on the bodice for maximum security, and farther apart on the skirt where there will be less strain applied to the buttons. 

Finally, it was time for hemming, then my Satara shirt dress would be done!

Typically I hem circle skirts, and partial circle skirts, with bias tape - and that is the recommended hemming method in the Satara instructions - but this time I decided to do something a little different.

First I serged around the bottom edge of the skirt with differential feed set on my serger to just slightly gather the material. This brought the overall bottom hem circumference down to about the same circumference as the skirt was a couple inches above the hem. The hem could now be pressed up about an inch without any little tucks or pleats forming due to excess material. So, that's what I did!

I pressed the hem up an inch and a quarter, all the way around. Then I pressed the serged edge under so it wouldn't be seen and I'd have a nice clean hem. Finally, I topstitched the hem in place, and the dress was done!

All done!

And just what I'd hoped it would be!

Full skirted, with a non-obtrusive collar, and a pretty placket of buttons all down the front!

Yes, the Satara was just the right shirt dress to add to my closet!

Now, Check out the rest of the plackets blog tour to see all the other fabulous placketed Winter Wear Designs makes!

January 29
Aurelie of Maglice&So (guest posting at WWD)

January 30

January 31
Alyssa  of The Sewing Goatherd
Jessica of Jot Designs USA

Feb 1
Meriel of Elli and Nels


  1. Funny, I'm not typically a shirt dress gal either, but I fell in love with yours as soon as i saw it! Don't know if it is the perfect tailored fit rather than the slightly blouson look some have, or that wonderful print!! Either way I am hunting up some fabric to make one of my own.
    Very clever to vary the button spacings! I never thought of doing that, but is makes perfect sense and looks great!

    1. Thanks! Yes, I think well -fitted garments can definitely change our opinions on styles we may have once disliked :)