Wednesday, 6 January 2016

A Pink Gingham Shirtwaister - My first make of 2016

After having a particularly horrible Christmas day (resulting in my Husband and I cutting his parents from our life for the foreseeable future) I really lost my motivation to sew or to do anything really. We mostly spent days on the couch watching "Once upon a time". I did however go to my local Spotlight on boxing day morning with my future sis-in-law and buy a few goodies, including Pink Gingham for a shirtwaister dress. I was originally going to use some pink gingham I had in my stash, but I only had about 2m of it, so even with using white cotton for some contrast, it would still have been quite a stretch

The idea for the Shirt Dress Sewing circle came about when the lovely Lyric of Sew Lyrically Vintage posted this delightful dress in the Those Darn Sew and Sews facebook group, and a bunch of ladies decided it would be a great idea to have an informal sew-along group for Shirt-waister style dresses, as they are a great vintage style wardrobe staple. While the person who began the facebook group chose to go with the reprint pattern Simplicity 1459, it is up to each individual participant to choose what pattern they want to use.

I did a bit of Pinterest-ing and found a few pieces for inspiration, looking especially for designs using contrasting pieces of white:

Even though I purchased the Simplicity pattern on boxing day, I just didn't love to look of it for this project, as I wanted a very traditional Shirtwaister dress. I do have a vintage pattern that I had used before, but I graded the pattern up straight onto the fabric, so I would have to grade it up all over again, and I remember struggling a bit with sewing the design of the collar. However, I did have a suitable pattern that I had used recently for my Frenchie costume. The collar sews up easily, and all I have to do is add bodice darts and a full gathered skirt.

Even though I now had extra fabric, I decided I still liked the idea of using come contrasting bits of white for visual interest, which also meant I could make the skirt extra full. After I cut out the bodice and sleeve pieces from the gingham, I measured how much was left and worked out I could manage 4 widths of fabric for my skirt (instead of the usual 2 or 3) if I used a panel of white.

Even though I had been planning this dress for sometime, I was in a serious slump after Christmas due to some family drama, which left me with absolutely zero motivation to do anything. I really tried pushing myself to get into it, and yet it still took me well over a week just to get all the pieces cut out. On January 4th, I finally found the energy to get a start on the sewing and overlocking, and before I knew it, it was after midnight. But I had almost a whole bodice, minus the collar and facings, so I was feeling much better.

The results at the end of my first evening of sewing of 2016

The next day I got back into it and sewed the pockets and the skirt to the bodice, then began work on the collar and facings. Once the collar and facings were done, I pressed and sewed the hem.

I had chosen out 2 options for buttons, but once I pinned them to the fabric, I realised the clear ones were too off-white for the fabric and just look dirty. So although the pink ones were a bit smaller than I'd prefer, when I pinned them on, they looked pretty good, so I went with them.

I had 12 pink buttons in total, so on the third day of sewing, I measured along the front and decided to place them at 3 inch intervals. I marked where the buttonholes needed to go and began stitching them up using the method I outlined during the Sun Frock Sew-Along.

You can just see my faint pencil marks for the buttonholes
Once the buttonholes were done, I used them to mark the locations of the buttons and lazily stitched them on using the zig zag stitch on my machine.

Then I tried and mostly failed to take a selfie, showing the fullness of the skirt. So I got my Husband to take a few snaps for me before we went out shopping.

As you can see, the skirt is super full

And it's got pockets!
I still want to make a matching belt for this dress, but I seem to have misplaced the roll of stuff I use to make bets from, so that will have to wait. As it is, I am super happy with my first dress for 2016, it has come out wonderfully, if I do say so myself. I think it will be getting a lot of wear in the year to come.

I think the unofficial deadline for the Sew-Along is the end of February, but as this is an informal sew-along, you can still join in if you want to, even if you don't plan to finish on time. Just ask to join the facebook group here. I'm looking forward to seeing how everyone else's creations turn out!



  1. Looks gorgeous on you. I really do like that white inset in the skirt. If I hadn't read why it's there I'd never have dreamed it originated from not enough fabric at first. Er actually, tbh, I sew. So I just might have worked it out :-P

    And definitely the pink buttons! They work so well.

    1. Thanks. I know, I wouldn't have even thought of putting a panel in the skirt like that for decoration, had I not been initially short on fabric, but now I absolutely love it and will probably do it again on other dresses.

  2. That skirt is crazy full and I love it! What a beautiful way to start off the 2016 sewing year.

    Katie @ Katie Writes Stuff

    1. Yep, It's the fullest skirt I've ever made (not including my wedding dress) Just what I needed to perk me up and start the year with :)

  3. I love this so much! Looks wonderful on you, and pink is definitely your color. Nice work dear!

    1. Thanks Kacy, I do love me some pink! Hehehehe

  4. What a beautiful dress, I love it!! Pink really suits you :D

    1. Thank you, it's one of my Favourite Colours :)

  5. I love how this dress came out ~ pink gingham with the white trim; positively dreamy! ❤

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    1. Thank you, and I realised one of the inspiration pictures looks very similar to a dress you've worn recently on your blog!