Monday, March 11, 2013

Finished Shirtwaist dress

I (Major Moma) posted earlier (HERE) about sewing a dress for my friend.  And I wanted to give an update and a full out pattern review of the Shirtwaist Dress from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing.

 This is the finished practice dress; a.k.a. the wearable muslin.  I warned my friend that in order to make sure it fits right, I will need to make a practice version.  And I gave her a choice.  She could buy cheep unbleached cotton and I can practice on that and then that practice version is basically only good for scraps.  OR she could buy an inexpensive fabric and if the practice version turned out well, she gets a bonus dress.  Either way, she gets the peace of mind that I would not screw up the dress she will wear in the wedding. 

She obviously chose to buy an inexpensive fabric.  It is Premier Prints Oxygen Dots French Blue/ Brown from  It is a cotton duck fabric with printed polka dots.  I would never have thought of cotton duck for this dress but it worked out beautifully.  The fabric is a little more heavy weight than your normal dress fabric but its stiffness actually gave it great body and she says it is very comfortable.   The only issue I had with this fabric is that it really takes its toll on your fingers when your are hand sewing.  A thimble is a must when making the bound buttons!

The dress in the book.  (Source)
Here is what the dress looks like in the book.  I think mine compares nicely.

The dress is not lined and has a simple facing down the center and through the shoulders.  I hand stitched the shoulder facing down on the inside to hide the seems in the back. 

There were a few fun elements to this pattern.  First it has pockets!  When I was constructing the dress the pockets were a bit confusing.  I did not find the mark on the pattern on where to place them.  So, I stuck them where I thought they belonged.  And they worked out great.  They actually don't show at all until you put your hand in them as they are in the seem and the fullness of the dress hides any bulk.

The pattern has bound button holes and they were fun to learn how to do.  Gertie has in-depth instructions in her tricks and tips portion of the book.  They were both harder and easier than I thought they would be.  But that is more a statement about my hand sewing skills than the instructions.  I do recommend that you make very careful measurements when you are marking your button holes.  I had a couple bound buttons that were a little smaller than the rest and it was very hard to get the buttons through.  But, good news, because of the shirring in the back of the waist, You can slip this dress over your head!

The waist back is shirred with elastic thread.
The front waist has pretty little pleats that line up perfectly with the dart on the bodice.  It really creates a nice swing to the dress without a lot of bulk at the tummy.  The sleeves have a band at the hem, which is a nice touch.  The pattern calls for a rolled hem on the skirt, but due to the weight of the fabric and the way I wanted it to be, I gave it a one inch hem.

This is a great pattern.  The instructions are great and all except for the pockets, everything is abundantly clear and sews up well.  And if you are not attached to the idea of bound buttons, this dress would sew up very quickly. 

I think she looks great in the dress and she is very happy with it. 


  1. I am not attached to the idea of bound buttonholes and I would love for you to make me one Love M


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