Sunday 25 September 2016

Completed: M&S Inspired shirt dress

Hello, hello! Wow, I made a thing and I even got photos! I took an unintentional break for a bit there. There's just been quite a lot of Life Admin that's taken up all my time. Hopefully normal service will resume reasonably soon.

I mentioned before that I have been ploughing through some WIPs before starting anything new. This is the last. Well, it's not the last WIP I own, but it's the last I am finishing right now.
Still rocking the bare legs at the end of Sept!!!
This was a slow burner. Instagram tells me I cut this out on 16th April. My blog tells me I've started and finished 8 other items since then. I don't really know why this has taken so long, other than I made my first ever shirt in the most lightweight, shifty, loosely woven fabric ever, errr, woven, and that some evenings I just wasn't that into torturing myself.

Let's go back to the beginning on this one. The dress is ripped off from inspired by the below dress from the Autograph range in M&S, which I spotted in January.  It was one of those "oh, I could easily make that" type moments that actually gained some traction. I already owned the Archer shirt pattern. I just needed to play around with it and then find the right fabric.
I found the fabric pretty easily, from Anna Ka Bazaar. It's a very lightweight viscose, that moves when you so much as show it the scissors, but I loved the stripes, which run parallel to the selvedge. Perfect for the back of the dress. It's probably too lightweight for this (the original dress was in a medium weight poly), but I didn't know that until it arrived and it was also very cheap. Including postage, it cost 31.60 euros for 3m, so about £27, and I have fabric leftover. The M&S dress was about £65, I think.

So, the pattern is obviously based on the Archer. I did all the alterations so long ago, I can't remember exactly what I did, but essentially, I cut the front piece at the waist, then "drafted" a skirt piece, which was basically the bottom part that I cut off extended to the length I wanted. I tapered the sides out a little to make it slightly A line, just so I'd have enough room to walk, although in the end I also added side vents. The back was just extended to the dress length and widened the same as the front. That was it, although I ultimately added a hem facing as well because I didn't make it quite long enough.

There is a pocket, but only one, in the side seam. I omitted the breast pocket in the original pattern. Genuinely can't remember why I only did one pocket. Laziness, probably.

I based the stripe placement on that of the M&S dress. That was the bit I loved the most about it. Before cutting out, I wrote a list of how to cut each part, and I actually marked each pattern piece with how to cut it (on grain or cross grain) with a little diagram.

I found my first shirt OK to make, actually, despite the difficult fabric. I followed the sewalong on the Grainline blog to the letter, except that I used Andrea's tutorial for the collar because I've read so many good things about it. I enjoyed the process. Some of it was great - I loved doing the yoke - some was not so great - my sleeve plackets are an absolute mess - but I did enjoy it, when I was in the mood to sew it. The quality of my sewing is so so, but it's good enough. Sometimes good enough is OK. Something is also a bit off at the hem as it doesn't hang straight, although it measures the same length all the way around. I suspect I should have rounded the hem a bit, but it doesn't bother me enough to do anything about it.

Ultimately, I love it. It feels a little nightdress-ish on, so I'm glad I didn't do the curved shirt style hem (which on dresses makes me feel even more like I'm wearing a nightie), but it's so comfy. And cool. In both senses. I just love it. P hates it, but what does he know?! ;)
Small Boy was my assistant on this "shoot"!
I have fabric to make 2 more Archers (a tencel and a rayon voile - I like to keep things challenging). Let's hope they don't take as long!


  1. I absolutely love this! I want to make one now.

  2. This is gorgeous, love the directionality of the stripes!

  3. Lovely dress, even nicer than the inspiration one

  4. This turned out wonderfully!! Those different stripe directions are really cool and the overall look is totally striking. I also like the lone pocket. :D

  5. So cool. Love the stripes, the length everything really! Looks so good.

  6. So cool. Love the stripes, the length everything really! Looks so good.

  7. I love how this turned out, and it looks as good in real life! I'm so impressed you made your first shirt as one with so much self-drafting and alteration as well!

  8. You sure like to make challenging fabric choices :D you are much braver than I am, great job with your first shirt!

  9. You are looking great! Your outfit all-in-one summer essential with a sweet twist. Actually long shirt dresses dresses have some nice tailored feel such as buttons, slim cut, maybe a nice little belt too.

  10. I think this is awesome, I want one!


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