McCalls 7727 front view

McCalls 7727 shirt dress

I’m trying to make more wearable clothes, I really am. It just depends on the definition of wearable. And what could be more sensible and practical than a shirt dress? Well this particular shirt dress all but has a train, so I don’t suppose it really counts as sensible, but I love it anyway.

McCalls 7727 front view

The pattern is McCalls 7727 which comes with two views, a tunic and a dress, both with a sash and a dramatic high-low hem. There is a sleeveless option or full length sleeves, so it’s easy to produce four different looks. It’s a great pattern but my goodness it’s a fabric hog. I made the dress length version with long sleeves so the worst case. I skipped the sash and ignored the pattern layout, cutting some of the pieces out upside down, and I still used five metres of wide fabric. It’s ivory stretch cotton poplin from Tissu Fabrics, and it’s great quality for a pretty low price.

Cutting this out was very hard work. If you make a lot of McCalls/Butterick/Vogue you’ve probably noticed the special instructions they always include for when there are pieces cut in pairs that need the full fabric width. The cutting layout has a big asterisk which means you fold the fabric in half across the grain, cut down that fold, and then turn the top bit around 180 degrees. Then the nap on both pieces runs the same way, and you can cut the pairs of wide pattern pieces out of that.

It is really difficult to realign the two layers once one is turned over and on this fabric, which has no nap that I can detect, it absolutely wasn’t worth the effort. Next time I’d just fold it crosswise.

McCalls 7727 back view

I meant to look up all the best ways to sew shirt collars and plackets and all those fiddly shirt bits, because we all know pattern instructions don’t always give the easiest method, but in the end I just switched my brain off and followed the pattern. Not only did their methods work beautifully, they were easy too. One exception: I didn’t slip stitch anything down by hand but stitched in the ditch from the right side.

McCalls 7727 3/4 view with pockets

The sleeves can be worn rolled up – the pattern includes a tab and button to do that. I wish I’d french seamed the sleeve seams because the overlocked seam allowances show when the sleeves are rolled up.

Speaking of the sleeves, these went in with no ease stitching and very little pinning. There’s lots of mobility in the arms too.

McCalls 7727 sleeves

I was originally going for a sort of Carolina Herrera look with this: a wide floor sweeping skirt with pockets, a crisp white shirt on the top half, and a very tight, defined waist between the two. But floor length skirts are definitely not practical and I think the high-low hem is a nice compromise which keeps the drama without sacrificing the ability to run up stairs. Not so sure how it’ll cope with a crowded bus though.

I added the pockets; the pattern doesn’t have them. It also doesn’t have much in the way of a waist, relying on the sash or a belt to pull it in. I thought having a white sash would make the whole thing look bridal, hence the belt.

I don’t think I really achieved my vision – the skirt should be in a contrasting colour for starters – but I’ll wear this and that’s the main thing.

Pictures all by my husband. We did these in the early evening and the light has worked out nicely.

McCalls 7727 back view full skirt

Another shirt dress

After I made my Death Star shirt dress I found I couldn’t stop at one. They’re so practical for work. This time I used a vintage pattern, Simplicity 6270. I made the view in stripes on the envelope: long sleeves, shirt collar, and worn with a leather belt rather than a self-fabric one.

Simplicity 6270 envelope picture

I swear I didn’t plan to make it in the same grey as the left hand picture on the envelope. But I had some grey stretch cotton poplin that was perfect for a shirtdress and I’m trying to reduce the stash a bit. So here it is.

Simplicity 6720 grey shirt dress front view

Unlike the Burda pattern I used for the previous dress this one has proper cuffs! They were quite a faff to make but worth it.

Simplicity 6720 grey shirt dress front view
Binding the slashes in the sleeves was less fiddly than I expected.

Binding on sleeve slashes

I really like the 70s collar but if I was making this again I think I’d make a two piece collar. The one in the pattern has the collar stand as part of the main collar piece and it took a lot of pressing to make it sit right. This photo was taken just after I attached the collar; the buttonholes haven’t been made yet.

Close up of collar

Here’s the back view. I shortened the skirt by a good three inches. Vintage patterns have such low hemlines and they look terrible on me!

You can just about see one of the side seam pockets in this photo. They weren’t in the original pattern, but I’m trying to make the effort to add pockets to patterns where I can. I’m always glad I’ve done it after the event, even though it seems like a lot of extra work at the time.

Simplicity 6720 grey shirt dress back view

So there it is. Next up will be the coat project I hope!

Death Star take two: Burda shirt dress

Now witness the firepower of this armed and fully operational shirt dress. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the quote because this is the second dress I have made out of Death Star fabric.
Burda 106-04-2011

Why is it Death Star fabric? Here it is close up. The design is meant to be glitter balls, but it looks like the Death Star to me. It’s a Liberty Tana lawn from the Liberty Rocks collection they did in 2011. I bought it to recreate a much-loved wrap dress, got the amount wrong, and ended up with a largish piece left over.

I came across the leftovers again while tearing the sewing room apart looking for a pattern I’d lost and got the idea to make a shirt dress out of them. There was just enough fabric for Burda 108-04-2011, which uses remarkably little yardage for a long-sleeved dress. Sadly the pattern is not available for download. However it’s a variant of this one, which doesn’t include the long sleeves but is otherwise the same base pattern with some added details.

One thing I very much like about this style is the centre back seam. It’s hard to spot the seamline on this fabric, but it gives the dress a nice bit of shape at the waist which I think is visible. There’s no waist seam.

Burda 106-04-2011

Anyway, as I was banging on about how misleading photos can be last week, I’d better say something about the wearability of this dress. It’s really very comfortable. The sleeves are the perfect length for me; I like them a bit on the long side. I can fit a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath for extra warmth (and I am doing so in the pictures; there’s some realism!) although the sleeves are definitely on the slim side. The skirt’s a very good length: not over-long but not so short I have to worry about sitting down. And the print nicely hides all the creases on the skirt from where I have sat down. I haven’t worn it to work yet, nor have I figured out what work-appropriate shoes might go with it. But so far so good.

Into the blue

So here’s my version of Vogue 1220 being worn by me for the first time, as opposed to my dressform. I really like it. But it’s not at all the easy-to-wear shirtdress I’d envisioned. This dress is short.




I’m surprised by the shortness because the envelope photo shows it stopping on the middle of the model’s knees. I made my usual length adjustments before cutting it out, but I think I’d need to add another four or five inches to get the hem to the equivalent length on me. I am going to have to invest in some very thick tights.

On the other hand, it has highly practical pockets. More dresses should have pockets. And the little sleeves are a nice change, and I love the pleats on the bodice.



Other than the length issue it’s really comfortable. I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough walking ease but it’s come out fine. It’s a great design and I really recommend it – but I’m very glad I read all the Pattern Review reviews of it first because the pattern instructions miss out an important step in finishing the placket. Some of the reviews also point out alternative ways to do some of the steps to avoid hand sewing. I’m all for that.

I’m definitely going to wear this version, but I think I’ll try making it again and adding some length too.