Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress

One reason I wanted to start sewing my own clothes was that I had a vision of the perfect shirt dress. Store bought dresses never fit me right. I am tall and pear shaped, so if they fit in the waist they were too big in the bust and they were always way too short. When I was first learning how to sew, I knew a shirt dress would be complicated for a beginner, so I wanted to build my skills to get to that point. I’m not sure why it took me quite this long to make a shirt dress as I have had the skills for a while now. In a way it seems fitting that on the ten year anniversary of Rake and Make (I started this blog in early 2012) I have finally made the shirtdress of my dreams!



Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress

Fabric & Notions

Atelier Brunette Palmetto Rayon Night purchased from Stylemaker Fabrics
This was my first piece Atelier Brunette fabric and I now understand the hype. This is beautiful and lovely (to work with and touch) fabric.

Size traced and sewn

Graded from size 14 at the bust to 16 at the waist

Pattern adjustments

  • Added 1 1/4″ to bicep
    I usually have to do a bicep adjustment, but I had read in pattern reviews of the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress that the sleeves were tiny, so I made these adjustments before I even muslined it based on the bicep size of my recent Sewaholic Granville Shirt.
  • Hacked sleeve to be short sleeve (sleeve options in the pattern are long or sleeveless)
  • Added pockets
  • Lengthened bodice 1 3/4″
  • Lengthened skirt 1″
  • Brought in waist 5/8″

Construction notes

After waiting so long to make a shirt dress, I was surprised by how quickly this came together. Granted, I muslined it and make all the fit adjustments I listed above, but once I got the fit down, the construction of this dress is pretty straightforward I think.

I was a bit confused by the pleats for some reason. The pleats appear in both the bodice and skirt (vs. darts) and at first I thought I was supposed to just pleat it (like by folding the fabric and basting it). I didn’t understand that I was supposed to sew all the way up the marked lines. I also pressed the pleats to the wrong side, but I was able to fix all that with some hand sewing and creative pressing, so I don’t think it’s too noticeable.


Despite the pleat debacle, I am very pleased with the fit of this dress! This is  exactly the silhouette I love. It’s fitted but not too tight (as some of my  other fit and flair dresses are these days), so it is super comfortable.  That will make this a great everyday dress for dressing up or just looking nice for work.

I also made a matching mask… of course.

Final Thoughts

I actually made this dress back in September of last year to wear to my cousin’s wedding in Virginia. It was an outdoor wedding and was still warm there that time of year, so I just wore it with a pair of my favorite clog sandals and my Seamwork Audrey Jacket. Since then I have also worn it with tights and boots, layered with my Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan, so this is also the type of dress you can wear year-round. Since I was so pleased with how this shirt dress turned out (and this was  a quicker and easier make than I expected), I am already working on a second one!

5 thoughts on “Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress

    1. Thank you! Yeah, everyone’s adjustments are going to be different. I mostly just grade and lengthen things with the occasional bicep adjustment. I don’t have to do FBAs or anything. I also mostly sew indie patterns and it depends on the block the pattern designer uses, but I have found that Closet Core Patterns fit me really well out the package for example, so I have never had to mess with crotch curves with their pants patterns or anything like that either. The other benefit to sewing indie patterns is that they often have great sew alongs on their blogs that may show how to do fit adjustments. I have also found the Palmer Pletsch Guide to Fitting really helpful as well!

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