Black and White Midi Shirt Dress

Hello everyone! I know I’ve been a bit MIA recently, but I am back. Considering today’s dress is black, I guess you could say I’m BACK IN BLACK!! Sorry…I couldn’t help squeezing in some AC/DC humor there. Anyway, life got a bit hectic this summer, and I decided to take a break from social media and blogging to help free up some brain space. This worked out better than I could have hoped. Not only did this break give me time to take care of life, it also gave me a chance to take a good look at my blog and think about the direction I want to take it moving forward.

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress

After a lot of thought, I realized some of the makes I was churning out before my mini-hiatus were perhaps not the best representation of who I am as a sewer and designer. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many that I absolutely love. However, there are others that never got their 15 minutes of fame on the blog. As a matter of fact, some of them haven’t even seen the outside of my closet.

I feel that I was getting caught up in the need to post something new every week, whether I really wanted to or not. I think this resulted in a couple things. First, I made some choices that didn’t fit with my personal style or were not especially flattering. And second, I think I was getting in the habit of making patterns that were the new hotness in the sewing community, without really thinking about how they were going to work for me and my wardrobe.

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress

With all that being said, moving forward, I’m going to publish new posts every other week. Although, don’t be surprised if you hear from me more often than that. When I do post, it will be projects that are thoughtful, beautiful and the best representation of who I am. I’m going to get back to really sewing because I love it and want a unique, inspired wardrobe, instead of sewing because I need to get out a blog post. I hope you will all continue to follow me on my sewing journey. I feel certain things are only going to get better from here! (Just because I haven’t been blogging, doesn’t mean I haven’t been sewing. There is some super cool stuff coming up…I promise.)

I could not be more excited to share today’s dress. This is one of my favorite dresses I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a lot of dresses. I feel like a million bucks in this little number, and I don’t think I can really ask for more than that. If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know how much I love button-downs and shirt dresses. You give me a garment with a collar and a button-front, and I’m probably going to wear it until it’s down to its last thread. Well, except one shirt dress, and it knows who it is…ahem…striped linen shirt dress…ahem.

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress

I was inspired to make this dress, after I saw this Burberry dress online. What struck me the most about this dress was the ease and flow it had. That it was a shirt dress didn’t hurt either. I must say, I’m not in love with the super-long armholes, the weird seaming around the butt or the print, but these were details I could easily change to get exactly what I wanted.

Planning this dress was two-fold. I needed to find a pattern that I could hack and fabric that would give me that same breezy feeling as the original. The Burberry dress was made from silk twill, but I had a suspicion that rayon would give me the movement I wanted. Spoiler alert – I was right. (I’m totally patting myself on the back right now.)

The fabric I decided on is this amazing black and white twill printed rayon challis from Mood. It also comes in sky blue and indigo. Not only does it have this abstract black and white thing going on, but it also has a twill texture printed right onto the fabric. How cool is that? Aside from the ease with which it cut and sewed, it has a pretty epic amount of drape. To get this much movement, though, I did need to sacrifice a bit of structure with the collar. I should also mention, it is super soft and feels great on the skin. As I’m typing this, I’m thinking how luxurious a pair of pajamas would be in this fabric…hmmmm.

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress

For the pattern, I pulled out all my shirt dress patterns, and that is a lot of patterns. This may come as a bit of a surprise, but despite my lukewarm feelings for this striped linen shirt dress, I decided Simplicity 8546 would be my best option to hack.

The first thing I did was address the fullness of the skirt portion. The original pattern has a very slight A-line, and even paired with flowy fabric, the pattern wouldn’t give me the movement I wanted. To alter the pattern, I made two slits in the bottom portion, from the hem to just below the waist line, on both the front and back pieces. I then spread the skirt open three inches at each of the slits. This added a total of 24 inches to the circumference of the skirt. Next, I removed seven and a half inches from the hem to make it midi-length.

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress
My Pattern Alterations

One of the things that really drives me crazy about this pattern is the big pleat in the back. I hate it. I think it makes the back billow out in a really unflattering way. So, to cut down on the hunchback affect (there will always be a bit of volume with any pleat or gather), I omitted the pleat and instead gathered the width of the back bodice. This helped distribute the extra fabric across the entire back.

My other two design changes to the pattern were the sleeves, or lack thereof, and the front closures. I wanted a sleeveless dress, so I omitted the sleeves and finished the armholes with bias tape – that I made myself!! My mom recently gifted me my own set of bias tape makers, and these babies are game-changing! I’m not a fan of store-bought bias tape. It always feels so stiff, and I can never get it in exactly the color I want. Well, these bias tape makers solve all those issues. I’d say in less than five minutes I had perfect strips of bias tape in my fabric.

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress

Instead of using buttons down the front, I opted to use pearl snaps. I’ve used them before on this shirt, and I just really like the look of them. I have a bit of a confession to make, though. I also partly chose snaps because I needed a break from sewing button holes. I’ve made a lot of projects recently with a lot of buttons. What can I say? This is just one of the perils of loving shirt dresses.

Just like my inspiration dress, I completed my version with a self-belt. I definitely think you need some sort of belt with this dress, to control the extra volume and help define the waist. I made my belt long enough to go completely around my waist twice, for a bit of a wrap look.

Wow, this turned out to be a long post. I promise, I’m wrapping it up here.

As you all know, I’m not a fan of summer, so I’m incredibly happy to be looking ahead to fall. I’m getting my sewing plans in order, and I think you’ll be seeing a lot more pieces, like this dress, which can easily transition from season to season. I can almost feel that crisp fall breeze now, as I toss a black blazer over this dress and head out the door…sigh.

Until next time,

Happy Sewing!

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress

DIY Black and White Midi Shirt Dress by Sartorial Seamstress

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4 comments

    1. Wow…thank you so much!! 🙂 This is a really great, versatile pattern (and super easy to hack)! I’m already thinking about making at least one more version.

  1. The extra-long sash belt is my favorite part! I’d love to see a post about installing pearl snaps someday – I love the look but I worry about smashing them to smitheroos.

    1. I love the sash belt too! I never used to like self belts, but now I can’t get enough of them…haha. I’d be happy to do a post on snaps! I’ve been making a lot of things with snaps lately, so I think I’ve picked up a few pointers. 🙂

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