Crepe de Chine shirtdress

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I’ve a new post up on the Minerva Crafts Bloggers Network up today. It’s my absolute favourite make – ever!!

There were several times throughout this make that I thought it would be a miracle if this turned out wearable. Just goes to show what you can do with a little patience and the pressure that the fabric was gifted in lieu of a blog post. So sometimes you really do have to push on through that comfort zone.

When I received this navy Crepe De Chine Fabric through the post, I admit I did gulp a little and wondered what a challenge I had set myself up for!!!

This is the Simplicity 8084 Mimi G Style Pattern I had in mind.

The shorter version in red.

I’ve never sewn with crepe de chine before. Luckily this was a polyester version at £3.99/m, not its silk version usually priced at over £20/m so I felt a little comforted as I cut into the fabric.
Being a loose fitted garment, I didn’t make a toile, I just chose my size based on my measurements and the finished garment measurements. I went for a size 12 – I’m usually a UK size 10.
In the past I’ve had a few slippery viscose garment fails due to the fabric moving during cutting or stretching out or fraying like mad so I took a couple of precautions.
In order to cope with the material wanting to slip off the table during cutting, having made sure I had enough fabric I cut my fabric into manageable chunks before cutting out individual pieces with my rotary cutter more precisely.
Before I even moved my fabric across the room I stabilised the neck line with iron on stabiliser tape to prevent my neckline stretching out.

Having read someone else’s review of the pattern, I cut 2 yokes instead of one so I could attach the yoke using the burrito method, thus encasing my madly fraying edges inside. This is pretty standard practice when making shirts, so I was surprised that this was not the case here.
One of the very first sewing things you are instructed to do was carry out the 2 buttonholes that would take the drawstring cord later. Unfortunately, it didn’t tell you to cut open the buttonholes at this point which proved a little tricky later!

To increase my challenge this was the weekend we had chosen to redecorate the office/sewing room. So, I relocated my machine to this tiny table in the conservatory in one of the hottest weeks of the year!!!

The burrito method worked well. There is a great tutorial from Closet Case Patterns here.
Each time I sewed a seam I used many, many pins but actually the material didn’t move around much at all. It just frayed madly, so much that the room looked like a blue thread storm had taken place and ripped around the house!
The dress has pockets. I therefore didn’t think I could use French seams which would have been my preference. I’ve since found out you can but I just overlocked my seams in the usual way.
I knew that because I had chosen a solid plain colour that every mistake would show so I took my time. If I was to enjoy wearing this dress I knew it would have to be pretty prefect, with smooth seams and no drag lines on the seams.
I learnt an awful lot on this project. There were many firsts for me including
An internal bias binding casing for the drawstring which worked really well

A hidden button placket- I was very pleased with this

Sleeve tabs to hold the sleeves up

Mandarin collar

It came together beautifully. I spent time hand basting the hem (only actually took 10 minutes) before pressing and sewing it, achieving a perfect finish.

The only thing that I’m not happy with is the sleeve insertion. Try as I might I could not set the sleeves without puckers. I think because the fabric had no stretch or ‘give’ in it at all, I wasn’t able to coax it into shape. Next time I will reduce the sleeve head height. So I have puffy sleeve heads, but at least they match!!
I’ve since found this Mimi G sew-a-long You Tube video for the dress. She makes it look so easy!!
I used gold buttons for the sleeve tabs. These are just plastic ones I picked up quickly from a local shop but I’ll shop around for some metal ones, as I think these will scratch easily.
So thank you Minerva for pushing me beyond my comfort zone. I think this one would have sat in the stash if I had not committed to a blog post in exchange for the fabric!!!

Love, Lucie xx


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