Triumphant Return: Gertie Shirtwaist Dress


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I’m back!  I had to take a break from blogging due to some health issues.  But I’m on the mend now and expect to start blogging more often.  I have lots of projects from the last few months to blog about.  Starting with this beauty!

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The Gertie Shirtwaist Dress
It took me three muslins to get the fit of this dress right, but it was well worth the effort. I really love it!

Pattern: Shirtwaist Dress from Gertie’s Book for Better Sewing

Fabric: Cotton + Steel cotton lawn

– shortened the back bodice by 2 inches
– shortened the front bodice by 1 inch
– narrowed the back width by 3 inches
– 1 inch narrow shoulder adjustment on the front bodice
– lowered the bodice darts
– took out 3/4 inch under the arm and graded to normal seam at waist
– redrafted sleeve (due to narrow shoulder adjustment)

This is by far the most fitting adjustments I’ve done on a pattern. I can sometimes get away with not doing a FBA (full bust adjustment) but I think with this pattern I should have cut a smaller size and done the FBA which probably would have avoided the need to do the shoulder adjustment.


This pattern has some really cute details.  I love the sleeve cuffs.

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I also love the shirring at the back waist.  This was my first time trying this technique.  And it makes this dress feel like pajamas they are so comfortable.

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Last but not least, I made bound buttonholes:

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I debated over whether to use navy blue buttons or pink.

I really love this dress, and will definitely be making this pattern again!


Peony Dress #2 – Polka Dots


This is the second completed version of the peony dress. I made another one in fuschia cotton pique which I worked on at Gertie’s Sewing Retreat, but since I was running out of that fabric, I decided to try to perfect the fit using this polka dot cotton twill. I will finish the pink one soon.

Fabric: Polka dot cotton twill from Fabricville

Pattern: Colette Peony Dress

Alterations: Lowered darts on front bodice. Pinched out length in mid bodice back. Due to odd length of darts in the back we separated the back pieces so the darts were replaced with a new seam. I think we also extended the armholes so they weren’t cutting into the bodice as much.

You are probably wondering who “we” is. Well, I’ve mentioned Gertie’s Sewing Retreat a number of times. Gertie is a sewing blogger, book author, pattern designer and sewer extraordinaire! I went to her first ever sewing retreat in her home town, Beacon, NY. You can read Gertie’s description of it here. It was so much fun! Sewing can be such a solitary hobby. It was so nice to spend a weekend with a group of women are as passionate about sewing as I am.

I brought 5 different muslins to the retreat. Gertie, and her lovely assistant Fleur, helped me adjust the fit. This was the garment I spent the most time on. As you can see, the fit is much better than the first dress. It no longer looks like a cowl neck.

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Also, the back is way less baggy.

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So much better!

These photos were taken on the rooftop of the Seaport Farmer’s Market.

Peony Dress #1


Pattern:  Colette Peony Dress

Fabric:  Suiting material from Fabricville discount section (not sure on the fiber content)

Alterations:  Cut a size 10 in the bodice, but graded to a 12 in the waist and 14 in the hips.  There was a lot of gaping in the back neck so I took it in a few inches at the center back seam (more on this below).  I also made pleats at the front rather than the little gathers called for in the pattern.

I adore this dress!  I made it several months ago and I probably wear it to work every other week.  I love the simple silhouette.  It’s the kind of dress you can make over and over again.  And depending on the fabric, it is a dress that can easily be office appropriate. 

This is my first muslin of this dress.  And as much as I love it, there are some problems with the fit.  First, the darts are too high.  Darts are used to create shaping.  As a general rule, bust darts should end approximately 1 inch from the apex of the bust. 


Both the side darts and the darts coming up from the waist are about an inch too high.  That’s an easy enough fix.  More difficult to fix is the problem with the neckline.  This dress is supposed to have a boatneck.  As you can see, it turned out more like a cowl neck on me. 


I think the front started buckling because of the adjustment I made at the back.  The adjustment I made to the back didn’t really fix the problem.  It is still baggy (but not nearly as bad as it was before):


My next post is going to feature my second attempt at this dress.  It is much better!

Bow-Tied Blouse #2 – Peter Pan Collar Variation


Pattern:  Gertie’s book – Bow-Tied Blouse – Peter Pan Collar Variation

Fabric:  Green shirting cotton. I’m embarrassed to admit this is leftover from a dress I made in the late 90’s!  (It was a Calvin Klein shirt dress)

Alterations:  Graded up in the waist and hips and added an extra button.

This is the second version of the Bow-Tied Blouse (obviously minus the bow tie).  This was the first time I drafted my own peter pan collar (following the directions in Gertie’s book).  I am very pleased with the result.


After reviewing my first post, my official blog photographer (my work colleague Robyn) said we needed a better photo of the French dart.  Check it out:


I really like this pattern.  I think I’ve got the fit almost perfect… but after looking at the photos for this post I realized that there is a bit of excess fabric in the back.  This seems to be a common fitting issue for me.  I must be short waisted. 


You can really see the baggy back issue in this one:


I will adjust for this in future versions of this top.  I would like to make this top in a liberty print.  And the bow-tied version with some of the double knit fabric I bought on my trip to NYC.  





Bow-Tied Blouse #1

I started a sewing blog!  After meeting so many wonderful sewing bloggers at Gertie’s sewing retreat, I decided it was time.  So here goes.

The first post is dedicated to the sweet Bow-Tied Blouse from Gertie’s book.  This is my muslin, which despite not fitting perfectly, I was still able to tweak enough to wear. 


I love it!  This is the first time I’ve sewn French darts (darts that start from the waist).  I really like them. 

But the best feature of this blouse is the buttons up the back. 


I didn’t have enough of this fabric left to cut it out properly so the back is cut on the cross-grain. 

Despite being happy enough with the fit to wear this blouse, I’m going to make it slightly bigger next time.  I’m already working on the next one.  Stay tuned!