Winter Shirtdress

I’m so close to being done with my quilted jacket, but not quite. In the meantime, I have something a little less exuberant to share – actually this is another farewell tour, so say hello & goodbye to my would-be-could-be-but-isn’t go-to winter shirtdress.

After two consecutive winters of wearing this zero times, it’s time to say goodbye (I’ve yet to successfully integrate a dress into my casual wardrobe). This particular experiment hails from 2017 and is mostly a Deer & Doe Melilot, with guest star, the fabled but rarely seen Grainline Archer bum ruffle. I alternate between thinking that ruffle is pretty unappealing and craaaving a bum ruffle Archer shirt; it’s the honey mustard pretzel bites of shirt views.

The fabric is brushed cotton, 4 yards of Kaufman Grizzly Plaid cotton to be precise. It’s soft but less bulky than their Shetland flannel. 2017 Lia was apparently pretty apprehensive about fabric thickness though, since a lot of my decisions appear to have been made to reduce bulk, unfortunately sometimes at the expense of quality/longevity. I was also living that new-serger life, which contributed.

The inner collar stand has a serged bottom edge, which is surprisingly not too obvious. I pictured this being worn done all the way up the neck, and it is the way it looks best, but I really put baby in a corner, style-wise, there. Cover your collarbones or reveal your lazy serging, hussy! The collar is closed by a silver ring snap, and there’s a second snap about 3 inches below that one. And for the rest of the placket…nothin’. It’s funny for me to revisit old projects; I’ve become a sewing completist since then. I would have placed snaps all along the placket nowadays, whether or not I planned to use them.

This isn’t the first popover placket I’ve bungled, but it’s among the worst! Since the Melilot has a full placket I would have followed an online tutorial; I don’t remember which, but this nice, recent CC one makes it clear that it’s just a sleeve placket writ large. I’m not sure how I made it so complicated, but line up it does not.

My other bulk-reduction moment is in the sleeves – I wanted to wear this with a rolled cuff, and again didn’t leave any other choice, since the sleeves are finished with scrap cotton cuffs. Serged on the outside, no less.

I like the visual balance of the cuff but the placement is just wrong. I thought a full-length sleeve would be overwhelming on a dress, but I judged the shortened sleeve length incorrectly, so it’s not very comfortable; the cuffs sit over my elbows, so I’m always either tugging them down or feeling them ride up.

The interior seams are serged as well, except the hem, which I finished with bias tape. I like the extravagantly swoopy Melilot shirt hem and I transferred it downwards. That does make the sides pretty short!

Plaid matching fell by the wayside as I adjusted this dress. Originally I lengthened the Melilot shirt (size 42) by 11” and added extra space for my hips. I used the shape of the Melilot back, but divided at the height placement and along the curve of the Archer bum ruffle seam. The lower half is also mostly Melilot, with the upper edge shape and width of the bum ruffle. This turned out to be a series of nopes. I had to shorten the top back to raise the ruffle by 1.5” to make it even barely a top-bum rather than a mid-bum ruffle, remove the added volume from the hips (in a word: saddlebags), and shorten the dress overall by 4.5”.

The finished dress isn’t terrible. It’s not the most thoughtfully constructed but it’s warm; the details are sloppy, but the silhouette isn’t bad. But I just don’t wear it! I can blame the usual suspects; the length, the fact that it’s a dress at all, lack of pride in the finishing. I think this candid more or less sums it up.

 And I also think it’s just a bit blah! I could see something like this working in a warm, colorful flannel, but the last thing I reach for in winter is top-to-toe grey.

Okay, now picture this with me instead: a winter shirt, maybe needlecord, deep jade or dark teal, shiny buttons…and a bum ruffle?! Maybe someday!  

Pattern: Deer & Doe Melilot (mostly)

Pattern cost: $10 (my first Melilot, weirdly!)

Size: 42, extended 6.5”

Supplies: 4 yards Kaufman Grizzly Plaid cotton, Mercer’s Fabric, $28.80; snaps, Michael’s, $3.00; thread from stash

Total time: 10.75 hours

Total cost: $41.80

12 thoughts on “Winter Shirtdress

  1. Bye shirtdress! This post is great. I feel like most things I read about people’s makes are always the fresh and new exciting make but this I-don’t-like-this-it’s-got-to-go-typed post is apparently exactly what I need in my life.

    Hope you’re able to find a dress for your wardrobe! I haven’t sewn many casual dresses either but I’m currently in my post-hip-surgery state, where I can’t bend enough to put pants on by myself and I’m really regretting not having any casual dresses in my wardrobe.

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    1. Thanks so much! I actually like writing them – if nothing else it saves me from regret when I give stuff away (“But I loved that dress! Oh wait no I didn’t”). Is your Cielo working out? It looked so elegant! I hope recovery goes swiftly. 🙂

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      1. Yes! I have a lot of makes I never wear that I should probably retire and I will definitely have to write farewells for. I ended up turning my Cielo into a top because the dress length was looking a little PJ-y for me. I do have another Cielo planned but that will have to wait till I have recovered enough to crawl on the floor to cut things out.

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    1. Ha, if I loved it I would overlook every flaw, no fear! The Melilot is a size 42 but because of the gathered back it’s got more space through the hips than it otherwise would.

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  2. Bum ruffle! Now I know what it is that bothers me about trousers with elastic at the back waist: there’s a bum ruffle! And I don’t do ruffles!

    The dress looks great on you but if it doesn’t feel right then it needs to go. I might have to do a post like this next time I get rid of a me made…

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    1. I love a good reckoning! I also love reading reviews of the honeymoon phase of a new piece of clothing! It’s possible I just like sewing blogs, no matter what… 😂

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      1. Sewing blogs rule! Long may they continue. Instagram may be a threat, but I reckon it only makes us stubborn bloggers stronger 💪🏻

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