The fall weather here has been perfect for wandering about…sunny, warm and colorful! When the weather is like this, I find it impossible to stay inside. On a recent walk, I found myself in front of my favorite RTW haunt, Anthropologie. What a surprise! I couldn’t help but go inside. As usual, the racks were loaded with inspiration. My favorite ‘find’ was a navy corduroy shirt dress, an A-line with a seventies vibe.
Since I’ve been in a bluesy-denim mood for about a YEAR, the color alone was enough to make me swoon, so I grabbed it and headed to the dressing room. There, I just happened to glance at the price tag. Sticker shock! The price was roughly three times what I expected it to be. How could that be? The dress was made from corduroy! It turns out that my favorite frock wasn’t just any old shirt dress, but one designed by model, Alexa Chung. It’s part of a line by AG jeans of dresses, all with a retro seventies look, so, of course, I fell in love. As fate would have it, the dress didn’t fit at all. My narrow shoulders….my high waist…yada yada. You know the story. (This is one good reason to sew!) Still, I wanted that dress! That moment gave birth to a new obsession – – to create my own version of that cute navy dress. Stealthily, in the privacy of my dressing room, I studied it, making a quick mental list of the details that made that dress so awesome: soft navy corduroy, great a tonal top stitching, french seams, a very ‘seventy’s’ A-line shape, princess seams (who can resist!!), cool silver buttons, two pockets, and long sleeves with cuffs.
Choosing the pattern was a no-brainer. McCalls’ 6124 is a TNT for me, a shirt with princess seams, front bands, sleeves with cuffs, and collar variations.
Fabric? I found the softest corduroy EVER at Mill End, and it was a deep rich navy, so I was off to a good start.The cutting out phase of the project went well, with one exception. A small, orange-ish cat snuck into my sewing room. I’ll just say this. If you choose to make a dress out of dark corduroy, carry a lint brush at all times.
This classic shirt dress went together as expected, and, as usual, I had trouble with the challenge of the collar stand. It’s the curves, the positioning of the collar, the edge stitching – – everything about it pushes my patience. I can never get the collar and the band to line up perfectly. This time though, I used a technique I learned about awhile ago from the blog, Four Square Walls. Instead of attaching the collar to the collar stand, then attaching the whole piece to the neckline, you re-order things a bit. First, you sew one interfaced collar band piece to the neckline. Then, you sew the collar to that, following finally with the other collar band piece, and Voila! Perfection! Here’s the link that describes the process perfectly: four square walls, sewing a collar a different order.
The top stitching was so fun too, especially because I got to use my new best friend, Bernina presser foot 57, my 1/4” Patchwork Seam Foot.
Love that thing. You just line the little seam guide up and you can not go wrong.
Because I might use this dress as a layering piece over jeans (wearing it open?), I worked extra hard to make the inside perfect. So, I did french seams throughout, using a light blue topstitching thread. It took awhile (a three hour movie – – but who’s counting), but I’m sure the effort will pay off at some point (?). I also added self drafted pockets with flaps and top stitched them as well.
The most satisfying detail of all for me was the buttons, little jeans buttons with stars on them!
If you’ve never played around with these things, let me tell you, it is a kick. You get to use a hammer to pound the back on! I like the silver accent of the buttons against the blue corduroy.
What RTW inspirations have you found this fall? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!