Tartan shift dress

Hello everyone

For the past couple of weeks I have been slowly making a shift dress. I wanted something for the winter that I could use to layer up but still look smart. I thought a shift dress would be perfect as it could be worn with tights or leggings and I could wear a long sleeved top underneath to keep me warm on those frosty days. 

Originally I wanted to make the dress from a wool based fabric. Unfortunately though I couldn't find anything I liked in my local fabric shop and online is always a bit risky as you can't feel the texture before you buy. I also didn't want something that felt rough or itchy and I was specifically looking for a tartan fabric. 

My final choice was a tartan polyester with a small percentage of spandex for stretch, although it isn't as warm as wool I can still wear something underneath to make up for it.

I used a pattern that came free with my sewing magazine subscription so I saved a few pennies there! I used version B pictured above right for the design, the simpler the better. 

The dress has 2 darts on each side, one long dart vertically on each side and one shorter bust dart on each side. I began by making a toile of the dress using calico to check the fit. However I soon realised the process was going to be more complicated than I had anticipated. There was lots of gaping fabric at the lower back and under the bust.  

After looking online for a solution I decided I would pinch out the excess fabric on the toile and transfer the adapted dress to the pattern. Doing this successfully was a challenge to say the least! I have taken some pictures to show the process I followed to change the pattern which you can see below. 

step one




I needed to make the excess fabric in the middle of the front pattern piece and middle of the back pattern piece disappear . To do this I cut a horizontal line across the waistline almost to the edge of the paper. The bit of paper left attached would become the pivoting point located on the side seam.

step two

After pinching out the excess fabric on the toile I measured how much fabric I needed to lose. To do this I measured the depth of the biggest section of the pinch/wedge and doubled it. This is because the pinched fabric is folded. I then took this measurement and pivoted the pattern piece until it overlapped by the measurement I needed to be taken out.

step three




As you can see on the left, by pivoting the pattern piece the center back seam has been left crooked. To put this right I re-drew the center back seam from the top point to the hemline.

Because I was taking out such a large amount, the waist measurement had become a lot bigger. To put this right I calculated a bigger dart width on the sides to pull the fabric back in.

Some more views of the dress

I hope you like the dress and the fabric. My mission is now to find the perfect wool so that I can make a warmer version of this dress. I'll add that to my list of things to make!

Until next time 

Michelle x