Simplicity 1880 Shirt Dress Header Image

Liberty Shirt Dress | Simplicity 1880

June 19, 2013 · 57 comments

I love shirt dresses! I think the first one I fell in love with was Sandy’s peach one in Grease when I was a little girl! The 8 year old me couldn’t comprehend her makeover- why on earth would she trade the pretty pastel dresses for the shiny black lycra and poodle hair?! Hehe!

Being a lover of sewing with vintage patterns I already own a couple of vintage shirt dress patterns. One of which I have made up in a blue gingham and one I am yet to try but am very excited about! So I realllllly didn’t need Simplicity 1880 but there were so many cute variations with the pattern and I managed to convince myself into the purchase based on these and the slightly more 40s charm it had going on! I really can talk myself into pretty much anything when it comes to the acquisition of sewing or knitting supplies!

I decided to make up a toile of the version with little puffy sleeves first. I followed my measurements from the back of the envelope and the pattern came up as a pretty good fit so I would definitely say go with your measurements on this one.

Libert Shirt Dress

In terms of adjustments I did have to raise the armscyes a couple of cm but that’s a totally standard alteration for me. The armscyes of commercial patterns and ready to wear dresses are often cut too low for me, this results in massively restricted arm movement which I can’t stand!

I loved the flippy , flutey skirt from the pattern but I decided I wanted a gathered skirt for this version so I just did a straightforward gathered rectangle 2.5 times the waist measurement of the dress.

Instead of the pleats on the bodice I actually stitched the pleats for 5 cm up from the waist to make them release pleats instead as this created less of a poofy silhouette. I have often done the same with vintage patterns .

Having recently made Deer and Doe’s Reglisse dress and loving its super comfy elasticated waist I decided to experiment with a bit of elastication on the back waist. I didn’t put the pleats in the back bodice and instead once I had attached the skirt I stitched 18cm of elastic onto the back waist seam allowance using a 3 step zigzag. This drew in the back waist nicely and I’m pretty pleased at how it turned out.

Simplicity 1880 shirt dress

The fabric is a discontinued Liberty print that I just love love love love love!  I lined the skirt with a white cotton lawn as tana lawn is very fine and as a result a little see through without a lining.

Construction wise I used all my regular finishes. I used french seams, lined my yoke, bound my armscyes and did little hand worked buttonholes. As this dress has a front facing bound buttonholes would have worked equally well here. I used Gutermann silk buttonhole twist for the buttonholes which is pretty hard to come by these days but I buy mine online from Bernstein and Banleys .

liberty-shirt-dress-construction

I would definitely recommend this pattern if you want a vintage style shirt dress! I have already adapted the pattern to be a sleeveless style as I have always wanted to make a sleeveless shirt dress a la Betty Draper. 

Simplicity 1880 Liberty Shirt Dress

front of liberty shirt dress

I am also looking forward to making one up with the longer sleeves for the cooler seasons.

Have you tried Simplicity 1880 or made up a different shirt dress recently?

Thanks for reading!

P.S. if anyone’s getting deja vu looking at this I had this dress on in my recent video!

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Ginger June 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm

This is too sweet and so you! Love it!
Ginger recently posted…Sewing for My Sis: Megan Nielsen’s Kelly Skirt!My Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 19, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Thanks lovely! :)
amelialowden recently posted…Video Tutorial: How to make bias bindingMy Profile

Reply

Aleksandra June 19, 2013 at 11:40 pm

I love the fabric and your aesthetic in general. Very pretty. :)

Did adding the elastic mean you didn’t need to use a zipper? Or is it just a tiny bit for extra ease?
Aleksandra recently posted…Things I’ve Sewn Lately: TiramisuMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 20, 2013 at 12:07 am

Aw thank you!
I still used a zipper as I didn’t actually add any extra size to the dress I just used the elastic instead of the back waist darts so its still too fitted to escape the zip! :(
Makes it very comfy to wear tho! :)
amelialowden recently posted…Video Tutorial: How to make bias bindingMy Profile

Reply

Katy June 20, 2013 at 12:19 am

Lovely dress! I’ve just bought the Colette Hawthorn pattern, which will be my first shirt dress!
Katy recently posted…Update … and High Street CopycatsMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 20, 2013 at 12:27 am

Awww I LOVE the Hawthorn pattern! I have reserved it from SewBox as it’s not in stock yet, it’s just so pretty and graceful isn’t it! Look forward to seeing yours Katy! :)
amelialowden recently posted…Video Tutorial: How to make bias bindingMy Profile

Reply

Sewhopeful June 20, 2013 at 4:25 am

Adorable. Love the fabric. I especially like how you finished the back waist. I made this in a floral also and it’s one of my most worn dresses in summer. I think there is a grain line error on the skirt pieces though as it drapes very oddly around the centre front seam – I ended up tapering that part off to make it sit better. I love the pattern though and really love your take on it.
Sewhopeful recently posted…Musings: I Stood Yesterday I Can Stand Today by Dorothy DixMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Ah thank you! Yep I noticed a few people saying that the original skirt pattern drapes oddly. I think if I make this up with the original non- gathered style skirt I will just draft my own semi- circular skirt.Thanks for the heads up!
I think I’ll be wearing this a lot too! :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Nicole June 20, 2013 at 4:44 am

pretty pretty pretty! I’m so impressed you sewed the buttonholes by hand, that would take some patience :-)

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Aw thanks Nicole! Yep they are a little time consuming but I love a bit of hand work!:)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Frances June 20, 2013 at 6:54 am

You are so lucky to have Liberty Prints so available to you. This is such a pretty pattern, I am surprised they would discontinue it. Your dress is darling and so summery. You did a beautiful job.

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Thanks France! Yes I am very lucky in that respect, I love Liberty lawn for summer projects!
And yep it always surprises me when they discontinue one of their really pretty classics.
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Jane June 20, 2013 at 7:02 am

Pretty dress. You must tell us how to make your hand bound button holes
Jane recently posted…PelicansMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Yep I have a fantastic vintage dressmaking book from something like 1947 and the instructions for hand-worked buttonholes in it are fantastic. I will have to do a post/ tutorial on them. They give such a lovely finish! :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Fiona June 20, 2013 at 7:25 am

Beautiful! I love your adaptions, especially the elastic acted back and the fabric is perfect on you!
Fiona recently posted…Liberty Lawn Tiny Pocket TankMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Thanks Fiona! :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Angela June 20, 2013 at 7:49 am

Thank you so much for sharing all your skills. Can I be cheeky and pick your brains about the lining? Do you attach it at the bottom, or let it hang as two separate skirts, I wasnt sure if the picture was showing it sewn together? Maybe you could do a tutorial on how to line at some future point (no pressure!!)

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Hi Angela! That’s not cheeky at all- of course you can pick my brains! I’m sorry this part was a bit unclear- the picture you can see is actually the bodice front facing. I didn’t use iron-on interfacing I just used white cotton and so I stitched it onto the grown on facing of the dress and turned it under (I will have to show this is another post as it’s tricky to describe!)
As for the lining it is just attached at the waist and hangs freely inside the dress. I attached it to the bodice at the same time as the main skirt and so the bodice is sandwiched between the skirt and the skirt lining if that makes sense? Next time I do this I will think ahead and take pictures during construction to include in a post with more details but I hope that brief description clarified things a little bit! :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Angela June 26, 2013 at 8:53 am

Thanks for clarifying. All your finishes are so beautifully neat. I bow to your greatness!

Reply

Louise June 20, 2013 at 8:04 am

That’s sooo cute. I am trying to decide which shirt dress to make. I’ve been collecting pins and being very indecisive. I was thinking of a button front Reglisse but now with Colette’s Hawthorn I’m just not sure…. maybe I just need two!!
Louise recently posted…A ‘Miette’ of knittingMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Yep I’d say you probably need both of those! Hehe! I love Reglisse and Hawthorn is just so so pretty!!! :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Tara June 20, 2013 at 10:45 am

Oh wow I LOVE this – I’m a big liberty fan and a big fan of short dresses so this is a big hit with me!

Love the elastic idea – a little bit of room to manoeuvre is always a good thing, it allows more leeway for cake eating!

Some details on how you did that (how did you decide on 28 cm of elastic – did you just eyeball it?) would be smashing.

Hope we get some sunshine so you actually get some wear out of this!

x
Tara recently posted…Getting down with Me-Made-MayMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Hi Tara! Ah thanks! Yep I’m with you on both- can’t go too far wrong with Liberty print or a shirt dress!
With the elastic I just eyeballed the kind of amount I thought I would need and safety pinned that to the seam where it would ultimately be attached. Then I tried it on to check it was drawing things in the right amount before un-pinning it and stitching it down. I overestimated how much I would need so it was definitely worth pinning and trying first!
It was actually 18cm rather than 28 tho! :)
Hope that helps!
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Jane June 20, 2013 at 11:04 am

I was admiring this on you on the video tutorial you posted. It’s beautiful.

Perhaps you could do a tutorial on armscye adjustments as I have the same problem with patterns, but am not sure how to go about making alterations to the pattern.

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Thanks Jane!
I would be more than happy to do a tutorial on that as it’s such a valuable adjustment to do if you need it- makes life so much more comfortable if one can move one’s arms around freely! Hehe!
I have added it to my upcoming tutorials list :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Gail June 20, 2013 at 11:31 am

This is adorable! The fabric is a perfect match for the shape of the dress.

I’m really curious about two things you did with the armscye, and wonder if you would share further? I’m intrigued by the bit about raising the armscye, as I often have constricted upper arms and have been trying to solve that problem (unsuccessfully) by doing a broad back adjustment. It never would have occurred to me to raise the armscye, and I haven’t ever heard of this anywhere else!

And binding the armscye? Sounds like a lovely, clean finish. Could we get a picture of that?

Hope you don’t mind me asking for clarification – it’s just that you are able to explain things in a way that really makes sense to me! I’ve learned a lot just in the short time I’ve been reading your blog!
Gail recently posted…White :: Turquoise :: CoralMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Hi Gail!
Of course! Yep if you are finding your arms are restricted in garments then raising the armscye could definitely be worth trying. If the armscye is too low then the sleeve sort of pins your arm down to your side slightly. It’s an incredibly simple alteration, you just need to continue the side seam up beyond the current UAP (underarm point) I usually need to raise the height by around 1.5 to 2cm. The you need to measure the new armscye, calculate how much smaller it is than the original and remove this amount from the sleeve. I am going to add a tutorial on this very soon as a couple of other readers have also shown an interest in this adjustment :)
I can absolutely add some pics of the bound sleeve seams- I will take some and do an edit to the post :)
I will also be covering how too add bias binding in general in my next video tutorial.
Hope that helps!
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Gail June 24, 2013 at 5:10 pm

You’re the best, Ami! Thank you so much! I’m really looking forward to all these posts!
Gail recently posted…My JammiesMy Profile

Reply

Jo June 20, 2013 at 11:41 am

Hi, I’m new to sewing and have just discovered your blog, I love it and I’ve learnt so much from it already. I love this dress and it is definitely on my list for when I become more confident and competent (hopefully not too long now!). One general question (probably a silly one) I have about material is I read about people just buying up material as and when they see it without having a pattern in mind, how much would you buy, a meter, 2? I see lots of material on my wanderings but I never know how much I should go for – I did say it was a silly one! Thanks

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Hi Jo! Thanks for your lovely comment, I am so pleased to hear that you are finding the blog helpful!
That’s not a silly question at all! 2 metres is generally enough to make a knee length dress of most styles so if I’m really not sure what I would make I always tend to get 2 to keep my options relatively open. However, if the fabric looks like it will lend itself to a dress with a circle skirt or if you like a full length dresses then you will want to get 3 to accommodate those styles.
A metre would be enough for a sleeveless blouse or a straight or A-line skirt of roughly knee length.
For a long sleeve blouse or a blouse with any sleeves really I’d go for at least 1.5m.
If the fabric isn’t too expensive and you really like it then maybe consider buying a bit more than you think you will need to avoid disappointment. There’s always something you can do with scraps!:)
Hope that helps a bit! Happy sewing :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Jo June 24, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Thanks so much Ami, this is so helpful, exactly what I wanted to know, can’t wait to go shopping now!!

Reply

Helen June 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I absolutely love this. I have found I have a growing desire to make a shirt dress recently, since I saw Zooey Deschanel in one on New Girl, and your version is pretty close. Love the elastic detail at the back. Nice touch.
Helen recently posted…Liebster, again!My Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Thanks Helen! Ah I love her style so much! So girly and quirky!
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Amy June 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm

OMFG this is the most adorable outfit and you are so stinkin’ cute in it! I love it so much <3
Amy recently posted…McCall’s Fashion Star M6707 – Misses’ PantsMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Ah thanks Amy!! That’s so nice :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Sam June 20, 2013 at 5:36 pm

This looks so pretty on you. Shirtdresses don’t really suit me, but I love them on other people and this one is perfect.

Your attention to detail and finishing is beautiful.
Sam recently posted…Harder than it should beMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Aw thanks Sam!
Maybe you just haven’t found the right shirt dress yet? How about the new Colette Hawthorn pattern? It’s so elegant and pretty! :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Sam June 25, 2013 at 8:50 am

Hawthorn is very pretty, and I’m also drawn to the new Butterick 5920, I love the collar on that one.
Sam recently posted…Musings on Me Made MayMy Profile

Reply

Lucysb June 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm

This looks lovely. Your post has really made me think about stopping before I start a project to think about how I really want it to look, usually I only alter one element (aside from the fit) Great ideas. X

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm
Lynne June 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Your dress is gorgeous! I love the fabric, the sleeves and the gathered skirt.

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Thanks Lynne! :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

mokosha June 23, 2013 at 9:37 am

such a pretty little dress that is! i’m mad about shirt dresses, one can never have too many of those :)

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I agree- you can never have too many shirt dresses or shoes! Hehe! :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Rachel June 23, 2013 at 10:15 am

This is adorable. Linked here from wesewretro and there are so many beautiful things to see!
Rachel recently posted…PREMIERE: the daenerys dressMy Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Aw thanks Rachel! WeSewRetro is such a fab site isn’t it! :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Sassy T June 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Extremely pretty! The fabric is gorgeous.

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Ah thanks! Yep you can’t beat Liberty lawn for floral prints! :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Melody June 24, 2013 at 8:26 am

Why are you so so so so so adorable?! It hurts my teeth, seeing you be so sweet!

I love the dress, it looks like you were born to wear it!
Melody recently posted…Goodbye Google Reader Giveaway!My Profile

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Ahh thanks so much Melody- sorry about the teeth tho! Haha!! ;)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Amy June 24, 2013 at 8:57 am

Super excited to see this. I’m currently trying to find fabric to make a version of this pattern. Yours looks lovely! Slightly concerned I might need to do a full lining if i find the fabric I’m after but oh well, its all an adventure!

Reply

amelialowden June 24, 2013 at 5:31 pm

It’s such a nice pattern to make up! :) Maybe you could wear a slip if the fabric ends up looking too sheer? :)
amelialowden recently posted…The amazing Amazings! And a giveaway for all you lovely readers! My Profile

Reply

Salma June 24, 2013 at 9:56 pm

This is a gorgeous dress! I absolutely love the cut and print!

Reply

milena June 27, 2013 at 2:40 am

This is beyond cute. I love the print and the dress looks breezy and comfy.
milena recently posted…I Tried My Hand at RefashioningMy Profile

Reply

Bec Stitches June 28, 2013 at 11:21 pm

That is adorable, the fabric is too cute!!
Bec Stitches recently posted…ElisalexesMy Profile

Reply

Kacie July 2, 2013 at 3:30 am

1. I can’t get enough of your floaty, feminine, floral dresses. They’re incredible. 2. The elastic in the back is such a fantastic touch! I really want to try that! 3. HAND WORKED BUTTONHOLES? You never cease to amaze me!
Kacie recently posted…Watercolor ElisalexMy Profile

Reply

Amy July 21, 2013 at 12:42 pm

The dress is gorgeous and so is your arm chair! Is it from ikea? If so what cover is it because I have Never seen that one before.

Thanks,

Amy.

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: