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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 .


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!

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