Shift Work

Shifty, a Colette Laurel shift dress by Saké PuppetsBecause I’ve been eating so many macarons, I needed a dress with a little ease. I’m only half joking.

I was given a wool shift dress last year and love it. The boxy shape isn’t one I would have selected for myself, but it turns out a simple shift is flattering if done right. I decided to make a summer version using the Colette Laurel pattern. But I’m not sure I did it right.

stripey marshmallow?I made a muslin and thought I was happy, and then finished the final garment in stripes and am solidly on the fence about it. I feel like a stripey marshmallow. Or like I’m wearing jail pajamas. Or, from far away, that I look sort of naked.Naked jail pajamasIn hindsight, selecting fabric the same color as your skin tone is not a great idea, regardless of how much you love stripes.

There were a few wins with this project, however. It was my first time installing an invisible zipper, and my first time matching stripes. Victory is mine!Matched stripes and an invisible zipper win!I used self-made bias and lined the dress in really soft natural cotton lawn. The lining was more expensive than the striped linen. Maybe I should wear the dress inside out?shifts, by Saké PuppetsI think some of my ambivalence about the dress comes from the extra fabric in the back. It doesn’t hang the way a shift dress ought to hang. This pattern is for a dress with sleeves, and I thought I could simply leave the sleeves off and voila — sleeveless! Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe I could take it in a bit more at the back darts? Anyone have advice? I don’t own a serger and dislike raw edges, so I finished the sides with a flat felled seam and taking the sides in is not an easy option.

I think I’ll wear the dress again, maybe with tights and heels and a cardigan and a trench coat. If anything, this project was a good exercise in fabric selection and learning to really examine the fit of a muslin before forging ahead. I think learning to sew your own clothing takes a lot of experience gained from trial-and-error. Maybe this dress is just meant to help me log those hours.

Anyone else ever feel this way?

11 thoughts on “Shift Work

  1. It looks nice and comfortable. You have such a great shape, how about a fun bright belt? I’m no fashion expert ( just ask Sara), so just an idea.

    • I thought a belt might be an option. I’ve seen photos of other people who have belted it, and now I wonder if it might be because they had the same lukewarm reaction to the way it fits?

      • I do agree with the other comments that a sign of a pro is matching stripes!!! I always feared those invisible zippers too. Go Ang!

  2. I love all the details – the bias binding and the red and blue stripes at the bottom. It looks really comfortable and easy to wear, but I know what you mean about feeling kind of naked in a loose dress – maybe some more “robust” underwear might overcome part of that feeling (something like shorts) – tights and a trench would also do the trick, but would kind of defeat the purpose of a cool summer dress!

    • Thanks! I think a good shift dress is nice and short, and perhaps I’m not used to letting so much skin out in the open! I burn easily so I’m always covered up in the summer. I actually think this dress might transition well into Fall, which wasn’t the plan but definitely a nice perk!

  3. It’s a very nice and versatile dress: you can easily wear it all year long adding seasonal accessories! On my opinion, boots and a belt would look great! I love the photo background too : ) The extra fabric in back comes from swayback. Here you can read about all possible alterations for this issue.

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