When Pattern Review announced they were having a shirtdress contest, I decided to finally make the Nicola shirtdress pattern, which I bought at The Confident Stitch . I’m glad I found it there, because I had a notice on my computer that the Sewaholic site had no security, which I thought really odd. I was attracted to the cute gathered yoke and what looked to be a softly fitted elastic waistline. Plus, I haven’t sewn something with a vintage vibe like this for years.
Which brings me to THIS FABRIC, a lucky find in one of my favorite junk shops in town in Santa Paula. It was all folded up with some old blankets, and I bought about four yards for only five dollars! Stuff like that really makes my life worth living, haha! I had visions of myself in this fabric, sewn up as a shirtdress, on my Roman Holiday batting my eyelashes at a handsome cameriere in the eternal city…. of course, with two daughters in tow!
I’ve read that Sewaholic patterns are designed for a pear shape, so I approached this project with a bit of trepidation, since I am most definitely not a pear shape. There were only a handful of reviews for this dress online, and none by anyone with a similar figure to mine, so I didn’t have much to go on. However, as you will see, this pattern seems to be drafted more for a potato than a pear, as I had a HUGE amount of ease at my waistline, even though I cut the pattern a size smaller than recommended for my measurements! And I am hardly small waisted for my size. I was not a happy sewist. If it had not been for this fabric, I would have totally given up on this project.
I made two FBA’s on two separate muslin bodices. In the first, I just made a bust dart, but in the second version I pivoted the dart closed and added the fullness to the gathering at the yoke and the waistline width which was going to be cinched in with elastic. I decided there was way too much fullness in the version with the drafted out bust dart, so I decided to make the first bodice with the bust dart. Of course, I didn’t notice the problem of the huge waistline when sewing my muslin bodice, because I was so focused on getting the perfect bust fit, and assumed the elastic waist would take care of the width I saw there in the waist. But as you can imagine, a 1/4 inch wide piece of elastic was not about to hold up all the fabric at the waist of the bodice plus a wide A line skirt with metal buttons, which I had to actually slash and spread to make more narrow, since the pattern would not fit on my vintage 41 inch wide fabric if I left it as flared as it was. Yes, you can probably start to see how frustrating this project was. And I didn’t notice until my facing and buttonholes were sewn in and under-stitched, since the elastic was almost the last thing to go in. I tried on my new dress envisioning myself as a modern day Sophia Lauren in a chic vestita, and instead found myself gazing at a forlorn and ill fitting housedress, a droopy, sad creation which was being pulled down by the sheer weight of the skirt because of the lack of support at the waist.. utterly sad… if ever there was time for a waist stay… and to top it off the bodice was also too long, and it drooped enormously below my waistline in the front, but that was probably the fault of my Full Bust Adjustment. I almost cried. So when I drafted out the fullness of the bodice with the darts, I also shortened the length by over an inch. Since I had to shorten the waistline it messed up the placement of my buttons there and I was left with a large gap so I added an extra button at the waist which is a little too close to the others.
In the end, I came out with a dress I now really like…… but….. I had to take apart the whole dress to get rid of over ten inches of ease by adding darts to the front and back and taking in the waistline. And I also had to bring in the side seams of the skirt pieces by 5 inches on each side so they would match to my new altered bodice.
And then I had to somehow shorten the facing by unpicking it a few inches where I shortened the bodice at the waist, cutting through the facing and overlapping the pieces and then stitching it back together by hand. A real Frankenstein job! It was still a bit loose after all that, so I the added the required 1/4 inch elastic. So I can’t say I will ever try another Sewaholic pattern again after this fiasco. So while I now love this dress it was much to hard to fit, so no, I don’t think it’s a very good pattern. Too much work!