2-in-1 Sewalong: Inspiring Shirt Dresses

Shirt dresses are such a classic piece to have in your wardrobe and I think that you’ll find Simplicity 1880 has really good bones especially if this is your first shirt dress. Shirt dresses or Shirt waists refer to a dress with a shirt-like top (meaning menswear) that ended at the waist and broke into a skirt. According to the Wikipedia, this fashion started as a an actual skirt and shirt ensemble.

So it goes without saying that this style has definitely withstood the test of time – dontcha think? For today’s inspiration, I’ve included a couple of our own blogging community members as they’ve taken the style and run with it. It’s so fun to see a style we’re craving on someone with whom we’re somewhat familiar – at least I feel that way!

Doesn’t Casey wear a shirtdress well? She styled this particular one in many different ways, but I do believe this one is my favorite! I love the light blue with the dash of red.

I could cry, I think this blue shirtwaist is so cute! And look how retro with those pointy little kitten heels and collar and everything!

Lauren made up a delightful shirt dress not too long ago! It’s pretty cute right? I love the belt accent and the fabric used! Spot on fit too!

I might be crazy, but I’m contemplating a white linen for my shirt dress (no, I still haven’t decided on the fabric yet!) Look have cute this one is? I love it! I’m picturing Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun – that fabulous white dress she wore.

Gingham anyone? So fabulously retro, don’t you think? I’m loving this paired with the green shoes.

Simplicity 1880 has a certain 1940s/1970s air about it, especially because of the gathering at the yoke and waistline – a big reason I adore the technical drawing! Here’s a sewing pattern pic from the 40s showing that exact detail of the gather/pleat at the shoulder.

Another example of that great soft gathering at the shoulder line – plus it’s a devilish powder blue! Love!

Have you guys seen the old movie Chinatown? You should, just to see the brilliant costuming of Faye Dunaway. Here’s a line drawing of one of her costumes – a classic shirt waist. Isn’t that pleat in the back just fab?

Another darling classic from Debi! Don’t you just love the fabric pick for her shirtwaist? She looks positively brilliant!

You can click on any of the images above for the link to where I got the image. Do you have any inspiring shirt dress images you would like to share? Leave a link below in the comments! I would love to see more shirt dress inspiration. What do you say? Isn’t having a shirt dress like a positively must-have piece in your wardrobe? My own is incredibly easy to wear and every single time I wear it, I get a ton of compliments – a ton! Are you making the shirt dress? What are you thinking for fabric?


  • Julie - Those are some great examples! Mine is going to be most similar to your denim version — chambray with a faint pinstripe. It’s supposed to arrive today (you were right about the super fast west coast shipping from LowPriceFabric.com). Here’s my plan: http://www.juliemmason.com/2012/06/shirt-wrap-dress-sewalong/ I’ve never made a shirtdress or any kind of collar, so I hope I can pull it off!ReplyCancel

  • Emma - What’s crazy about linen? I’m actually making a summer shirt dress myself (early 1940s pattern), as soon as I have a breather (life’s kind of super crazy right now and I have about 30 minutes per day break to read blogs and relax) and finish a quick linen skirt for the summer. My fabric is a beige-ish cream-coloured 55% silk, 45 linen that I got on sale for about €3 per metre. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I was thinking more the crazy about white – I just know I’m bound to spill something on it. I don’t know! We’ll see. But as for linen, I adore it. It’s in a tie with silk and wool as one of my favorite fabrics.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - White linen sounds dreamy! I’m contemplating a turquoise blue challis or a black and white gingham. I’ll probably go with something solid the first time since I still need a lot of practice lining up stripes!ReplyCancel

  • Vicki Kate - They all sound beautiful! Mine will be in a navy broderie anglaise, underlined in a deep christmas red. The wrap dress is going to be made from a beige/gold satin with massive butterflys printed on it. I’m really looking foward to this! Thank you Sunni!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - This sounds delicious luxurious! I can’t wait to see the final creation.ReplyCancel

  • Ginny - Lovely dresses! The white linen does sound lovely, though it would never be practical for me with the two-year old putting mucky handprints everywhere and insisting on tumbling about the garden with me. I actually finished up a shirtdress just before you announced this sewalong, using an adapted 50s blouse and 3/4 circle skirt cut in 4 gores, made up in black chambray and complete with vintage buttons and self-fabric belt. I’m waiting for a decent day to take photos for the blog though.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - And I’m wondering if white linen would be impractical for me too – I’m just sure that the first day of wear I’ll spill something red all over myself. Oh I just don’t know!ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - Sunni, Sunni, Sunni….

    That blue dress in pic #2 is trying to make me change my mind about making a wrap dress!!!ReplyCancel

  • Anna Dorthea - Yay! Love the blue shirtdress! I’m using a BurdaStyle pattern and I’m planning on using a bright yellow cotton fabric. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Oh bright yellow is a favorite color of mine! I’m sure you’ll look fab in that!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - I thought I had my ideas all sorted till you posted that lovely white one!! I really love the simplicity of the cut-in-one collar. I was going to go with a Twin Peaks inspired number (pinned at http://pinterest.com/pin/49750770854061914/ and http://pinterest.com/pin/49750770854061809/ ) but now I’m undecided. Maybe it’ll just need to go into the memory bank for next time 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Claire Cooper - I’ve been thinking about making a shirtdress too – or maybe a few. I start a new Job in September and Office wear is the required uniform! (not great for an art teacher!) so I need something smart that will look great with a jacket, but is comfy and has a little bit of creativity about it. can’t stand boring suits! Anyway I really like the Gingham one!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Oh, then you DEFINITELY need a shirtdress. In fact, I think you need at least 5 – then you can just wear them everyday! Ha!ReplyCancel

  • Ryan - And of course you know the Simplicity pattern is a perfect match to the yellow silk? shirtdress worn by the Dutchess of Caimbridge in Canada. Wearing a silk dress on the tarmac of an airport is probably not recommended though. I’m sure the Queen was aghast!ReplyCancel

  • mz kat - I really like the blue dress. That collar is just so adorable!!! And that gingham dress is so drool worthy!

    I’m super excited to sew along with you! I’ve chosen a linen/cotton blend with large blue & purple poppies. I had to talk myself out of using a solid. I figured my stitching skills are still being perfected and the pattern would help hide my oopsies!

    This is my first foray into making a mood board on Polyvore.

    • Sunni - Oh gacks! So gorgeous! I love the shots of blue and purple and with those lovely shoes – how positively perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - This actually is making my decision between the two even harder 😉 I was convinced on the shirtdress, then yesterday’s post made me wander to the wrap dress camp. I guess at this point, I just need to decide which one I will make first! I just ordered my point presser and clapper from you, so maybe that means the shirtdress first…ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I know, I don’t think I could choose. So glad I’m making both! Ha ha ha!ReplyCancel

  • Rochelle New - I’m definitely making the shirt dress. I agree, it’s a truly timeless type of dress! I’m thinking cotton of some sort for the summer months. Cotton Poplin probably 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I really think the poplin will be grand! So crisp and clean and yet, not too heavy and hot! Perfect summer dress.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - It’s been my dream to have Diane Lane’s white dress in Under the Tuscan Sun since before I could sew! Now I have no excuse – must sew it!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Isn’t it just the most beautiful dress? She’s wears it so wonderfully too. Am I insane to make an all white dress?ReplyCancel

  • Tee - So excited! I picked up my pattern yesterday at Joann’s.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Yay! Sales are so good and I can’t even tell you how happy I am that this particular Simplicity sale coincided so perfectly with the Sewalong! Yay!ReplyCancel

  • Juliet - Love the examples, I can’t wait for my pattern to arrive, patterns are so expensive here in NZ, you’re lucky to get one on sale for less than $12! So I ordered online… let the anguished wait begin!ReplyCancel

  • Judy - This will be my first sew a long. Do I need to sign up somewhere? Will the instructions be posted here?

    So excited!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I’m so glad you are joining in. You don’t necessarily need to sign up anywhere, but you are more than welcome to join the flickr group and post anything and everything pertaining to the sewalong and your experience in there.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Baker - Hi, I have sent some pix for your readers if you care to use them. While not exactly a shirt maker dress, I thought that readers would be interested in seeing how stripes can be used. I based the two dress’s on a Horrockses dress worn by the Duchess of Kent. The trick was to line the bodice pieces, which were cut on the bias with a fine iron on lightweight interfacing cut on the straight grain. That way, no stretch distortion. Also the button closures on the skirt were interfaced with straight of grain iron on for the same reason.
    The floral dress was my test run using left overs, the brown stripe dress is a tad big on my lovely friend but she wanted a photo in it. I have also found a bone vintage buckle for the belt which is much better than the temporary one in the photo. keep up the good work.
    Photos are on home page of http://www.rocktoit.com, scroll down the page. cheers. Linda.ReplyCancel

  • Melanie - This beauty arrived today and I’m pretty excited about it – Vintage McCalls 5420.

    I’m thinking I’ll sew along but using this pattern.. I’ve never made a shirt-waist so I think the sew along will come in handy 🙂ReplyCancel

  • The two types of shirt dresses « Yes I Like That - […] a shirt dress sewalong going on right now at A Fashionable Stitch, but while I do like the pattern they’re using, I don’t want a zip in my dress. It […]ReplyCancel

  • Lora - Sunni:

    I haven’t been by for a month or so. I noticed your last update was back on June 14. I enjoy your site, and I hope you haven’t stopped blogging. I have several sites I drop in on for inspiration when I need a jumpstart to start or finish a project. Your’s is one of them. I truly enjoy all your projects and ideas!


    • Sunni - That’s strange because my last update should be August 15 – maybe you need to delete your cookies in your browser.ReplyCancel