the Dress that Nearly Killed Me!

Here it is. That dress. Pretty cute huh? I’m so completely in love with it, that I’m just about to cut out another – in an emerald green ponte knit. So, I already told you much of the background on this dress, you know, perfect fit and all that. I’ll cover my findings on how I went about fitting the bodice with the sleeve later on. For now, here’s some more fun facts and ideas for you:

The skirt of this is none other than the Sewaholic’s Lonsdale (Tasia, you now have complete monopoly on my skirts). I went for an above the knee length and have to admit, above the knee looks better on me than below the knee for this particular style.
The skirt section is interlined in a whale of a print flannel (meaning there’s whales on it, ha!), just for warmth. Well, and for fun cause I’m silly like that.
I also used the flannel as my stabilizer for the buttonhole placket and collar. Worked out wonderfully too.
The sleeve is my own design – besides taking the cap from Simplicity 2724. I managed to take out the fullness from the original design and tacked on a pretty cute tie embellishment to the bottom.

The buttons are hand covered buttons made with the wrong side of the fabric. I’m about to make a belt too, but you know, I was practically jumping out of my skin to show you this dress.
The fabric is a denim – almost a chambray type, lightweight – from Joann. The flannel was from Joann too. So were the hand cover buttons.
The collar was trimmed down to be shorter so that it could stand up instead of fall down. That means that the placket and lapel were thinned out too. Since I like my look better with the collar standing up, I flipped the stabilizer (the flannel in this case) to the undercollar instead of applying it to the upper collar. Have to say it makes a huge difference too – the collar stays up all day.

I stabilized the buttonhole placket with flannel, but the flip side – where the buttons are attached – is stabilized with a strip of rayon petersham, also from the shop. Hemmed it all up in petersham too.
My fingers went blue from the indigo dye every time I worked on this dress.
I feel rather Daphne-esque (Scooby Do, you know) in this dress, especially with my hair down, and I’m fine with that. Mr. S is not.

That’s about it, I think. What do you think? Oh yes. I’m sure you are wondering if I can, indeed, put my arms out comfortably in front of me. Why yes. Yes, I can. It’s a beauty, eh? After finishing this dress, I keep wondering why I haven’t made more things in denim.  Do you even have any idea how easy this dress is to wear to anything? I’ve no doubt that I’ll be wearing it, until it literally falls off my body. Classic. Timeless. Cute. Stylish. Comfortable too.

I know I’m a geek. It’s totally OK if before these photos you didn’t think I was, but now you know I am. It’s a wonderful Wednesday! Thanks for tuning in to my show and tell.


  • Evie - Oh my gosh! I want this dress! It’s too adorable for words. Congratulations!ReplyCancel

  • Erika - I’m dying over it! Well doneReplyCancel

  • April - i’m so glad you’ve discovered the wonders of denim! i’m addicted to the stuff. i’ve even contemplated getting a second, more heavy-duty machine, just so i can do MORE with denim.

    also, you look freaking adorable! love your little frankendress. knowing what a time you’ve had with the arm/sleeve issues, it came out looking superb! great work.ReplyCancel

  • Katie - Great dress! I have always loved shirtdresses but haven’t made one yet for myself.

    I can definately tell how excited you are about finishing this – and you should be after putting that much work into it!ReplyCancel

  • Casey - Bravo!!! I really enjoyed reading through your previous post on this dress, since some of the fitting frustrations/adjustments I have to make on many of the bodices I sew up too–really helpful! 🙂

    I love that you made this in denim! I shied away from denim for so many years because I equated it with a period in my life that I don’t ever want to go back to (we discussed it a bit while we hung out in NYC! ;), and I’ve always struggled feeling frumpy in denim (except for jeans). I did make one denim shift dress a few years ago, but gave it away because of the “frump” feeling, despite loving the fabric and the fit of the dress. Now seeing your gorgeous creation is making me kick myself for doing that–although this just means maybe I need to go fabric shopping? haha!ReplyCancel

  • Mainelydad - That dress is totally perfect on you! Maybe I’ll get up the courage to try denim some day. Thanks for the inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • Lavender - Love it!!! Denim totally rocks, even if it turns you blue for a bit. Great tip on the collar! Looks fab standing up, and good to know how to get that effect. Also, those tights! At least you’re not Velma – I’ve been called Velma a few times :/ReplyCancel

  • Mika - Your dress looks great! I can’t wait to see how you fitted the bodice & sleeves- I have a corduroy shirt dress planned and know that seeing what you did will be so helpful!ReplyCancel

  • Leah - Oh wow! this is beautiful!
    If it was mine I don’t think I would ever want to take it off!


  • Tamsin W-P - Wow, this looks amazing – certainly worth all the hard work you put into it. It reminds me that I started a muslin for a shirt dress over a year ago and got a bit stuck. I put it away, then moved back home from NZ to UK and it hasn’t really been unpacked! Your dress make me want to start up with it again.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - Gorgeous! I love the sleeve ties!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Natty - One word… WOW! I love the sleeves and the collar. You look amazing! Great job…ReplyCancel

  • gail - Fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • Jane - Oh I love this dress Sunni, it’s made me want to make a denim shirtdress too. I made a denim Ginger skirt in the summer and wear it a LOT – it’s like wearing jeans but smarter! The fit is indeed perfect and you look cute as a button in it. Totally inspiring. xReplyCancel

  • Amanda S. - ADORABLE!!! You really made it your own!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - That’s a great dress! You should be super proud of it – it’s a really flattering style on you. I absolutely love those sleeves.ReplyCancel

  • Marie - This is simply the perfect little demin dress! Please can we see your whale-print lining?ReplyCancel

  • sue - So, so, so, so, SO adorable! Well done, as usual.

    Also, I’m a big Daphne fan. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Rochelle New - It’s cuuute!!! AMAZING final outcome! You’re so talented.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Weese - Wow! It is super cute! I love it! The sleeves are just the cutest!ReplyCancel

  • Suzie - I love it!ReplyCancel

  • Lizz - If this is your geek side than I love it! You look darling in these photos and you’ve left some really great advice. Amazing job on the collar – I’ve always wondered how to get it to stay up and I would never have thought to stabilize the opposite side! Also, my next button placket is definitely going to be stabilized with petersham – function and good looks.ReplyCancel

  • longredthread - what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger 🙂

    The dress is awesome!ReplyCancel

  • ELizabeth - That dress is just perfect in every way. Beautifully made and fitted. Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Abby - Tasks dress is so cute! If you do a post on the belt, can you show us the lining too? Whale flannel must make you smile every time you put that dress on. 🙂 Well, that and the fact that it’s adorable and fits like a dream!ReplyCancel

  • eunny - Oh Sunni, this is fantastic! I love your attention to detail…those knotted sleeves and that stand-up collar…Just reading/ogling this is getting my garment sewing mojo going again.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - Ah, this is even better than I expected! And I pretty much expected THE MOON from you, so that’s saying a lot 🙂 Loveeeee that you used denim… loveee the fit, the stand-up collar, those little covered buttons (and using the wrong side of the fabric? CLEVER!), your posies, and omg the sleeves! Are you going to post a tutorial on how to do those tie-ends on the sleeves? Please say yes. I am dying over here.ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - This is perfect! Great job!ReplyCancel

  • CarmencitaB - Lovely lovely lovely. Great dress, I love the sleeves’ details. Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Peter - That’s quite a provocative blog post heading, Sunni! The dress is lovely. You’re not sticking that in the dryer, I hope!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - This is so completely awesome! Bravo! Perfect!
    I want to see the whale lining 😀ReplyCancel

  • Crystal - Yay, a finished garment post! It looks great and if it feels good to wear, you will enjoy it so much. I love denim dresses and skirts. So easy to wear just about anywhere.ReplyCancel

  • ms. modiste - Oh, it turned out so well! It looks like it fits perfectly. I have to say, I have the same problem (inability to reach forward) with fitting blazers/jackets and it’s both the reason I’d like to try making them AND the reason why I’m too scared to try! Hopefully I’ll eventually develop enough skill to solve the problem, too. Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • melissa - It’s totally lovely. Just the right amount of retro vibe going on there – just enough to be stylin’ without veering into cliche territory. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Amber - WOW! This is so darling. You are amazing and very inspiring.
    Way to go.ReplyCancel

  • Claire (aka Seemane) - It’s a delightful-denim-dress Sunni! The fit is so god, and your joy at wearing it is so clear in your pics 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Sherry - Just gorgeous Sunni! It fits beautifully, and I’m sure you’ll wear this for ever!!ReplyCancel

  • Patricia Austin - Fantastic! I used to shy away from denim until I did a mock up just for fun with some stretch denim for edge stitching and invisible zipper practice and ended up with a jumper that I wear ALL the time. This dress is super very vintage modern! Well done!ReplyCancel

  • suzy - It is gorgeous, fantastic work!! I never worked with denim but looking at this cute dress I might have a go.ReplyCancel

  • Becky - It looks really good! I’m glad you persevered with it, because it’s going to be a great addition to your wardrobe.ReplyCancel

  • Debi - Sunni–it’s absolutely FABULOUS! And I can tell you feel FABULOUS in it (and you should because you are)! You’ve given me so many great ideas!! Well done! xoxoxoReplyCancel

  • Amy - It looks lovely. Quite a success story. And, I should look into getting more use out of my Lonsdale skirt pattern myself. Aren’t the lines and pockets perfect? All of your versions of it have been so cute.ReplyCancel

  • Vicki Kate - This looks so cute on you! The fit is perfect and it’s completely unique? Absolutely L.O.V.E it!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Sunni your dress is beautiful the fit especially is spectacular.ReplyCancel

  • Nat - Oh my. This is fabulous. I’ve been thinking of making a dress similar to this but am really unsure whether the shape is for me. But you look super. Congratulations.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Darling! I love the idea of using the reverse of the fabric for buttons and flannel instead of interfacing. Speaking of the flannel, you should post a picture of it.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - This is the sort of dress that is so fabulous I want to run out and try and make one for myself 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Megh - Wonderful Wednesday indeed. That dress is truly spectacular.ReplyCancel

  • LunaLoo - Incredible fit and details! I love your idea about covering the buttons with the reverse side of the fabric and the trick you used to make the collar stand up. Thanks for sharing, it’s a blockbuster hit !!ReplyCancel

  • q - ooooh what a darling dress, i want one!!!ReplyCancel

  • ReadyThreadSew - Gorgeous dress. Every time I read a post like this and see garments with such perfect fit I realise that I really must get more patience with my sewing and go for quality over quantity. Still not sure I have the patience yet though.ReplyCancel

  • K-Line - This is the cutest dress evah! I love the sleeves. Totally.ReplyCancel

  • Melanie - LOL You’re so cute ! This dress is a beauty. I wear denim 75% of the time, heck 85% of the time and I’m totally jealous right now!
    Also what a neat idea to do the buttons with the wrong side of the fabric. This dress is classic but not conservative, I love it!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Camobell - I love denim. Maybe next year I’ll make it the primary fabric for my garments!ReplyCancel

  • Emilia - I absolutely love this dress, especially the sleeve and the collar! Good job!ReplyCancel

  • Jasz - Super awesome! You should think about making it as a download pattern ;D I would buy it and can‘t wait to see the green one! Actually this is the first denim dress I adore. Lovely! And so perfect with your haircolour.ReplyCancel

  • Reana Louise - Look at you with your arms thrust out in front of you! Now you can push a trolley, press horns, reach for chocolate and flowers and all kind of arm-infront-of-you action! This dress really IS amazing and so are the photos. Two things: (1) Can we please see the whale lining? (2) If you ever feel like doing a tutorial (or have and I just need to be pointed to it) can you please explain the whole button stabiliser thing? I’m new to buttons and I don’t really get it (the shame!). RL xReplyCancel

  • Sassy T - Love it on you. Love denim.ReplyCancel

  • NuJoi - Very cute!ReplyCancel

  • liza jane - Ok, that IS a fabulous fit! I totally believe you now. I am so jealous of the picture with your arms out in front of you. I pretty much always have issue with that, too. I chalked it up to a broad back but after trying out a few broad back alterations I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the shape of the armscye. I dunno. LOVE your shirt dress! The reverse fabric covered buttons are genius and I love your polka dot tights.ReplyCancel

  • Tors - WOW! It looks AMAZING! I am in awe of your sewing skills because that is definitely a perfect dress. Can’t wait to see your other versions once they’re done!ReplyCancel

  • Angelina S. - This is a GREAT dress. Wow.ReplyCancel

  • thesecretlifeofseams - This is the lushest dress I’ve seen on a blog in a long time! It fits wonderfully, the sleeve ties are adorable, the colour complements you perfectly, and the collar…wow, that collar is killer. This is the kind of stuff I dream about being able to sew.ReplyCancel

  • Sewing Princess - I love it! you did an impressive job on it. And you look adorable in those pictures! Congratulations! Can I have one too? :o)ReplyCancel

  • Stitching Spotlights – 1/13/2012 - […] Yay! First of all today, I want to especially thank you guys for your wonderful comments about my shirtdress! You all definitely know how to make a girl feel like a million bucks. Gush…Thank you, Thank […]ReplyCancel

  • Ololi - Great dress although I’m not much of a fan of collars. Thanks for all the detailed information!ReplyCancel

  • Susan C - I love that denim dress you made – especially the sleeves! It’s a dress you can wear a hundred times anywhere and it will never be out of place or out of fashion. p.s. Your belt kits are super and I’m looking forward to using one of them this week. I have a fab new sewing machine (for Christmas) as my old machine died. I must get some of your petersham ribbon too – where I live you can only get that awful thin polyester grosgrain that doesn’t shape properly so it’s useless.ReplyCancel

  • Joelle - LOVE it–cute pictures, too!ReplyCancel

  • Inside Look at the Dress that Nearly Killed Me! - […] to see the inner workings and details of things I had mentioned but did not show pictures of for my shirtdress. I am more than happy to comply! […]ReplyCancel

  • RobinDenning - Oh I love it! That is one heck of a cute, flattering, versatile dress. You must lined it, too, right? I mean, the flannel would catch on your tights without a lining? Whatever you did, it looks great. The flannel gives such nice body to the denim.
    And your personal details make it so much cuter than the original pattern.
    I have also struggled quite a bit to get a nice bodice & sleeve, so I understand.

    • Sunni - Thank you! I actually didn’t line it, but wear slip with it. Works just great. The flannel does give it just the right body that helps it float away from the body too. Adds weight to the skirt section as well and I think that also helps it not grab onto my tights. At least there has been no problem with that yet.ReplyCancel

  • Sew Grateful Skirt - […] more laid back and wearing casual clothing is becoming more and more of a necessity. Since I wear my denim shirtdress so much – and this only since the beginning of January – I felt that adding more denim […]ReplyCancel

  • Two Ways to Thinner Seams – a Sewing Diet - […] been using my fair share of thick fabrics lately. The denim shirtdress, the Green with Envy shirtdress and my Sew Grateful Skirt. Needless to say, thick fabrics can a be […]ReplyCancel

  • Helen Anna - Wow! This is gorgeous. I’m new to sewing but you’ve inspired me to try something similar to this!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I love the tie at the end of the 1/2 sleeves, So cute.ReplyCancel

  • 2-in-1 Sewalong: Inspiring Shirt Dresses - […] 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 get wear it, I get a ton of compliments – […]ReplyCancel