Ask someone to imagine a shirt and they’ll no doubt picture a white button down work shirt. On the surface, they can seem a bit ‘samey’. But delve just a tiny bit deeper and we can see the shirt holds so much potential. I’ve sewn a fair few shirts and shirt dresses from independent sewing pattern brands, so here’s a round up of my top tried and tested patterns…
Saraste Shirt and Shirt Dress from Named Clothing
This pattern is from Named’s book Breaking the Pattern. The book includes 10 patterns and each one has a number of variations. It’s a stonker of a book, well worth investing in.
I’ve made a couple of versions of the Saraste shirt dress, and used the collar on a different shirt dress (the Honeycomb from CocoWawa Crafts). The construction is so clever, with continuous pieces right the way down the front of the dress, with gathered skirt sections either side. A totally unique way to reimagine the classic shirt dress.
Lempi Button Down Dress from Named
Another from Named, and one of my all time favourite patterns. Lempi is a relaxed fit shirt dress with a beautiful collar detail. The collar nods to 60s styles, but the design is so contemporary. The relaxed fit means this is an easy one in terms of sizing because you don’t need to worry about the waist ‘fitting’, simply cinch it in with a belt. Also, the pockets are enormous, so that’s a bonus!
Lyra from Tilly and the Buttons
This is a pattern that I’m not really wearing in the intended way. Lyra is designed as a shirt dress with a loose waist and gathered skirt. The pattern artwork features lovely floaty viscose, which if you’ve been here for a while, you’ll know just isn’t for me (click here if you’d like to read about it!). Instead, I’m making the pattern as a shirt as it’s the PERFECT boxy preppy shirt, hurrah! All you need to do is extend the hem of the bodice by around 10cm, depending on the length you’d like, and extend the button placket by the same amount. A super simple pattern hack that creates a really cool shirt.
Bloomsbury Blouse from Nina Lee
Technically not a shirt, but it has buttons and a collar, so I’m including it here! The Bloomsbury Blouse is on constant rotation in my wardrobe. The Bloomsbury has an Edwardian style collar with optional frill, but the main feature is an amazing ruffle across the front and back of the top, which buttons up at the back. I’ve made a few of these, dialing down the ‘Edwardian-ess’ through fabric choices and omitting the collar ruffle. You can make this with or without sleeves, and choose different ruffle sizes to create a different look each time.
Irma from I AM Patterns
Oh, Irma. Those sleeves are just the most incredible sleeves EVER! The Irma sewing pattern is a shirt and shirt dress with two sleeve options. The standard sleeves mean this can be your classic shirt, but switch to the bishop sleeve option and you get a shirt with a megawatt impact. Seriously, they are enormous and they gather into fitted cuffs to create such an incredible shape.