I Accidentally Made a Halloween Waitress Costume

Halloween Waitress Costume from Sheets

When Colette released their Penny shirt dress pattern, I knew right away I was going to make it.  Penny is a modern, classic shirt dress that fills a big void in my closet.  From past experience with Colette’s patterns, I knew the dress would fit beautifully and sew easily.  Over Labor Day weekend, I sewed this dress late into the night because I couldn’t wait to wear the finished garment.

I had the perfect fabrics – a thrifted, striped bed sheet and a white, button-down shirt for the cuffs and collar.  My intent was to  make the dress look like it was made of  men’s shirting fabric.

As I was putting the dress together, I got this weird sense of deja vu.  I’ve seen this dress before, but not in a good way.   Then I remembered my sister’s first job as a waitress in high school at a 50’s themed diner.  She used to wear a uniform just like my dress.  To my horror, I realized that my attempt at a timeless shirt dress devolved into a waitress costume.

I was so disgusted with my shirt dress I almost threw it away.  It was heartbreaking because I put so much work into it.  My stupid dress looked nothing like the beautiful samples  on Colette’s website.  My unfortunate choice of fabrics made the dress look cheesy.

Back view of a Halloween waitress costume made from a bed sheet.

Despite the disappointment, the project turned out to be a good learning experience.  This is the first time I sewed a shirt yoke,  and I didn’t mess it up!  Sewing a yoke is like magic –  you roll the back and front bodice pieces into the yoke, sew the seams, turn everything inside out and all pieces are beautifully attached.  The pattern calls for interfacing on one side of the yoke, but I think it’s overkill.  Maybe it makes sense for thinner fabrics, but I’ve cut up my fair share of button down shirts in my refashions and never saw an interfaced yoke.

Close up of Halloween waitress costume made from a bed sheet.

I did mess up the collar (tried 2 times to get it right) but managed to salvage it even though it looks nothing like the original pattern.  For some odd reason, the collar came out longer than the neck opening, so I had to chop off the collar button and button hole.  Since this dress is now just a costume, I’m not fretting over it anymore.

I’m loving the fit of this dress.  The waist on most patterns falls lower on my petite frame, but this waist is right on target.  The bodice is nicely fitted with just the right amount of ease.

In my youth, I used to wear vintage inspired clothes just like this and would have worn this to swing dances.  Ah, the good old days . . .

This is one of those “make lemonade out of lemons” kind of projects.   Once I reframed this dress as a waitress costume, I made a little apron to complete the look.   I’m not giving up on this pattern.  Someday soon, I’ll give this dress another try with drastically different fabric, like a rayon floral or a simple solid.  I’m determined to get this right.

I have lots of sewing fails I don’t bother posting because they are embarrassing hot messes, but this one has a happy ending.  This project reminds me of Tim Gunn’s famous quote “make it work.”  Looks like I’ll be trick-or-treating with the kid as a waitress.


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There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Maria at 9:30 am

    If the fit is good, then you could always try dyeing it to tone down the stripes. It might be interesting to see how the white collar & armbands take the dye. Just a thought.

    • melissa1lin at 10:35 am

      Great idea! I never dyed anything before, so this could be a good project. Collar and armbands are 100% cotton, so I’m assuming it could take the dye well.

  2. Deepika at 1:59 am

    I love the way you refashion all of your dresses. This one is looking very trendy. 🙂
    I tried your prom dress trick on my bodycon dress and made a pencil skirt.
    Keep posting.

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