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 projects 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.
I had the perfect fabrics – a thrifted, striped bed sheet and a white, button-down shirt for the cuffs and collar. 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 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. My stupid dress looked nothing like the beautiful samples on Colette’s website. My unfortunate choice of fabrics made the dress look cheesy.
Despite the disappointment, the project turned out to be a good learning experience. It was my first shot at sewing a shirt yoke, and I didn’t mess it up! Sewing a yoke is like magic – you roll the back and front bodice into the yoke, sew the seams, turn everything inside out, and all pieces are beautifully attached. The pattern called 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 shirts and never saw an interfaced yoke.
I did mess up the collar (tried two 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 buttonhole. Since this dress is now a costume, I’m not fretting over it anymore.
I love the fit of this dress. The waist on most patterns falls lower on my petite frame, but this one was right on target. The bodice fits well with just enough ease to move around comfortably.
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 plain 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. It looks like I’ll be trick-or-treating with the kid as a waitress.
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