All Buttoned Up

Frocks and Frou Frou Frocks and Frou Frou Frocks and Frou Frou Frocks and Frou Frou Hawthorn Dress: DIY (Colette Patterns)

Shoes: Comfortview

So here’s the thing about boobs. They make buttoned-up things a pain in the ass. So shirt dresses are a big old “no”. If they fit the bust they’re boxy in the shoulders. Fit the shoulders? Good luck getting those buttons done up. Add short-waisted to the mix and it just becomes a recipe for wardrobe disaster.

Towards the end of last year I dropped by Stitch 56 to meet Sarai Mitnick, the founder of my favourite pattern company Colette, during her visit to Australia. I accidentally (not really) forgot to take any of my much-loved patterns along to be signed, so “had” to buy a new one, and the Hawthorn shirt dress pattern caught my eye immediately.

It’s a little more advanced than my usual sewing projects, but the comprehensive instruction booklet that comes with all Colette patterns coached me through step-by-step and I was totally delighted to see it coming together.

I had to tweak the pattern a little as I was sewing – shortening the waist and bringing the sides in a little – but it was easy to do in the fitting process. I think if (when!) I make the pattern again with the sleeves I’ll have to do a proper, legit, Full Bust Adjustment.

The dress has a lovely semi-circle skirt that provides fullness without extra bulk. The bodice is darted at the waist for a streamlined look, and the small, high collar gives that classic shirt dress look without the extra volume around the bust.

Frocks and Frou FrouBecause I was a bit nervous about the pattern I started with a budget-friendly textured slub cotton that looks almost identical to the linen dress pictured in the marketing for the original pattern.

I deliberated over the buttons for more time than I care to admit, but in the end decided to indulge my penchant for whimsy and go with pretty little white hearts.

Frocks and Frou FrouThe result was better than I could have hoped for: A beautifully fitting shirt dress that has a classic 1950’s elegance, but is comfortable and breezy to wear on hot summer days.

Goldrush

frocks and frou frou Frocks and Frou Frou Frocks and Frou Frou Frocks and Frou FrouDress: 17 Sundays

Cardigan: Calvin Klein Plus

Belt: secondhand via A+ Market. Similar here

Shoes: Mel by Melissa

I saw this 17 Sundays “Steal My Sunshine” dress pop up in my Facebook feed just before Christmas while the independent Australian brand was having a whopping 25% off sale. The gold foil dots, the pleated skirt and wearable jersey fabric. I was sold.

I haven’t had a lot of experience with 17 Sundays, but the sizes they had were fairly limited, so I ordered the size 16 and hoped for the best. When it arrived I was totally delighted to discover that the gold dots were as shiny, the pleats as permanent, and the jersey fabric as soft and comfortable as I could have dreamed of.

I’d been hoping that the dress would be something I could comfortably throw on and be instantly and effortlessly glamorous but sadly, the unadulterated dress didn’t play nicely with my figure:PicMonkey Collage

The shoulder straps sit too narrow on my shoulders, making my upper arms look quite beefy; and the armholes are cut too deep, exposing my bra and plenty of what I’ve discovered is called “sleevage” (that poochy little little bit of flesh in your armpit). The waist rides high (possibly the Rack of Doom taking up too much real estate) but it’s also too loose, and the whole fit is just a bit of a disaster. In a perfect world I’d swap the 16 for a dress one or two sizes larger, then bring in at the sides (the way one of my followers, Laura, told me she’d done). I tried the larger size on in Myer (where I believe it’s still available, FYI) and the longer waist made all the difference.

I REALLY loved the gold dots though, and I couldn’t quite muster the energy to alter the dress so instead I belted it with a fabulous gold glitter belt that I’d bought secondhand from Miss Kate (AKA Misty Belvedere) at the A+ Markets, and the gold(ish) cardigan/jacket that I bought years ago from Calvin Klein Plus at Macy’s.

Frocks and Frou FrouA little accessorising and my “nope” turned into a definite “yep” and this little ensemble is a new favourite go-to.

It’s not as effortless and casual-chic as I’d hoped, but the effect is a lot more elegant and grown-up (and multi-seasonal). Down the track I might end up whacking off the bodice and just wearing those gorgeous soft pleats as a skirt, but for now I’m content to just rise-and-repeat the entire outfit.

Apparently 17 Sundays is planning to release a new version of the dress with a seamed bodice (which I’m pretty excited about trying), but there’s no guarantee the dots’ll be back so if you’re loving the effect of gold on heathered grey you should probably hit up a local Myer soon before they all get snapped up.