Chocolate Dot Shirtdress: Advance 5937

Ever since I joined Sew Retro I’ve been excited to get started and post my first project using a vintage pattern. Finally, I have something to share!

Here’s the original pattern, fabric and button choices:

Fabric is a cotton-rayon blend (it feels mostly like cotton though) from Dressew, buttons are from Button Button. My first thought was to make this in a plaid, but I never found a perfect plaid fabric with enough drape and softness for a bias skirt. I loved this cotton-rayon dotted print – the dots have a cool textured look and the rayon adds a nice drape and soft handfeel.

I tried to stay true to the pattern by following the original instructions: bias tape on the facing edges, bound buttonholes, and making a self fabric belt. Though, the instructions that come with a fabric belt kit are so vague…it’s like they took out some of the directions so it would fit on the back of the package better. I’m thinking of doing a step-by-step guide with photos for reference.

The funny thing about this pattern is the zipper instructions:

Strange, my zipper didn’t come with instructions on how to insert it? I remembered Gertie’s awesome tutorial here, and followed it for a fairly successful hand-picked lapped zipper.

And voila, here’s the finished dress!

Another view… I was originally going to make a self-belt but it blended in too much, the cream is much better. Highlights the waist!

View from the back – the skirt is cut on the bias for a soft flare, not enough to add a lot of volume but just enough for a little swing when you walk.

Another back view – look at the cute turnback cuffs!

I did shorten the skirt quite a bit, as the original length would have been close to my ankles. Other than that I didn’t make any changes to the pattern.

This dress is super comfortable, though it may be a size too large. There’s so much extra space in the bust (sadly!) and it’s not even snug at the waist. I made a size 14 (bust 32) which is the right size according to my measurements… there seems to be a lot more ease in vintage patterns.

Though it’s quite refreshing to be comfortable and relaxed in this dress, it’s pretty in a subdued way. Wholesome-pretty, not in-your-face pretty. I like it a lot, I wasn’t too sure of it before it was finished (and especially when it was near-ankle-length!) but it’s quite wearable. Vintage without being too costumey.

And just as we left the park, I snapped the most amazing picture of the sunset. So beautiful – can you believe it’s not retouched or edited?

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40 Responses to Chocolate Dot Shirtdress: Advance 5937

  1. The Cupcake Goddess June 9, 2010 at 7:45 am #

    AHHHHHH!!! This is just gorgeous! And I simply LOVE the polka dot fabric. And what a perfect style on you too! You look simply marvelous! I love the big collar and the nice flowing skirt is beautiful! Lovely job Tasia!

  2. Jessica June 9, 2010 at 8:11 am #

    That’s absolutely stunning! Fantastic job!

  3. Molly June 9, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    So cute! I love the polka dots and you can’t tell at all from the pictures that it doesn’t fit perfect

  4. Gertie June 9, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    Beautiful! I predict you will get a lot of wear out of this. I’m glad my zipper tutorial helped. Aren’t hand-picked zippers a revelation?

  5. Jaime June 9, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    I was looking at the dress trying to figure out where you’d put a zipper…must be in the side right? Those instructions are hilarious. :) Cute dress. My pear shape never really fits the shirt dresses in the store, as they’re usually more like tunics or shifts, but this with the fuller skirt might be the ticket. Looks great!

  6. Trisha June 9, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    This dress really turned out well. I want one!!! ha ha! Looks great on you.

  7. lsaspacey June 9, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Dress looks lovely! About the ease, you’re forgetting that they wore girdle-like garments, full-line (maybe bullet) brassieres and slips under all of their dresses. So, those would take up some of that ease for sure. However, I definitely think the vintage ease allowances were less than modern Big 4 (McCalls, Butterick, Vogue, Simplicity) pattern ease though.

  8. Stacy June 9, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    Love it! I am crazy about brown right now and this dress is fantastic! beautiful work!

  9. Lisa Lassie Sullivan June 9, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    Love it…adorable..cute as a button. Love the sleeves and collar…and the fabric.Great job~~

  10. Whitney June 9, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    Ohhh your dress is lovely! And I covet your shoes…tres chic!

  11. Eva Girl June 9, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    This is a darling dress – so classic – and lovely details! It looks fabulous on you!!!

  12. Jessica June 9, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    I love the polka dots! I know what you mean about the ease in vintage dresses – I always just buy the smallest size I can find, and sometimes the ease is crazy in the bust. Maybe it’s because the patterns were one size to a package, to allow for easier alterations? Great job on the dress – it’s a great shape on you! I just bought one of those belt kits for my current project, and the instructions do seem a bit vague. Love the zipper instructions too – I guess they wanted a lapped zipper? I probably would have just done an invisible zip.

  13. Cecili June 9, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    What a stunning shirtdress, I love it! You did a fantastic vintage job :)

  14. Nancy Grant June 9, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    What an awesome look! LOVE the dress!

  15. B @ Sweet Limes June 9, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    I’m in love! Any idea where I can find a copy of that for myself? I’m the same size as you are. I’d love to have something that soft, feminine and pretty.

  16. Angela June 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Love the dress and the beautiful sunset picture!

  17. ~Sherry~ June 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    This looks great on you!
    I like the white belt too – matches the buttons! I think the size looks perfect, and you are right – it is very wearable without being costumey.

  18. CGCouture June 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    Fabulous! I love this dress on you! I think I’m going to have to see if I can find this pattern so that I can make my own, though if everyone else sees your version I might have trouble finding one for sale, LOL! If you want to go the machine-sewn route next time for your zipper, this tutorial ( for a lapped zipper is pretty good–the same people also have a FABULOUS invisible zipper tutorial too.

  19. Uta June 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Absolutely lovely! This is a true classic, you can wear it forever.

  20. catherine June 9, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Ah great job! I am inspired to go back and attempt some of my vintage patterns now. And can I just compliment you on an excellent shoe pairing!

  21. Kat June 9, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    Stunning! I love shirt dresses. I really want to make one. I have the Ceylon pattern from Colette but it scares me a little. I might need to try something a little easier first.

  22. Renay June 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    Oh so pretty, and it looks like it is a great fit, so don’t worry about it :-) where did you get those shoes!? im in love…

  23. Victoria June 9, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    This is such a lovely dress! The color, fit, and style are superb! You look great!

  24. Kristie June 9, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    Oh Wow! is all I can say. . . and. . . my favorite is the cuffs. Awesome sexy shoes girl!

  25. Tasia June 9, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    Thanks everyone for the awesome comments!
    @Renay: The shoes are from Nine West, bought for an amazing deal last Boxing Day (something like $40 down from $ kind of price!)
    @Kat: I love the Ceylon pattern! Take a read through the instructions, you might find it’s not as scary as you think!@CGCouture: Thanks for sharing the tutorials! I was excited to try my first hand-picked zipper on this one, but it’s always good to find good how-to guides for future.
    @B @ Sweet Limes: and @CGCouture: if I ever see this pattern out there for sale I’ll be sure to post the link!
    @Jessica: I took a ton of pictures of the belt-making so if you don’t get to it first, I’ll put up a photo how-to for the belt kit soon…
    @lsaspacey: Ah, very good point about the foundation garments! Which I definitely wasn’t wearing underneath in my photos :)

  26. Suzie June 10, 2010 at 2:20 am #

    Gorgeous!!! Dresses in brown with white polka dot totally make me think of Pretty Woman! Yours isn’t quite the same, but it’s definately got the same vibe going! Oh, and I love your new backdrop :)

  27. The Sew Convert June 10, 2010 at 5:53 am #

    Love the dress and the shoes! The location for your shoot is really nice too:)

  28. Monet June 10, 2010 at 7:25 am #

    Tasia, I love it! You look absolutely amazing…and the fabric choice was PERFECT!!!

  29. Maggie June 10, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    Looks fantastic on you…but I’m tying to think of what wouldn’t look great on you! You really pull off the vintage stuff.

  30. Debi June 10, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Love, love, love the dress! You’ve made it over to the dark side….vintage sewing—there’s no going back :-) heheheh Oh and love the new blog….really nice!

  31. Suzie June 11, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    P.S. meanth to say – the shoes are awesome!!

  32. Lizzy June 11, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    Hi!! I just “discovered” your blog, I love it! I love this dress!!! Is so beautiful, it looks so fresh, I love what you did with the belt. I LOVE shirtdresses!!!!

  33. Sarah June 11, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Tasia! I adore this dress! What a great job and it looks so pretty on you.

    Sarah :)

  34. Monica June 15, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    I love your dress!!! I love vintage patterns and modern dresses made from vintage patterns. Now I need a dress like this!! You’re a great seamstress! Thanks for the inspiration!

  35. kathyh June 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    I just discovered you via The Selfish Seamstress and I am struck by how cool your outfit SHOES are. Well done.

  36. Amy June 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    Love your blog girl! You are so talented and have a great style! Good Luck on your marathon this year, from one pear marathoner to another I think you will find it as an advantage while training :) All the best!

  37. Clare Ryan June 16, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    Absolutely darling! That chocolate colour is absolutely delicious… and the shoes are just sweet. You look beautiful!

  38. Spikeabell July 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    With all these comments I needn’t say it again..but it suits you so well and the shoes and belt are a perfect match..well done! the style is very eye catching on you

  39. woolcat July 7, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    Gorgeous dress! Wow. I moved last year from the Vancouver area and I miss Button Button so much.

  40. angie.a December 19, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    This is such a cute dress, and so very current! I love when vintage works modern too. :) Vintage patterns historically have much LESS ease than current patterns (big 4, not necessarily independents). If I had to guess, I would say they were more likely to have the “bullet bra” undergarment shaping. That works great for someone like me who routinely has to do an FBA in a modern pattern (but not so often in a vintage). If you’re less endowed, you probably find you need a SBA when sewing vintage.

    Lovely garments on your blog! I’ve been enjoying reading this morning.