Red, White and Blue Shirtdresses with Butterick 6635

It's summertime here in Illinois!  Even though I love to be outside and spend time in my garden, I also am quite concerned about preventing sun damage to my skin and covering up as much as is reasonably comfortable.  For that reason, I decided to make some shirtdresses that would be lightweight, breezy, yet, tightly woven fabric that would offer some degree of SPF protection, and cover at least my upper arms and shoulders.  I've heard that the most important thing for sun protective fabric is tightness of the weave.  RIT makes a wash-in sun protective powder that is supposed to last for up to 20 washes, but I haven't tried it yet.  I don't care for sunscreen- it tends to make me sweat and feel greasy, so I've been favoring blocking the rays more mechanically with hats and clothing.   In the photo on the left, it looks like I'm wearing a camisole- I'm not, that's just the line where the sun protection from my hat ends-guess I need to button up a little further!

For my first dress, I used a 100% cotton plaid shirting from Fabric Mart in a strawberry red, off white and blue.  When I originally got it, I thought it looked like a tablecloth and wasn't too excited.  But after playing around with the plaid placement, I love it!  It is so comfortable. For the pattern, I used a woven shirt pattern- Butterick 6635 and lengthened it 6 inches.  

This is a Connie Crawford pattern that has a different sizing draft from the rest of the Butterick line.  I find that the large generally fits me well with no alterations, except for length.  I always have to add some length to patterns, but Connie designs for a much shorter woman, and I have to add even more!
But, it is so nice to not have to fiddle with a full bust adjustment, forward shoulder, round back, etc.
The one thing that I found odd about this pattern was the collar piece.  Usually, you have to clip the neck to get it stretch to fit the collar.  On this pattern, it was just the opposite.  I had to stretch the collar to get it to fit the neck.  The first time, I thought, oh, this must have been inaccurate cutting on my part.  But since it happened twice, I think that's the way that it was designed.  It seems to work, so I'm not complaining- just noting that it's a little different!  Also, the seam allowances are just 1/4" on the collar, which is smart- less trimming to do. 

I can wear this one as an overshirt as well.   I think that working with plaids can be really fun.  You do need to make sure that you order extra fabric, because the larger the plaid, the more likely it is that you will have to move your pattern pieces away from each other so that you can match the side seams, sleeve seams, or whatever else you would like to match!  For a small plaid, I would order at least 1/2 yard extra.  For a plaid like this, I would order a full yard more.  Let me tell you about my plaid placement. So, there were thick horizontal red stripes, and they were 18 inches apart.  I decided to place one thick horizontal red stripe at the bust line, and the next thick red stripe would fall near the hem.  Then, on the back, I matched the horizontal stripes, and used the vertical thick red stripe down the center.  I turned the yoke piece to lay crosswise so that I could get one more large red stripe on the back.

I chose this pattern because I wanted a straight dress with no waist seam, and I was also curious about the hidden placket.  For some reason, I've never been able to wrap my head around the concept of a hidden placket.  After making two of these, I think I've got it!  Here's what the hidden placket looks like when it is pulled back.

I also added a couple of pockets, cut on the bias, and made a sash, using the thick red stripe.  I'll probably wear the dress without the sash at home, but if I go out, it will be a nice option to have.  I think this will be a great farmer's market dress.  The tote that I'm holding is one that my daughter brought back from Madagascar!  It's great for shopping.

For my second dress, I used a cotton/lycra shirting in blue and white.  I thought that I would like having the added lycra, but honestly, I preferred working with the 100% cotton.  The lycra adds quite a bit of weight, and this one doesn't drape as nicely as the first dress.  The fabric would probably have been better made into a fitted shirtdress.  If I make this pattern again, I'll stick with 100% cotton shirtings.  But, I do love the colors on this one, and I'm sure that I will wear it- it is just when comparing the two fabrics, this style works better with the 100% cotton.

For this dress, I put the yoke on the bias, and tried to center one of the dark stripes down the center front and back. I also put the cuffs on the bias, but since I've got them rolled up here, you can't see them.  I had also put bias pockets on the front of the dress like the first one, but because this one doesn't have quite the drape of the first, the pockets made it look a little like a lab coat, so I took them off.  For the same reason, I don't think that this one works as an overshirt- just a little too stiff.

Here is the hidden placket on this one:

Because these are yarn dyed plaids and look exactly the same on both sides, the sleeve area and the cuff were tricky, as those pieces are directional.  I really struggled with that on this one- and ended up having to switch sides on the sleeves because I had the cuffs attached the wrong direction.  There is a small error in the cuff instructions- it says to turn under the cuff facing edge by 1/4".  It should be fold under 5/8", and then trim it to 1/4".  The illustration shows it correctly, just not the text.

I need to find a good photo tutorial on how to sew sleeves with cuffs and continuous lap, because the small illustrations in the pattern are clearly not enough for me.  Please leave a comment if you know of a good tutorial on this!

I'm excited to make more of these now, and have already ordered more shirting fabric to do so.  I'm still in my Americana mood from my mini-wardrobe entry, so more red, white and blue are on the way.

Do you like working with plaids?  Do you have a favorite shirtdress pattern?  And do you think about sun protection when you are sewing summer clothing?

Happy Sewing!