Well here’s something you might not expect from me: a retro shirt dress with a full gathered skirt! I was chosen to pattern test Pauline Alice‘s first sewing pattern, the Camí Dress. It’s not something I would make for myself, but I had lots of fun making it and it was so good to strengthen my skills that come with such a dress. And you know what? I kind of really like how it looks on me!
There are two versions to sew: Version A has short sleeves, Version B has 3/4 cuffed sleeves. At first I thought I’d take the easier short sleeve route, but then I saw that the cuffs had no placket but a slit. I love that Pauline kept the cuff simple. If a project has too many advanced details it tends to slow me down. Now you can focus on getting the collar and buttonholes perfect, and still have a relatively quick project. I used a lightweight cotton with shiny embroidered dots. The pattern does not require a lining. And it has pockets!
The instructions are clear and straightforward. No room for chitchat, just what you need to know. There are lots of illustrations to accompany the steps. I did read every word though, as I have only made a collar twice (I think?) and a button down shirt once. What I also like is that even with a narrow waist and broad hips, it doesn’t make you look big. My waist and hips are three size columns apart, so I was afraid the gathers would make my hips look gigantic. I comtemplated making a fitted skirt (which would be an awesome pattern hack anyway) but stuck to the gathers and I’m glad I did.
I did have some fit issues because I am tall (178cm/5 feet 10″) and broadshouldered. If I close the top buttons the shoulders are pulled inwards, but I like it better open anyway. The adjustments I made were lowering the shoulders 1 cm, lowering the front darts 2 cm, and adding 5 cm to the hemline. It’s still just a bit above my natural waist. Lowering the shoulders gave me more room in the armholes as well, but it has distorted the fit of the sleeves a bit ofcourse. I made these adjustments after cutting the pieces so this was all I could do. That’s why you should always make a muslin, or at least compare your measurements to the pattern’s. Because I never sew fitted shirts I didn’t know what my fit issues would be.
If you’d like to make the Camí dress yourself, go get it here!