‘School days’ pinafore shift dress

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I finally made something cold weather-friendly! I started a new job recently ( 🙂 Yay! So excited! It’s wonderful!) so I really wanted something handmade to wear that is for winter (because winter never seems to end) and works well with layers.

I was really excited about the idea of this dress but I’m not sure I have really pulled it off. I wanted the shift dress to be super simple so that I could wear turtle necks and long sleeve tops under it.

Not sure I like the pocket placement or the length (I intentionally made it slightly longer so as to be more suitable for work). I took a lot of care when cutting out the front and back pieces of the dress but not much when cutting out the pockets. Big mistake!

The fabric was wonderful to work with. Not certain of the fiber content but it presses really well.

The tartan certainly takes me back to my high school days (in Australia a lot of school uniforms are made of similar fabrics to this)…

Thinking back those final 2 years of high school were some of my happiest. Maths stopped being compulsory and I started doing really well academically because I was enthusiastic and interested in work/school subjects.

If only I kept this up after my design course! I really started to lose confidence in myself after completing my design course…
I remember the fun I had with friends back in high school. I was an outsider back then but at that point I really embraced who I was- being different and not hiding it. As you can imagine I was never one of the ‘cool’ people. In my small group of friends we were all very different from one another but we had fun and laughed a lot. I didn’t keep in contact with any of them and I really regret this!

I started dating my (still current boyfriend) back then and we are still so happy together! I remember going to so many concerts (ska bands and what not ha ha ha) with him back then, in my doc martens and customized clothing.

Things may have changed a lot but luckily the bad memories seem to have faded into the background. I do think things are much better now! I just have to make an effort to be positive (especially about myself) I want to keep creating good memories! I don’t want to look back on this time in life and think I wasted it beating myself up about things and worrying!

Sorry that was pretty heavy! I just remembered this is a sewing blog so lets talk about the dress…

Sewing nitty gritty:

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I discovered some nifty things whilst making this dress. My favorite discovery was using my blind hem foot when attaching patch pockets. You just need to experiment with the positioning of the needle and then it’s magic! The plate on the foot acts as a great guide when stitching around the pocket. Yay!

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Another thing I did with this dress was to lengthen my stitch and do basting intermittently on parts where the tartan had to match at the zip BEFORE stitching the other side of the invisible zip on completely (a tough one to explain) I felt this really helped because sometimes lots of pins are just not enough!

Reasonably good stripe matching at the invisible zipper (below)…

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I also basted the pockets on before stitching them properly and unpicked the basting later (changing my stitch length to the longest avaible stitch length for ease of unpicking). I prefer this to pinning the patch pockets on because pins can get in the way!

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Want to see how i created my patch pockets? Secret lining!

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The pattern I used for this dress was from an old burda style magazine (9/2008 style 106 size 10/36). I did make a muslin of this pattern before hand. I got excited because I thought perhaps I had found the ultimate shift dress pattern. I realize now that finding the ultimate shift dress is much like finding the ultimate pair of jeans…a quest without an end! haha

I have another dress lined up using this sewing pattern- should be fun to see how this pattern will work for a shorter dress in marimekko fabric :). When I work with this pattern again I am going to let out the side seams.

Obviously this style is not intended to be fitted at the waist, but I do feel like there is not enough ease at my hips (kind of rare for me).! If you have never worked with burda patterns before, but want to try please bear in mind they have a LOT less wearing ease! It may just be due to my change in size recently but I really think burda patterns are more fitted and true to size than the big 4.

The patch pocket was taken from another pattern (McCalls 6322). I’m working on a dress using this pattern too, but why not mix and match pockets if you have found one that works of you?!

Other things worth mentioning…

Using lots of pins when working with stripes 😉

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All-in-one neckline facing (before I graded and turned it)…

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My (almost) matching ‘unmatched’ pockets :S :p argh!

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So close! -at least the stitching around the pockets is good.

The last images are an ode to how much I love my blind hem foot. Stitches on the skirt hem are totally hidden! 🙂

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28 comments
  1. Mags said:

    I really like it, honestly the pockets look good and I like the length on you. Very suitable for work.

    • Yay! Glad you think the pockets and length work! Thanks x

  2. Laura said:

    Oooh, I love it! Pinafore dresses are the best for winter workwear. It reminds me of a school uniform in the very best way – i.e. not my old uniform (smurf blue polo shirts and sweatshirts – lovely).

    I think everyone finds it hard to always be positive and not worry. It sounds a bit silly, but when I feel dragged down by worrying about something I have to do, I think about what two of my most confident friends would do. Generally, that means gathering all available facts so I feel prepared for whatever ridiculous thing I’m panicking about is, and then just doing it. If in doubt, pretend to be someone else, that’s my motto!!

    • Thanks!! 😄

      That’s great advice! I like the idea of channeling someone you admire. X great approach!

  3. This is so cute! Only you could pull off a plaid pinafore. 🙂 My high school years sound similar to yours- I was new as a freshman and quite shy, but by the second half, I was more confident to just be myself even if I wasn’t cool. 🙂

    • Thank you! aww 😀 Wow I would have never pictured you as ever being shy. You seem so outgoing 🙂 I guess we have all changed since then. Yes! in the final year or two people start to mature and they allow others to be themselves more which is great!

  4. I love this one too! it’s so cute and the pockets look perfect to me. I always find these dresses very tricky in terms of fitting but you seem to get it so right, I can’t imagine you with any other style. I like the length as well!! xx

    • This is just the loveliest comment! Thank you 🙂 I wasn’t sure If got the fit right so that is so nice to hear. You really are so kind! Xxx

  5. This is a lovely winter work dress. You seem to have found your style with the shift dresses 🙂

    • Aw yay! So glad you think I suit them 🙂 just can’t stop making them! x

  6. I love this dress! And the pockets look great. I know what you mean about school uniforms – I still can’t quite bring myself to wear the same maroon shade used in ours. It’s funny what can bring back certain memories and emotions from the past.

    • Thanks! …Haha after wearing it for so long I can understand that. For sure! To me clothing really does bring back memories just as much as music does 😀

  7. If you hadn’t mentioned the pattern on the pockets I’d have assumed it was a feature. I quite like the way the pockets break up the uniform tartan. It’s a cute dress and I hope you wear it a lot.

    I’ll have to try the blind hem foot for topstitching, thanks for the tip.

    • Thanks Catherine! Yay! So pleased you like the pockets! I think i’ll have to wear it a lot- now that I know someone as stylish as you approves of it! ;).

      No probs 🙂 Let me know how you find it! You can probably tell I am slightly obsessed with the blind hem foot. I even used it on my ponti knit dress project (was too intimidated at the time to try using a twin needle for finishing it)

  8. Supercute dress! I love the fabric and your pattern matching is spot on!

    I was wondering if you’d like to take part in a Blog Hop. It involves answering 4 questions about your blog writing and then nominating 3 other bloggers to carry it on. I’ll be posting mine in a couple of days and then you’ll need to post yours a week later. Let me know if you’d like to join in and I’ll give you the details. Cheers, Coo (aka Betty Stitchup).

      • Great! Do you want to send me your email and I can send you the details through, I’m at bstitchup@gmail.com. Cheers Coo

      • I’ve just posted my blog hop post – http://bettystitchup.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/blog-hopping.html. You’ll be answering the same questions for yours, really look forward to seeing your answers next week. And you like ska music! I sing with a ska band here in Perth called the Isolites, it’s mostly our own songs and some early rocksteady/calypso stuff too – heaps of fun, I love it!

  9. Very sweet indeed! I must try a blind hem, I’ve been in denial about how easy it is for a long time!

    • Yes please give it a try 🙂 I’m sure you will love it! x

  10. Noelle said:

    Terrific shift dress! I agree – finding a perfect shift dress is a neverending – but very worthy – quest.

    • Thank you Haha yes! Glad you are with me 😉

  11. Alice said:

    This is great! I was just thinking, oh I like what she’s done with the pockets, before reading the part where you said you weren’t sure about them. The length is good, too.
    More importantly, congratulations on your new job. It’s wonderful to read that you are happier 😀

    • Yay you like the pockets! Aw Thanks Alice ☺ x

  12. Catherine said:

    So cute! I love it! And Ska music! Yay! though none of my high school friends liked it. We had tartan skirts for my school, though I wish we had a pinafores. They’re just so much cuter. It wasn’t a private school, so I guess having a particular tartan was an achievement. Most public schools just have a plain colour skirt…
    Oh and I really like your tip about the blind hem foot for the pockets! I guess that could work for top stitching on facings too, cause I always start of well and then get all crooked at home point. Good tip!
    I’m still on the hunt for a nice tartan but in cotton. Nothing seems to exist! It’s either some Christmassy themed thing, or stiff school uniform tartan! Haha

    • Haha yeah not many in my group were into ska (cept me and one other girl). I was at a public school too. Thanks! Oo yes! I’ll have to try it for facings too!
      I’ll let you know if I see any cotton tartan. I’ll keep an eye out too. I haven’t seen any lately but I managed to get some a long time ago at spotlight. It’s crazy how it’s so hard to find!

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