I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect shirt-dress pattern with no luck but when I saw the Novelista shirt I had an idea – what if I lopped off the tail end of the shirt and put a skirt on it? Bam – instant shirt-dress!
The classic button-down Novelista was a perfect base pattern to start with and I especially liked that it has princess seams rather than darts. Makes it easy to fit and fast to sew.
I had bought this blue/yellow chambray cotton from The Cloth Pocket here in Austin but since I didn’t know exactly how much I needed I only had barely enough fabric for the long sleeves and skirt. I had to get creative with the fabric cutting but it worked.
I really wanted to use these coconut buttons but didn’t have enough to do the full-length dress plus cuffs and button tabs and pocket flaps so I nixed the tabs and flaps. I even had to sew in a couple hidden snaps on the placket, too – one near the hem and one near the waist. It works, though.
I topstitched the whole dress with gold thread and I even added a couple embroidery thread belt loops on the waist.
Now, if you want to make your own Novelista Shirt-dress it’s not that difficult.
1. First, shorten all the shirt pieces to waist level. I did this by holding the front side piece up to my body under my arm and folding the piece where it met my waist. I then used that adjusted piece to alter all the other pieces.
2. Sew up the body of the shirt like normal (except for the button placket) and try it on inside out.
Use pins to pinch out excess fabric around the waist at all of the seamlines and re-sew the seams. I took out about 1/2″ from each of the 6 seams. (Quick note: the center back shouldn’t have a seam in it. I just accidentally cut my pattern piece in half, oops.)
3. Add your preferred skirt style. I made a half-circle skirt but you could do pleats, gathers, gores, whatever. You can even take the skirt pieces from another pattern that fits. Be sure to true up the skirt waistline to match the bodice and sew.
4. Measure the center front from neck to hem and use that number to cut out new placket pieces (I didn’t have enough fabric for one long piece so my placket is seamed together at the waist).
5. Finish the dress like normal and hem the skirt.