31 Days · DIY · Style · Thrifts

31 Days: The Thrift Project – Day 11: The Shirt Dress

I love a good oxford shirt. The crisp cotton, sleeves that can be rolled up, top button open to show off a great necklace. And it’s so versatile – alone, layered under sweaters or blazers. And let’s be honest, I’m kind of preppy at heart.

So of course, I love shirt dresses. An oxford and a skirt all in one? Heaven.

So when I found this chambray shirt dress, I knew it was a winner. Fun snaps, cute pleated waist with a full skirt, and pockets.  But do you know what’s not so cute?

Bat wings! Seriously, is this flattering on anyone? Fitted is preferable to bat wings, every time. Let me give you a closer look to show you how large these wings are. I mean, the armpit seam is almost to my waist!

Notice the the waist fits very well, so this is not a case of a dress being too big. Oh no, not at all.

This actually has me a little worried. I mean, have you noticed most things that were the height of fashion in the 80’s and early 90’s are cycling back through? I just saw a magazine spread highlighting nubuck oxford shoes – remember these? I had a pair of Bass ones. They’ve never really gone out of style for men (does anything?), but I remember having a pair when I was in middle school. If I wore it in middle school, I’m not wearing it again. (Black felt fedora with a big bow, I’m talking to you.)

I’m really hoping bat wing arms don’t make a comeback.

I start by making a mark under my arm showing how far to take it in. Then I measure and make some chalk marks to make it the same on both sides.

Using a straight edge, I make a chalk line from that mark to the waist. And then I realize that I’ve marked up the outside of the dress, not the inside, where I need to sew it. Oops! So I turn it inside out and mark it again. Then I stitch along that chalk line up to the sleeve seam. I could keep sewing down the sleeves, but I’m still not sure what I want to do with them yet. And at that moment, Baby Girl wakes up from nap, and it’s time to go get Big Boy at preschool, so I have more time to ponder the sleeves.

I decide to go with a gathered cuff. I’m hoping it takes away the bat wing effect and keeps it feminine.

I don’t have a lot of pictures of the process, mostly because I forgot I had a dentist appointment during kids’ nap times, and then when I got home, Baby Girl had decided she didn’t want to nap, so there went my sewing time. Picture me stitching away by the light of a candle into the wee hours of morning – something like that. OK, more like stitching away in bad lighting after the kids are in bed. Still, no pics except this one:

Basically, I cut off the sleeve partway down, then cut a 2-inch strip from each of the sleeve leftovers. I sewed these into circles and folded them in half to create the cuffs.

Then, I loosened the tension on my sewing machine and ran a large stitch around the opening of the sleeves (I used pink and black thread to make it easy to see.) Grasping one of the threads, I pulled the sleeves in to create a gather. I then pinned the cuff to the gathered sleeve and sewed them together.

Much better sleeve. Down with bat wings!

I think this dress is really cute. That’s why I had to do a semi-curtsy here.


This post is part of a 31 Day series. Find all the posts in this series here.


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7 thoughts on “31 Days: The Thrift Project – Day 11: The Shirt Dress

  1. Great Job! I guess I can go ahead and throw out the Bass oxford shoes (that are in my closet) unless you want to make them into something else. Ha!

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