S/S 2017: Road Trip Part 1 (Reeta Shirt Dress by Named Patterns)

Remember way back in April when I made ALL THE (vague) PLANS for my spring/summer wardrobe?  Okay well it’s a good thing this is a blog so you don’t actually have to remember, you can just click here.  Anyway, I just went on a road trip and I have at least two more planned, so I think I can still fulfill this goal.

This is the Reeta midi shirt dress from Named.  I usually find their patterns very pretty and stylish, but for some reason I always thought I fell slightly outside of their size range and had written them off a long time ago.  I checked the size chart for this dress, however, because I kept seeing so many wonderful versions online.  Some of their patterns max out at a size US 14, but others go up to a US 18.  I was delighted to find that I was well within the size range for this rather loose-fitting dress.

Because it had been quite a while since I last made a garment (do bras count?), I decided it would be best to make a muslin.  I pulled some navy blue rayon twill that had been sitting in the stash for a few years.  I bought it from Hart’s back when I didn’t understand how much fabric I’d need for certain projects.  Two yards was only enough for a shirt version, but most of my fit adjustments were up top anyway.

Adjustments Round 1:

  • Cut a size 10 at the shoulders/bust/waist, and graded out to a 14 from the waistline to the vent/side slit.  There’s a lot of design ease, but I wanted to keep it loose and flowing.
  • Shortened length by 3″ (dress is drafted for someone who is 5′ 8″ and I am about 5′ 5″)
  • 1/2″ narrow shoulder adjustment (using this technique for slashing the yoke, and this technique for removing width at the top of the shoulder)
  • Lowered the bust dart 1″
  • 1″ FBA

I realized that I deleted all the photos I took of myself in the shirt, so I had to pull these from Instagram.  There’s nothing super special about it, though, so you’re not missing much.

Construction is pretty simple, and even though I am slow I managed to finish it in 2 days.  There’s no topstitching in the instructions, but I guess you could add that if you so desired.  I kind of like the breezy clean look without it.

The only part I had to unpick was the collar.  There were two reasons for this: 1) I didn’t stay stitch the neckline, so it had stretched a bit and 2) the collar pattern piece had a crazy-looking curved angle at the end that made it virtually impossible to get into the neckline.  I did some digging and found that many people had the same issue, so I think it really is the pattern and not my own ineptitude.  This version is still wearable because the sins are mostly hidden under the collar itself.  Otherwise, I was pretty happy with the fit.


Here I have compared the collar pattern piece to Butterick B6296, a pajamas pattern with a similar collar style and construction.  You can see a big difference in the shape of the collar.

Adjustments Round 2:

  • Fixed collar by smoothing out the curve at the front edge
    • It went in SO MUCH BETTER!  Here’s how I did it:
      • 1) marked all seam allowances and measured the length of each seam line (to make sure the collar still fit into the neckline after adjustments)
      • 2) traced the pattern onto tissue paper
      • 3) used my curved ruler (I use this one) to smooth out the curve and make it less sloped.
      • 4) measured length of seam line – it was 1/4″ shorter than before (which makes sense, a straighter curve will also be shorter).  I slashed and spread down the middle of the collar (just to the right of the notch) to add back the 1/4″.
      • 5) added the seam allowance
  • Went back and forth trying to decide if I needed a broad upper back adjustment, and in the end decided against it.  I have pretty good ROM, but might do the adjustment in the future.  We’ll see!
  • When hemming the sleeves, I folded them up 2.5″ instead of the 2″ in the instructions.  I did this because 1) I thought the sleeves were a tad too long and 2) the extra 1/2″ allowed me to better hide the first line of stitches sewn when making the cuff.  I still think they’re a little long overall and might shorten them 1/2″ next time.
  • I took the time to make the pockets, but ended up not adding them.  With the drawstring waist, I couldn’t find a place to put them that didn’t seem to produce a headlights effect.  I think the print is interesting enough without them, anyway.


My mother said this was a “granny dress” and she’s probably right, but I love it.  It’s sort of my ideal summer dress: loose (yet cinched at the waist so it’s not shapeless), lightweight, long (I’ll take midi over maxi any day), pretty modest, and super breezy.  This Cotton + Steel/Rifle Paper Co. rayon challis is the perfect weight for it, and feels so soft against the skin.

I was looking for a way to incorporate the lovely selvedge and ended up using it as the drawstring casing on the inside of the dress – it’s about 3/4″ wide, which is exactly what the pattern calls for.



I was worried this dress wouldn’t travel well because rayon is prone to wrinkling.  I folded it neatly in my duffel bag (which is me-made and needs its own post) and then hung it up when I got to my sister’s apartment in NYC.  The wrinkles mostly fell out over 24 hours, and it was really comfortable to wear in the oppressive heat and humidity over the weekend.

I also got my sister to take a few pics of me in front of some street art/murals in Chinatown.

We (my two younger sisters and I) had a really fun long weekend in NYC.  I sadly did not have a lot of time for fabric shopping, and honestly I do not need any more fabric, but I did drag them to Mood for a brief look through the non-designer silks.  (Oh yes, it was hard to tear myself way from the designer silks – I’m still dreaming of one light pink one covered in huge green pears that was priced at $40/yd.)  I walked away with 3.5 yards of a geometric silk CDC ($16/yd, if you’re curious) – just enough for a specific dress pattern I had in mind.  It’s hard to capture the colors – it’s actually sort of a baby blue color and the lines are neon yellow.

I last visited the garment district about 5 years ago and left empty handed after becoming totally overwhelmed by the selection.  Has this happened to any of you?  Since then, I’ve learned to go in with a plan.  And even though I really don’t need to go fabric shopping, I’d love to go back and visit some of the trimmings shops.  The button selection at JoAnn’s leaves quite a bit to be desired.


MMM ’17: Days 26-31

Well, I think it’s pretty clear I fell off the selfie train!  I did stick to my pledge, but became pretty bad at documenting it.  The previous week was super busy with preparations for a family party and my sister’s graduation, and on top of that I lost my blank white wall when my (other) sister moved back into her room for a bit.  Then the summer semester started and woweewow is it a doozy.  Five-week courses are understandably fast-paced, but I really failed to understand that I’d be grading labs and tests pretty much daily the entire time.  I’m two weeks in and already feeling the pain.  I imagine my stress also has to do with the fact that Ramadan has begun and I average about 4 hours of sleep a night now.  I’m gonna need a mental health day soon.


Anyway, enough whining from me!  Let’s talk about what I learned from my first wholehearted attempt at Me Made May.

  • I wore my Ginger jeans ALL THE TIME.  Jeans haven’t fit me this well since, um, maybe middle school?  Before I got hips?  Yeah I basically stopped wearing them after high school because the gaping waist and low rise were too uncomfortable.  I just love the custom fit of these handmade and high-waisted ones, though!
  • I prefer to balance volume on the top and bottom.  I feel uncomfortable when everything is fitted (like my Nettie dress I wore earlier in the month), and kind of sloppy and amorphous when I’m wearing something totally oversized.
  • I love colors and prints!  They seriously brighten my mood.  I remember a day in grad school when this girl in my lab was telling me a story about a drab friend of hers who wore gray every day and it made her (the story-teller) so sad (she was a bit superficial, now that I recall).  A little later I was in the bathroom and noticed that I had unintentionally dressed myself in THREE different shades of solid gray.  Not fifty, but still way too many! (Also makes me think that the story was directed at me personally???!!)
  • Posing for photos and taking selfies is really hard.  Duh.
  • I’m a recluse.  I rarely leave the house if I don’t have to.  I need more pretty at-home clothes so I don’t feel like a slob.
  • The tops I enjoyed wearing most often were fitted knits and looser button-downs.  The buttons downs are kind of a revelation.  I’m sorting through my stash for more of these types of shirt patterns to make up now that I know what I like.
  • I hate polyester.  Most of my work blouses are polyester and they’re terrible and static-clingy.  I want more natural fibers in my wardrobe.
All of my revelations in one outfit: Gingers, button down, natural fibers, balanced volume, comfortably casual, awkward pose.  There’s also little colorful specks in the weave of the chambray that you can’t see from afar.  Bonus natural face bc I had just driven 5 hours to NYC at the crack of dawn.

Since I have minimal sewing time for the next three weeks (until the class is over), I’ll spend some of my free time working through The Curated Closet and planning for projects to make during my break. Correspondence here might be patchy for a while, but I’ve still got a backlog of handmades waiting to be blogged.

How’d you all do with your pledges?  Or did you enjoy watching others make selfie-fools out of themselves?