Friday, 28 June 2019

Sew Over It Penny Dress

I've made three shirtdresses recently, but the other two are for another post.    This one is the Sew Over It Penny dress.  I liked the look of the looser fit on this dress (the waist is gathered with an elastic channel), and it's a bit different from the other shirtdresses that I've made before. 

I couldn't decide between a size 8 and size 10, so went with the size 10 to allow for a bit of room in the bust.  Also, and brace yourself (!!), I didn't make a toile.  Annnnnd, the bodice was too big.  So I took it in by 1/2" on each side seam, and took a generous inch off the grow on sleeves.

The instructions for the placket had me scratching my head, but then I found this great post from the Sew Over It blog, which explained it perfectly. 

I love this yoke detail on the shoulders.
On the other hand, the bodice length was perfect on me, as I've seen a few people saying it was a bit short.  I also changed the full circle skirt to a half circle skirt.  This was because I felt the full circle would be too much fabric on my small frame, and also, much less fabric to hem. 



I drafted the half circle skirt using the instructions in a book called Freehand Fashion by Chinelo Bally (who, you may remember, was on The Great British Sewing Bee and was a-maz-ing).

I measured the waist seam on the front and back of the bodice, including the seam allowances - this gives half the measurement for the front and back waist.  For the bodice front, I measured to the centre of the finished button placket.

In interests of full disclosure - I am absolutely useless at maths; so if I can do this, then so can anybody.  Here's what I did:

My front measurement was 25.75 cm, and the back was 27 cm.

Multiply the measurement by 4, then divide by 3.14.  So my sums were -


27cm x 4 = 108 cm

108cm divided by 3.14 = 34.39.  Round this down to 34 cm


25.75 cm x 4 = 103 cm

103 cm divided by 3.14 = 32.8.  Round this down to 32.5 cm.

If you're making a size 10, then these numbers will work.

Then you get a bit of paper which has all the sides longer than the calculated measurements, I used some drawing paper from Ikea that comes on a roll.  One corner needs to be a right angle, so I used my pattern drafting ruler to make sure it was.  Fold the paper so the two sides of the right angle meet each other, like if you were making a paper plane.

I'm over-complicating!  Look at the two photos below, the first is folded, the second is unfold.

Then get a ruler, and measure from the point of the page (where the pen is pointing to in the photo below) along boths edges with the calculated measurements and mark it.  I think there's a fancy mathematical term for this - I have no clue what it is!  In the photo below I measuring 34 cm for the back.

Then use the ruler to measure from the point of the page along the width of the page.  These are the two lines marked in black (ignore the pencil line with the Xs through it!).  This will be the waist line for the back and front, and will be the same as your calculated measurement.

In the above photo you can see two lines marked 27cm Back and 25.75 Front, because both can be done on the same bit of paper! 

Trace the waist line onto some pattern paper, then extend the side edges down to the skirt length including waist seam allowance and hem, and measure down along the waist line for the skirt hem.  One edge will be the centre front/back, and the other the side seam, and the pieces get cut out on the fold.  

Alternatively, you can use one of those tracing wheel thingies to go over the waistlines onto the folded page below, then fold it out and mark the entire waist as in the below photo.  Extend the side edges and waist to hem for the skirt length, and the pieces can be cut out on a single layer.

This includes the seam allowances, so you don't even need to add them on afterwards!  Hurray!!  (Geez, that was long more long-winded than I expected - hope it makes sense!).

Because I have a separate skirt front and back, I have side seams; and than means I have pockets...  

The fabric is some red gingham from ebay.  It looks a bit like seer sucker, and I thought it was cotton, but I think there's a bit of  poly in it.  

This isn't my favourite of my three shirtdresses, but it's growing on me and it's great for the lovely weather we're having this week, which is about flipping time!

Have a great weekend,



  1. Lovely dress Lynne! The shoulder yoke and extended shoulders (is that the right term?) make it look very chic and special. Love the way it gathers onto that yoke. The red gingham looks very summery. By the way I just happened to notice your How To section and was delighted to see your tutorial on adding side pockets with a side zip. This is something I've been wanting to do with a trouser pattern and was puzzling over so now I'm going to give that a go. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Elaine! I love that detail on the shoulder too, I think it really makes the bodice. Glad my zip how-to is helpful, it took ages to work it out, but I'm very glad I did!

  2. Lovely dress Lynne - glad to hear it's growing on you, even if it isn't your favourite (not all dresses can be our favourite, can they?). Penny looks good with a half circle skirt instead of the full circle!

    1. Thanks Ruth! That's very true about not all dresses can be our favourite. It they were, it would be very hard to pick one in the morning!

  3. Red dresses are the best! love the little details on this one, and that belt <3

    1. Thanks Colette! Red dresses for the win!!

  4. Another super-wearable dress Lynne! I can remember being very impressed by Chinelo's pattern cutting skills on the Sewing Bee.


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