It has been so gloriously sunny and hot here in Oxford for the last few weeks, I have pretty much been living in lightweight cotton frocks that aren’t super fitted to keep cool. Enter my new #MinervaMake for June this year — a super summery shirt dress, using a classic cotton gingham that Minerva gifted me. Head over to Minerva to read up my blog post there or scroll down for more details and photos!
I am such a fan of gingham for summer; my navy gingham seersucker Hannah dress is one of my most worn dresses when the weather gets warm, and I still reach for my royal blue gingham blouse when I fancy wearing separates. Gingham is just so cheerful and sweet! This cotton gingham from Minerva is especially so, given the sunshine yellow hue. It is a yarn-dyed woven, not printed, which means the yellow shade is so vibrant against the white checks. This fabric is airy, has a smooth hand, with a semi-fluid drape, and it is 100% cotton. When it is hot like this, I really do prefer to wear all-natural fibres — but more often than not, I find cotton ginghams blended with polyester, so you can imagine that I was really happy to find this pure cotton version! As it is 100% cotton, it was stable, easy to sew, and made all the pressing needed to make a sharp collar simple (I still have nightmares about the time I tried to make a notched collar in a viscose challis as a beginner. WHAT WAS I THINKING). The check width is 3/8″, which I think is a pretty perfect size for this style of dress. I did find this fabric to be fairly lightweight, so to stay on the safe side, I have been wearing a pale pink silk slip underneath my dress to preserve (the sparse remnants of!) my modesty.
I have a known weakness for shirt dresses and have already made several different patterns, but I picked up Simplicity 8014 in a recent sale to try out. S8014 works for a variety of stable woven fabrics (like cotton poplin, chambray, seersucker, and sateen, as well as linens and lightweight denims), so I knew it would work perfectly with my sunshine yellow gingham cotton. There are long sleeves, two different collar designs, and either slim or full skirt. I went for View A, as I adore the process of making a proper two-piece collar and I really wanted a midi-length, full skirt dress.*
*So some of the more eagle-eyed of you may notice this is distinctly not midi-length. Honestly, I had a total brain fart when hemming; I had pinned one side of the dress up at knee-length and the other pinned at mid-shin to compare, and then started cutting at the knee-length line by accident. I am just totally blaming the heat for this blunder 😅
I made a few other design changes, including swapping the long sleeves out for the By Hand London Jenna tie-sleeves for some extra-summer vibes. As this dress is unlined, I opted to face the yoke for neatness and used the burrito-method — Closet Core Patterns have a really helpful walkthrough which I used to guide me. I also cut the collar and yoke on the cross-grain, to break up the gingham and create some visual interest at the back of the dress.
I made up this dress in a size 14, which is a size bigger than I usually make in Big 4 patterns; I just fancied whipping something up quickly without faffing about with an FBA, which I know is pretty lazy of me. There is a lot of visible ease in the back bodice, waist and below my bust in the front bodice, but I am not that fussed by the relaxed fit — I often like to wear something airy and not super fitted in warm weather. I found all the instructions easy to follow, and I like the pleats at the waistband to give shaping instead of darts. I used my holy grail guide of making a collar and am so pleased with how this one turned out — it is definitely my best one to date! I finished my dress with these gorgeous ‘Chai Latte’ resin Pigeon Wishes buttons.
I am so happy with my relaxed fit shirt dress, and couldn’t be happier with the quality of this cotton gingham. I feel fit for a picnic in this outfit! After seeing the Barbie movie trailer, I am eyeing up the baby pink colourway now — turns out, there is no such thing as too much gingham 😊