Penny for my thoughts

I’m thinking of renaming my blog. Confessions of a Broken Record sounds about right, since today’s post is about yet another shirt dress. That Winslow culottes post probably lulled you into a false sense of security, but mwhahaha here I am to talk to you about my Penny dress!

My love of Sew Over It’s patterns is well-documented, and I had to have this one as soon as it was released in June. Of course I did; it’s a shirt dress. The Penny is a casual day dress, with a button-up bodice and a circle skirt attached to an elasticated waist. I reckon I’ve been missing out on a whole world of swishing and twirling since I last made a circle skirt several years ago, so it’s definitely time to give it another go.


To maximise my Penny’s swish factor, I went for this summery rayon (unfortunately out of stock) from Harts Fabric’s online store. I am fast falling in love with Harts – they’ve got a great selection and their service is really prompt. I managed to eke the dress out of 2.5 yards (the US is not on board with the metric system) with a bit of pattern Tetris and some single layer cutting.


This is the only side photo I got where I wasn’t gurning. Looking at this pic, I may add an extra bit of length in the bodice as it’s pulling up slightly at the front.

Now, normally I find SOI’s instructions super clear. Really, it’s difficult to go too far wrong with their patterns, but this time I found them a bit confusing in a few places. I had to add notches to the skirt waistline so I could attach the bodice evenly, while the button placket construction was just a bit odd. You’re supposed to partially fold the facing out to the front of the bodice, but the instructions don’t specify by how much. It was only by looking at a kink in the facing piece that I had an idea of what was supposed to happen. It didn’t really make sense until attaching the collar. I think this could put off an adventurous beginner.

Other than those little blips the dress came together really nicely. A special shout out should go to Chris, who very patiently helped me level out the hem. I left it to hang for a day and in that time the bias shifted by 3.5 inches (apparently I’m not on board with the metric system either). Since I don’t have a dummy anymore I had to put it on to mark it accurately. Chris got his tape measure out and diligently marked out an even line with pins. He was bothered it wasn’t right but I think his eyes were playing tricks on him as it looks pretty good to me.


Of course, I love this dress. As soon as I finished the hem I spent a good hour swishing and twirling around the flat in it. It’s light and floaty and will see me through the summer very nicely. I’ll definitely be making more, because I am so not over making shirt dresses just yet (not sorry) but I’ll make sure I’ve got my June/July sewing plans out of the way first.

Do you get obsessed with sewing particular garments?


16 thoughts on “Penny for my thoughts

  1. Leigh says:

    Love it! And I love your twirling photos. Well done to you and Chris having the patience to level the hem. I’d get fed up and fidget so much it would be just as wonky after leveling.

    I got a bit confused by the facing bit too, I think they could do with a notch where you’re supposed to fold it under. And an extra sentence somewhere telling you that the facing is also a button placket. I changed the order of steps as well and did all the collar before the side seams so I could stitch the back facing down more easily. Doing that at the end made no sense to me.

    • Jo says:

      Yeah, I don’t think the instructions were quite up to SOI’s usual standards – shame, cos I loved the dress as soon as I saw it. I may follow suit on my next one and stitch the facing down earlier on – it was a little bit of a faff to do it at the end, I agree. However, I’m just glad they included it in the first place – I hate that the facing on the vintage shirt dress just flaps around and is generally difficult to iron.

      I want to make another one but Chris doesn’t seem to happy about levelling another hem… 😉

  2. Lynsey says:

    Such a gorgeous dress, it looks fabulous on you and I love the colour/ print 💗 I’m not keen on high necklines/collars but this looks like it lies pretty open, the swishy skirt is 👌👌

    • Jo says:

      Thanks! I like making things that would work in the office as well as for everyday wear – I think shirt dresses are so versatile that they’d do for both.

  3. Back to Blighty says:

    I love your Penny dress! Great choice of fabric and a pattern that I am very tempted to buy. Great swishy photos too! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s