I liked this pattern as soon as I saw it – I like shirtdresses and the easy, relaxed style of the Camp Dress looked right up my street. As you may or may not know already, I usually try and think of a variation on a theme when I’m making one of Liesl Gibson’s garments as I contribute occasionally to her blog, but in this case, my immediate thought was more along the lines of styling. One of the big things I love about shirtdresses of any kind is the fact you can dress them up or down very easily. I’ve posted a blog entry showing off seven ways I like to wear shirtdresses over at the Oliver + S blog, so if you’d like to see what I came up with, head over there!
I’ll keep this short and sweet, but a few details on the project follow. I actually made this dress at the tail-end of last autumn, and the first thing to say is that the fabric is AMAZING. I’m sure you’ve seen the range by now, but it’s one of the latest rayons from Ruby Star Society – the new company from the ladies that brought you Cotton and Steel – and this particular fabric is from one of my all-time favourite designers, Sarah Watts.
This fabric is so soft and swishy and lovely and there are a couple of subtle differences between it and the Cotton and Steel rayon. This fabric definitely feels slightly more sueded to me, which is not a good or bad thing – just a thing – and I happen to like it. The other thing I noticed is that it needs a cooler iron and slimmer pins than the Cotton and Steel base rayon. I don’t know if it’s this particular colourway saturation, but the fabric needed a little more delicate handling than I’m used to. It did wash and line-dry like a dream though, I must say.
The Camp Dress (and shirt) is, unsurprisingly, a shirt and dress pattern with a camp collar. Liesl said she was inspired by park ranger’s uniforms, which makes my feline fabric even more appropriate I think! There are two views, and I made the dress, View B, which has a curved hem and short cuffed sleeves. The View A shirt has long sleeves with a button cuff and tower placket, although you can of course mix and match as you like. This pattern also has cup sizes A through D – hooray!
There’s quite a bit of design ease built into this design. I wanted to retain that look, so I traced a 14D at the shoulders and armhole and graded to an 18 through the length of the dress. If I’d made this in a lawn or something with less drape, I think I would have graded to a 16 only. The other adjustment I made was to lower the bust dart by an inch. I tried to do it the lazy way first, by redrawing the legs to a new apex, but the angle of the dart looked weird, so I did it “properly” and cut out and lowered the dart, before trueing the seams.
The instructions are marvellous as always. I feel like I’m slightly off my sewing game at the moment and my finishing could have been neater – particularly on the yoke and the gathered sleeves. Or perhaps I’m just noticing these things more, but it’s something I want to pay attention to for this year, as mentioned in my recent 2019 reflections post. For some reason my lapel points aren’t as pronounced as on the pattern picture or other versions I’ve seen and I have no idea why, but there we are. I must have mis-measured or mis-sewn somewhere along the line, I guess.
The way the instructions have you sew the short-sleeved cuffs is my favourite method I’ve come across thus far for a neat finish: you put the cuff inside the sleeve, right sides together and stitch at 1/2 an inch. Finish the seams and pull the cuff outside, then fold back and stitch the folded edge down. No stitching in the ditch and worrying about catching the seam inside.
I left out the pockets. I wasn’t necessarily intending to, but I cut a pair and look what happened…
I posted this on Instagram and it was one of my most popular posts all year. You might have seen it already, but it’s relevant to this post, I guess. I was planning to pattern-match the pockets after this, but my fabric was at a minimum and, since the print is quite busy anyway, I decided simply to forego them altogether. In a solid I would definitely add them for interest, but this version is fine without.
I finished the dress with grey and black buttons that I thought looked a little like cat’s eyes and coordinated well. It’s a fairly fast sew with the camp collar and no pockets and a pleasurable one at that. And that’s about it! I’ve already worn it several times and it has been complimented every one of those times. I really like it!