Two Gertie Shirtwaists! With Special Guest!

I finally finished my shirtwaist dress from Gertie’s book. Fe-yoo! I say finally because I kept needing to make changes and when I finally made a bunch of bust changes I needed to make more changes due to the change in the armscye. I basically nearly botched it. I had so much fun hanging with fellow sewcialist,ย Heather. She was doing Me-Made-May and posted more pics on her blog as well as on flickr. Heather set up a whole set of our photoshoot. We took a lot of pics.

First thing you’ll notice is that our shirtwaists look a lot alike but are also still different. For one, length. I chopped off about 6 inches of my hem at the last minute. At first I thought I had made a huge mistake (Arrested Development style) but then I actually liked it. Heather also did her fair share of convincing.

My sleeves are also shorter. This is because I kept taking away from the sleeve head. I feel like it’s a case of “If you give a mouse a cookie” (check out the children’s book hereย but the premise is that there is a chain of reaction to every action, in this case, giving a mouse a cookie, or in my case, addressing my full bust).

First, I pinched out some extra fabric in the front of the armhole of the bodice cos it was gaping. Then, I did an FBA (don’t ask why I did them in that order, I was being a dork) and it fit so I figured I’d be good to go. However, I didn’t want the underbust dart so I rotated it to the shoulder.

I shaved off about 3/4″ off each shoulder but the sleeves still hung off my shoulder. The tricky thing is that my upper arms are bulky so if I don’t balance them out with a poofy sleeve or a small shoulder pad, I often feel awkward, on account of my shoulders being so narrow in comparison to the rest of me.

But, still, the shoulders had to be dealt with. I figured I’d just finish the dress and deal with them later when I would be visiting Heather.

I stitched up the entire dress and even had all the buttons and buttonholes done, thinking I could just fiddle with the sleeves later. I needed a break from the fitting stuff.

Before heading to hang with Heather, I did do an armscye dart to take out some of the fullness I had put in when I pivoted the FBA’d underbust dart to the shoulder- I basically was sloppy doing all of that which is why it didn’t go as well as it should.

Now, however, I had taken out too much out of the circumference of the armhole. Yipes. I could still get my arm in but it was a tad snug. Other than that, everything fit and I had enough body ease for movement. Sleeves felt fine, if a little full. Still, I had to hop a plane so I left it for later.

Heather helped me and cheered me on as I basted in the sleeve 3 or 4 times, making small adjustments each time. I tell ya, she was helpful except when we laughed so hard I got distracted and adjusted the wrong sleeve. LOL

I took a lot out of the sleeve head, making my sleeves shorter but they still fit so I thought I’d be fine.

All in all, it was fine. The weather was really warm, which I love, but I think for that kind of weather a lawn would work better for this dress. Anything lightweight. I’ll still get mileage out of this dress once it cools down a bit.

I already have plans for another shirtwaist using this pattern. I like the shirring in the back a lot. It makes for a really easy fit along the waist. I will need to go back to the original sleeve and armscye and fiddle that better than I did with this version.

You probably saw a lot of other pictures Heather and I posted while we hung out. I had a blast and I even got a skirt sewn up, along with helping her with fitting some stretch pants and we both traced patterns and giggled.

The Facts:

  • I started with the size 10 of Gertie’s shirtwaist dress pattern
  • I have narrow shoulders, I think.
  • The upper part of the back of my neck seems to be narrow cos everything hangs forward on me. I kept tugging on my dress to keep it level.
  • I chopped off 6 (or was it 5) inches off the hem; serged the raw edge and stitched it up for a 1″ hem.
  • I didn’t have enough fabric for the facings so I used a black and white polka dot. You can’t really tell in the pics unless you look closely. I like it- yeah, me using TWO prints. Who knew.
  • After the FBA, I added 1.5″ to the underarm to bring it up and give me more movement. It totally worked.

Now that I’ve done all this work, I want to go back and get the sleeves figured out and make another shirtwaist. I’m looking at lightweight fabrics for summer- it’s already nice and warm.

I took notes in my sewing notebook but toward the end I forgot what all I did. How do you keep track of the pattern changes you make? Do you make pattern changes before your first muslin? Any alterations you know you’ll always need to make?

33 thoughts on “Two Gertie Shirtwaists! With Special Guest!

  1. geebeew says:

    TWO PRINTS?!?!?!?! Wowza! I think the dress looks really great on you! I love dresses that have enough ease to be comfy but also nip in at the waist in a flattering way. Well done, sewing team!

  2. Brooke says:

    A print AND polka dots! Love it! And I really like the length of the sleeves and the skirt on you! (Heather finally got her lobster dress – it’s great too!)

    Man oh man, does your post make me wish we had transporters so we could all meet up for fitting help!!!

    • Brooke says:

      Oh, and about making fit changes, I usually keep the mockup with all the safety pins in it around until I transfer the alterations to the pattern. Depending on the project and whether I think I will use the pattern again, I don’t always bother to mark up my pattern, especially if it is for a one-time client.

      • Leila says:

        Thanks Brooke. In the end I think it worked out. I’m glad I had that polka dot lying around. For some reason mixing two prints doesn’t scare me as much.

        I’m in remakeability mode. I want to work fitting and then get to play with fabric choices. I’ll have to try the safety pin idea.

  3. Heather Bee (@KnitNBee) says:

    I just want to confess that I was mostly a cheerleader saying “Yeah do that!” instead of actually suggesting fitting changes.
    It was really cool to discuss what fitting changes we did on the same pattern. In some areas we had the same problem but not in others.
    I love your test muslin dress Leila but am also excited to see what dress number 2 will look like.

    • Leila says:

      I know I’m gonna get stuck on what fabric to choose for the second go. It always happens. Another reason why I’m so grateful to SewExhausted for sending this to me.

  4. EmSewCrazy says:

    I really like the contrasting polka dots! It makes the collar stand out which would otherwise be lost in the busy print.
    I always measure my flat pattern or do a tissue fitting and add length to everything!! If I’ve traced a copy of the pattern I write it on the pattern tissue itself.

    • Leila says:

      thanks! And I totally agree that the collar would’ve gotten lost with just print. I’m thinking it would’ve looked cool to do the arm cuffs in the polka dots, too.

      Flat measuring is a smart thing to do. I do a tissue fit, too.

  5. Amanda says:

    What a great way to see two versions of the same rad pattern! I love the adjustments you’ve made with the sleeve length and hem length- super summer cute!

    • Leila says:

      I wish we could do this sort of meet-up more often. It was also a great learning opportunity for me to complain about something fitting wise and have Heather be like, oh, yeah I changed that. hehe

      I tried on a RTW sleeveless shirtwaist. After all my sleeve issues, I’m totally up for making one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Tabatha Tweedie says:

    Love! I love the contrasting facings, what a nice touch! The fit looks great and I like the shorter length and the sleeves too. Good work! I had to hack a lot of length of both of my versions of this dress due to a seriously wonky hem. I think the fabric must have stretched out of shape as I worked with it!

    • Leila says:

      Thanks! Bummer about your stretched out hem. I got so inspired by your shirtwaist as well as others as I roam thru the net. It’s so fun to see how everyone puts their personal touch on these patterns.

    • Leila says:

      Thanks. I was on such a sewcialist high I totally crashed when I got on the plane on the way home. I love Heather’s lobster dress.

  7. Tiffany says:

    Cute dress! It looks like it would be pretty easy to sew. and would come together pretty easily minus all the sleeve and FBA that you did. That is a problem I have to deal with as well, being an H cup. I do think its easier to make clothes for my curves than to buy them and this dress is an example of that being that it fits you so well. (Its really hard to find clothes that fit curves in stores). You did a great job.

    On a side note, I love the lobster dress. SO cute.

    • Leila says:

      Thanks. All the pain of my alterations is totally worth in compared to the ill fit of RTW clothes, especially woven fabrics.The shirring is nice but I wouldn’t want elastic all the way around.

      I love Heather’s lobster dress. She picks such cool fabric!

    • Leila says:

      Thanks. It was really fun to see the same dress made in different fabrics and different lengths on different bodies. So much learning. And apparently I need to get out more often. hahaha

  8. domesticnews says:

    I Love what you’ve each done, making them fit both your shapes and your preferences! Don’t you wish you could step into (what??) an airport security machine-like thing? that could scan you and spit out pattern alterations? This is a better mouse trap looking for an inventor! Reminds me of painting. Quick, pretty easy, not much work, compared to all the prep! Thanks for sharing & please keep it up! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Leila says:

      Thanks. It was really fascinating to hang out with Heather and hear how she altered her dress. I got several tips from her on just this dress. For example, I complained that my shirring felt high on my back and she said she lowered her shirring- just like that. She’s a wealth of sewing knowledge. Ooh, I like the airport security pattern generator. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Clare Szabo says:

    Beautiful beautiful beautiful! I noticed the polka dot straight away and thought that was done on purpose cos it looks so fricking coooooool! Awesome, you look really hot as does your special guest. Where did you pick her up? ๐Ÿ˜‰ xxx

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