Idea Log: The cinched shift

Idea Log: The cinched shift

Apparently all my best ideas come from Madewell emails. In my inbox there recently appeared a pic of their Lakeshore Midi dress (top photo) — super simple and comfortable but also the perfect dress-it-up, dress-it-down dress. That shirred waist reminded me instantly of April Rhodes’ Staple Dress pattern (middle left), with some obvious key differences. Pulling up the images of that one, I started thinking about Frankensteining something together — using the fitted bodice from my Liesl Gibson class, the Staple’s waist treatment, and maybe the shirttail hem from the Wiksten tank-dress.

While I pondered that one, I cut out the next thing I intend to sew, which is Liesl’s Gallery Tunic/Dress pattern (middle right). I’ve been planning to make it knee length, with the band collar, but sleeveless. (First in plain linen to try it out, then in one of those amazing fabrics I scored from Imogene+Willie.) My machine has been acting up after all the sewing I’ve been doing lately, but I went ahead and cut it out a week ago and hoped for a little equipment miracle of some sort … which didn’t come. Even after a good cleaning (I watched Fancy Jaime’s CreativeBug class!), it’s still no go. So the pieces have just been draped desolately over my ironing board, begging to be sewn. As I stared at them longingly one morning, I realized the answer to the Madewell-inspired dress was right there in front of me, in the form of the front and back pieces of the Gallery Dress: sleeveless, jewel-necked (before the placket gets cut into it), and shirttail hemmed. I held the front piece up to myself in the mirror and it’s perfect. All I have to do is cut the back in half to create a center seam and neck closure — it already has extra width built in for a back pleat, so that will just become center-seam allowance. The bodice will be less structured and detailed than the original, but that will suit me better anyway.

Now my conundrum — machine woes aside — is whether to go ahead and sew up the linen pieces into the Gallery I meant it to be, and then follow my plan for this other dress with other fabric, or go ahead and modify the linen pieces into this dress. But as you can see from my sketches up there (and last Friday; sorry for the repeat!), I’m already imagining multiple versions of it in my wardrobe. Linen for now, flannel for later. Sleeveless and sleeved. And layered with every single sweater in my closet …

(UPDATE: Hey look, Kristi and I have fraternal-twin blog posts today!)


PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: The pinstripe dress

15 thoughts on “Idea Log: The cinched shift

  1. I hope you tell us how you take a pattern with sleeves and make it sleeveless. If I was dieing to make something, I would jump right in. It is more satisfying than making something else first. Of course if your not really sure about how it’s going to work, it would be good to work out the kinks on not your best stuff. I guess it’s like making yourself swatch for a sweater instead of just starting the project. You will have to decide on your confidence level.

    • In either case, this inexpensive linen would be the first draft before I cut it out of better fabric — it’s just a question of which one I want first. (Or which I want to be natural linen in the end.)

      To make a set-in sleeve garment sleeveless you just don’t do the sleeves — bind the armhole edge with bias tape like you would on a typical sleeveless garment. This assumes you like the shape of the armscye, of course. If it had deep cut armholes for a sake of a voluminous sleeve, you’d be left with a gaping armhole, so in that case you’d want to redraft it. But this pattern has a pretty fitted sleeve, so it looks like the armhole will be just dandy as is. Won’t know for sure till I sew it up and see if it needs any tweaking.

  2. I love this silhouette. My vote is for two variations, both are great ideas and sure to be wardrobe staples.

    I’ve got a Madewell copy going on now too (pants). I’ve considered unsubscribing from their email just too make my sewing list more manageable. :)

    • Definitely doing all of the variations. Thinking about it just now, I realized there’s one other concern with the cinched version. The pieces I cut for the sleeveless Gallery I lengthened by 1.5″ to get the length I want. But for the cinched version, it will need to be even longer to remain that length once it’s cinched. So I guess these already cut pieces will go on to be the Gallery and I’ll cut a longer set for the first cinched version.

      Can’t wait to see your pants!

  3. Do you mind sharing where the photos are from? I really like the dress on the left but have no idea what it is! thanks!

  4. Very nice……… I have to go and do my own ‘cut and paste’ and decide if I can use it the pattern on ‘good’ fabric :) Same dilemma.

  5. Thanks for the inspiration, Karen! This particular dress is not for me, but I’m inspired by your thought process. I recently saw a beautiful eyelet dress in a catalog – went out, found a similar dress profile, but without the V-neck I wanted, have a t-shirt pattern with a V-neck so I’ll use that, and found some beautiful navy blue eyelet on sale. I really wanted black eyelet fabric, so I’ll keep looking for that, but for now, I’ll make the navy blue one and see how it goes.

    I do have a question for you: when you modify a pattern do you make a new pattern piece or do you overlay the original pattern pieces – one on top of the other?

    Thanks, again, for all the inspiration!

  6. That is a Napa Valley native in the red dress. She even has her own wine label. On top of modeling, and traveling the world. And, she is a nice. Heh…yeah… really.

    Your sketches are nice, Karen. Your shorter hemline is better than the one on the model. A shirttail hemline at midi length just looks awkward, IMHO. But the outward, exposed facings are a nice touch, especially on a solid fabric. Look forward to seeing your versions. And love that Gallery tunic!

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