In the midst of the madness of buying a home in an insane market, I couldn’t help but apply as a tester for the Ensemble Patterns Perkins Shirt Dress. I was powerless to resist the siren song of this ultra hip take on a traditional button down. Its song was so strong that I made not one, but two versions.
On occasion (who am I kidding? about 80% of the time), I blatantly ignore the recommendation to not buy or use my “good” fabric for a test. I do occasionally make up a quick and dirty muslin, but I just love using pretty fabric and have faith that if things don’t work out I’ll be able to refashion the item. This time, however, I actually had some great fabrics in my stash waiting to be used.
During the first phase of testing, I made the basic cropped version in a black and white striped rayon challis. I purchased this fabric from Raspberry Creek Fabrics back in January and used it to line both my Joy Jacket (here) and the sleeves of my Clare Coat (here). I had just over a yard of this fabric and was barely able to eke out all the pattern pieces. The simple stripes and drape of the rayon combine to make this top into a closet staple. The pattern’s style lines add visual interest to the top and elevate the cool factor a bit above that of a basic button down. I opted to use the wrong side of the fabric on the back yoke in order to highlight some of those style lines.
During the second phase of testing, I made the gathered cropped version. My talented and generous friend Kim of Sweet Red Poppy had some scraps left over from making a couple of dresses last summer (see them on her blog here). She was kind enough to share them with me and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the perfect pattern pairing. The fabric is a polyester crepe from Stylish Fabrics (here). I tend to gravitate towards natural fibers, and as a result, have very little experience working with polyester. This was also my first foray into working with crepe. I was pleasantly surprised with how easy this fabric was to sew. Combining the fabric with this gathered version was a no-brainer. It gathered easily and its drape is a dream. Bonus: These photos were snapped after I’d been wearing this top for several hours during my son’s birthday party. Thanks to the polyester content, The top still looks fresh and wrinkle-free.
Let’s talk construction. Once in a while, I come upon a construction method that is simultaneously brilliant and baffling. The “dumpling method,” as Celina referred to it, took a moment to understand, but was surprisingly simple. The instructions provided excellent detail and held my hand throughout the process. This method encloses the sleeve hem and raglan seams. This top also includes french seams along the sides for a clean-finish inside and out. Anyone with an intermediate level of skill shouldn’t have any trouble constructing this top. If you’re an adventurous beginner, however, don’t be discouraged. There’s a good chance you could have success here as well.
I’ll leave you with a sizing note: My bust measurement put me right at a size 4 for this pattern. Based on that, I sewed a straight size 4 in both versions. My only adjustment was adding 2″ to the length.
Now that I’ve got a yard to use as a photo background, I’m really itching to sew up some more summer basics. Realistically, I might not be doing much sewing until fall, but a girl can dream, right? What are you sewing this summer?