Well here's something you might not expect from me: a retro shirt dress with a full gathered skirt! I was chosen to pattern test Pauline Alice's first sewing pattern, the Camí Dress. It's not something I would make for myself, but I had lots of fun making it and it was so good to strengthen my skills that come with such a dress. And you know what? I kind of really like how it looks on me!
There are two versions to sew: Version A has short sleeves, Version B has 3/4 cuffed sleeves. At first I thought I'd take the easier short sleeve route, but then I saw that the cuffs had no placket but a slit. I love that Pauline kept the cuff simple. If a project has too many advanced details it tends to slow me down. Now you can focus on getting the collar and buttonholes perfect, and still have a relatively quick project. I used a lightweight cotton with shiny embroidered dots. The pattern does not require a lining. And it has pockets!
The instructions are clear and straightforward. No room for chitchat, just what you need to know. There are lots of illustrations to accompany the steps. I did read every word though, as I have only made a collar twice (I think?) and a button down shirt once. What I also like is that even with a narrow waist and broad hips, it doesn't make you look big. My waist and hips are three size columns apart, so I was afraid the gathers would make my hips look gigantic. I comtemplated making a fitted skirt (which would be an awesome pattern hack anyway) but stuck to the gathers and I'm glad I did.
I did have some fit issues because I am tall (178cm/5 feet 10") and broadshouldered. If I close the top buttons the shoulders are pulled inwards, but I like it better open anyway. The adjustments I made were lowering the shoulders 1 cm, lowering the front darts 2 cm, and adding 5 cm to the hemline. It's still just a bit above my natural waist. Lowering the shoulders gave me more room in the armholes as well, but it has distorted the fit of the sleeves a bit ofcourse. I made these adjustments after cutting the pieces so this was all I could do. That's why you should always make a muslin, or at least compare your measurements to the pattern's. Because I never sew fitted shirts I didn't know what my fit issues would be.
I am not at all surprised a retro shirtdress is Paulines first pattern, she's such a classy girl! Just look at the Dior coat or the Scartlett O'Hara dress that she drafted herself, astonishing!
If you'd like to make the Camí dress yourself, go get it here!