Fall for Cotton: Vintage Shirt-Dress

I have a reasonable size collection of vintage patterns that I seem to admire more than I sew. When I saw that Rochelle and Tasha were holding a Fall for Cotton sewalong and the Monthly Stitch challenge was vintage, well I took the not so subtle hint to make up another of my patterns.

Fall For Cotton

It was definitely difficult to narrow it down but I finally decided on Mail Order Pattern-o-rama 8299, date unknown but has to be 40s I think.  I love me a shirt-dress and really like the button detailing on this one. Plus I already had the fabric and just the right amount of matching buttons in my stash! It was meant to be!

Patt-o-Rama 8299
The sweetheart neckline is cute too

The construction of this was fairly straight forward, although a little unusual by modern standards. The front bodice is sewn together, then the back pieces are sewn together and they are joined at the shoulders. As the back does not have a waist seam, but the front does, it is a little weird to try on at this point at you end up with a back skirt and no front skirt!  I was wanting to check for fit as I had only tissue fitted, I didn’t make a muslin. My cotton fabric was cheap at $2/m so I was treating this as a wearable muslin with my effort towards quality of finish varying depending on the fit! (spoiler alert – I was happy with the fit so it has been finished properly)

Fall For CottonFall For Cotton

The collar was then attached, followed by the front skirt, side seams and then the sleeves. No zip, the button front is functional unlike my previous vintage shirt-dress.

Most times when you read about vintage patterns people say there is no ease so buy your measurements. However, this pattern is a size 35″ pattern and my bust measurement is 37″ and it fitted perfectly with no alterations required.  I only shortened the bodice by about one inch and narrowed the shoulders by about an inch as they were pretty wide and likely designed for shoulder pads.


I felt a little bit “Call the Midwife” looking as I made this but made a few changes to try to stop it looking too nurse-uniform like.  The buttons help a lot I think, they are vintage, embroidered and picked up on a trip to Cairns last year for 10 cents each! If only buttons were this reasonably priced!!


I also played with my machine’s fancy stitching on the hems of the sleeve and skirt.  I knew I didn’t want to hand stitch and I figured if you were going to see the stitching I might as well make it pretty. I know it’s not traditionally vintage, but I don’t mind, I wasn’t going for a completely authentic finish (although I did pink all my seams, mostly because I didn’t have matching thread!).

Fall For Cotton

Sorry, I did the buttonholes on my machine 🙂 I know I could have done them by hand, but to be honest, I didn’t want to! I really don’t like hand-sewing, yep lazy I know, but if my machine does it then why not, and I’m all for efficiency.

I did shorten the skirt by about 5″ to a more wearable modern day length.  I think even “back in the day” I would have had to shorten it too, I am only 5’2″ after all and besides wouldn’t I have had to ration fabric?

BTW – the “pockets” are completely decorative, just flaps!

Fall For Cotton

Pattern – Pattern-o-rama 8299
Fabric – 2.4m of cotton poplin from my stash
Notions –  11 buttons also from my stash (I have one spare in case I lose one!), thread

So that’s my Fall for Cotton/Monthly Stitch dress – what about you?  Did you make something for either of these challenges?  If so, share in the comments below, I would love to see!

22 thoughts on “Fall for Cotton: Vintage Shirt-Dress

  1. $2 /m?! Awesome! I love the buttons and dress looks great on you. I've heard so many things about vintage patterns, they have more ease, they have less ease than current patterns and now, they have no ease. So no idea which is right.

  2. Liz, this is beautiful. I love the trim you sewed on , and the buttons are just perfect.
    I love a shirt waist dress too.. NOthing like the vintage dresses. I too, have way too many vintage patterns,…not enough time to sew them.ha

  3. Wow, this is terrific! I love the stitching detail and completely agree that if the machine does it, use the machine. Except for hems and sewing on buttons. For some reason I never feel that a machine does it properly and I always hand sew my hems and sew my buttons on with good old-fashioned needle and thread. I hate replacing buttons, so them things is sewn on TIGHT! 🙂

    Lovely dress, well done.

  4. I love this – it fits beautifully, and i think the buttons make it less surgical. I often like the different ways that vintage patterns come together. It can make it a challenge or I might learn a new or easier way of doing something.

  5. Looks great! You seem to be a roll with all stunners at the moment. Would you make it again? (Also I can't believe you didn't magic those up into super secure real pockets!)

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