My Shirtdress… and the 15 Pound Aussie Project…

I’m no supermodel but I can sew!

Vogue 8028 mash-up - and the Shabby Apple inspiration dress

Vogue 8028 mash-up – and the Shabby Apple inspiration dress

The hemline doesn’t look even but it is – it was just BLOWING A GALE! More on that later…

I fell madly in love with this dress when I spotted it on LLadybird’s blog for a Shabby Apple promo months ago. Unfortunately when Shabby Apple do promotions via blogs they are only ever for USA residents so I needed to make this myself.Then along came the RTW Challenge on Pattern Review and I could think of no better excuse to make it.

I had grand visions of my blog photo for this dress. Alas, the Blogs Gods were not smiling upon me. In my little corner of the world it has been raining forever (not really but it feels like it!) and we are recovering from one of our biggest floods in decades. I’ve had to ‘make do’.
RTW/Designer Knockoff Contest

I’m SoSadLizzy as I really really really wanted to win this competition. First prize $200 Mood Fabrics voucher, second prize $100 Mood Fabrics voucher. My lust is insatiable – before this was announced I had been drooling over my dream Anise fabric. Alas our river is in full flood, our jetties surrounded by flood debris, our glorious beaches are trashed and the rain continues to fall. Boo. Sob. Howl. Life can be so unjust!! If that’s the worst I’ll ever suffer in a flood I can live with that.

Many of the entries so far are fancy – and I respect that and no doubt they will smash me in the voting stakes, lace and couture stuff is sexy. That’s OK, I love this dress, I will wear it alot and I’ve been dying to make it for months. I’d rather make a dress that I love and wear often than a statement piece that I wear once. Oh dear I’ve become so practical…

I think my dress is similiar in spirit but (ahem) better than Shabby Apple’s. When I really really looked at the Overboard dress, I really didn’t like the collar – it had no band, it wasn’t notched. The button placket makes my eyeballs cranky as the pattern matching is poor. I also didn’t like how the skirt pleats created a visual mess at the waistline. My alterations addressed this, don’t we always gloat that made-by-me is better, so why slavishly copy an original? Improve it!

I used the top of Vogue 8028 (this is out of print, I got it on ebay for about $5). This pattern is a full shirt dress, buttons to the hem – Overboard is not, it’s a shirtmaker dress – buttons just to the waist with a zip under the arm. This Vogue pattern also does not include a pleated skirt. In the end I just used the top pattern pieces.

I changed the construction order to suit my alterations. I made up the front and back as instructed and attached them at the shoulders. I inserted the sleeves flat. I did not sew up the sides at this point. First I created pleated skirt panels. Pleating gingham is super easy – you just use the checks as a guideline. I pleated so the navy gingham check forms a visual waistband – the pleats point inwards. I then attached skirt panels to the tops. Without the sash my dress looks like this at the waistline…

Vogue 8028 mash-up - waistline

Vogue 8028 mash-up – waistline

I then inserted an invisible zipper under one arm (which broke the first time I tried on the dress! Growl!). I sewed up the sides and hemmed the dress. Yes, it really was that easy!

I only made the top button a ‘real’ buttonhole. Shirtmaker dresses are great if buttonholes and buttons scare you. I sewed the buttonholes through all layers of the fabric – with the exception of the top buttonhole so I can leave it open & casual. The buttonholes secure the front, there is less chance of the buttons pulling and gaping. I simply sew the buttons over the top of the buttonhole, noone can tell and the dress front sits nice and flat. You escape the dress via an invisible zip under your arm!

I made the sash from scrap red lawn I had. Buttons were $2.99 at Lincraft.

I think my check matching was reasonable, not perfect but better than Shabby Apple by a long shot.

So in a few days I will probably be back, begging, crying, pleading for your vote on Pattern Review… I’m totally cool if you are not a fan or you prefer the other entries (I may cry for weeks but sewing therapy will get me through – and there are a stack of other things on Shabby Apple I want to make up). You can only vote if you are a Pattern Review Member for at least the last 3 months. I like Pattern Review and use it a lot, it is a good solid resource to check any potential pattern purchases against – it’s the first place I check out. (Note to self: get over there in the next two days and load up your review, images and entry – stop talking about it and start typing!)

What makes me most proud is that I modified pattern significantly – I never imagined I could achieve this sort of customised result when I started blogging last April.


In January I was contacted by Will of Abakhan Fabric via Twitter, he asked if I would like to be part of a budget bloggers’ project. Invited bloggers can select goods to the value of 15 pounds from their website once a month and make anything they choose. I pointed out that I lived in Australia but Will said that was OK. I have quite a lot of UK readers/followers so it made sense to me – and what a fun challenge!

This is great project for me, I’m a budget stitcher. The majority of my makes come from the bargain table, yes I’m picky and they are often beautiful voiles and lawn, but I freak out at paying a fortune for anything. Must be my ancestral Scottish blood (or the Welsh or English bits of me – or it could just be the cheeky cheapskate Aussie) can be blamed (or credited) for this!

Ten Pound Poms is Aussie slang to describe the British who migrated to Australia after the Second World War under an assisted passage scheme run by the Australian Government. Adults could migrate for 10 pounds sterling and children for free. So I’ve called myself the 15 Pound Aussie. Any of these Abakhan Fabric projects I’m going to tag as 15 Pound Aussie on my blog. Keep an eye out for them and if you are in the UK especially, don’t underestimate their range, it took me DAYS to choose! When I’ve over in the UK in 1 month and 17 days (not counting, really I’m not) I shall be buying up their bias binding range!

I made this dress from fabric sent to me by Abakan Fabrics in the UK.

This is my first project from this blogging challenge. An enormously wearable dress which used less than 2 metres of fabric at the princely sum of £3.35 pounds a metre, so £7.70 for the fabric plus $3 Aussie for the buttons. The RTW dress is currently on sale for $US 86. Bargain I say.

15 Pound Aussie win. Thanks Abakhan Fabrics!

Images credits: Shabby Apple and Sewbusylizzy.

87 thoughts on “My Shirtdress… and the 15 Pound Aussie Project…

  1. Ah, this is the invisible zip you tweeted about. I can understand your frustration but look at that awesome dress you made! You’re right too, it’s looks very, very wearable and so cute. I like the idea of setting a budget for yourself when sewing too, always good to have a challenge.

  2. Looks great, you’ve got my vote!
    I had a quick look at Abakan fabrics and loved the bas binding as well! Great prices too.
    My Grandparents were 10 pound Poms, they came over in 1956 and landed here in SA, so I love that you are calling yourself a 15 pound Aussie!

  3. Lovely dress, and I like the colour on you. And fabulous pattern matching. I’m in agreement it looks far better than the Shabby Apple dress 🙂 It’s a funny thing, pattern-matching, it’s a lot of work, and the difference is often subtle but well-pattern-matched just takes the garment up a couple of notches in quality.
    I was just sewing a dress in very similar style and very similar (but green and black) gingham, so I an appreciation of how much work to get it so nicely matched is very fresh in my mind. I was even starting to pleat the waistband exactly like you have.

    I think this idea of abakhan is working for them coz I just had a look too! I can see why you’ll be stocking up on those bias binding when you’re in the UK Wow! they’re so funky!

    I’m glad all you’re experiencing in the floods is a gale blowing when you’re mimicking supermodels (btw if you show your, of course, bright white straight teeth when you smile no one could tell the difference 🙂 The piccies of your area of Aust on the news were pretty drastic 😦

    • It was pretty drastic, fortunately the sun came out this weekend – which was almost a shock! If I can get to Abakhan I might stock up for a little giveaway when I get back!

  4. This is why sewing is amazing- you looked at a RTW and said, ‘I can do better’ and you did! You weren’t restrained by whats available- you made what you wanted- love it. sniff. Off to vote.

  5. The pleats at the waistline look fantastic. You definitely improved upon the original! I am sure the original was not constructed nearly as nicely as yours. Love your photos!

  6. wow! this dress came out great! love the skirt with the pleats! I had never heard of this fabric supplier. thanks for sharing! they have similar prices to my local budget shop but more things! thanks! Has the voting started for the competition. i think you are in with a chance! looks identical!

  7. Fab fab fab. So beautiful, and much better than the original. Can’t wait to vote for you. I’ll even make my Lenny start a PR account so he can vote too. 🙂 And my cats as well.
    Thanks for the Ten Pound Poms history lesson. So interesting.

  8. I don’t normally love gingham but your dress is AWESOME!! This dress has made me think of gingham in a different way and I was actually thinking I’d like one too. It’s gorgeous and I love how you pleated the skirt – it looks really cool. This is definitely a winner in my book – please let us know when it’s time to vote!

  9. You’ve got my vote! (well, when you get round to putting your make up on PR – get a move on, there’s less than 2 days left now!!)

    And you’re right about the bias binding, I’ve fallen in love with that blue/grey floral one, doesn’t it have a lovely vintagey look about it?

  10. I love this, and I agree it is so much nicer than the original. I don’t think I have been a Pattern Review member for long enough to vote, but if I can I will definitely vote for you.
    Very jealous about your Abakhan allowance too – I have ordered fabric and notions from them a few times, lovely stuff and a fantastic choice. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  11. I’m glad you have been given an allowance to spend! You deserve it. I really like this dress, and it is certainly an improvement over Shabby Apples’ dresses. I just finished reading Overdressed, and now I understand why so many RTW things are made so poorly. Your dress is cute as can be, practical, and flattering! What’s not to like?

  12. What a great dress, I remember seeing the pictures of the model wearing this a while ago (I forget where, probably on the blogosphere!) and I thought it was super cute. Yours is virtually identical, well worth all the hair pulling! Congrats on getting discount fabric every month, what an awesome treat! I look forward to seeing your Abakhan creations

  13. I thought your title was going to have something to do with weight,lol.

    You have made a lovely job of the shirt dress. I love shirt dresses but surprisingly don’t love them on me 😦

    I thought some of that rain may have made its way here as your weather is prone to do, but no, at last count I think we have had maybe two days of rain this year. The rain will come though with autumn.

  14. I’m not usually a fan of gingham clothing but that is so cute and fresh. I love your photo’s too. I followed you link to the weather story, gads right? Sorry to hear. While I was there, I read about the shark attack in New Zealand…I love the water but that just freaks me out. You are a magician at matching up pattern, especially the collar and all those pleats, wow Lizzy.

  15. I just love the pictures you took replicating the Shabby Apple poses! I had to stare hard to pick the difference for a moment. And I don’t doubt your version is superior in both make and fit to the Shabby version. I mean, Shabby Apple. Looking great! You’ve got my vote 🙂

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  17. Wow! Better than the inspiration dress by far – and I love Shabby Apple! 🙂 You totally nailed the model look – I seriously had to look twice to see that it was you – very professional work – definitely one for your portfolio 😉

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