A recent addition to our dress patterns at Bolt is the Frances Shirt Dress, by Green Bee patterns. If you share my feeling of being born in the wrong decade, or want to reminisce on your sweet youth then this dress is for you! If the name doesn’t give the concept away, you will notice the construction and pattern pieces have a truly vintage feel.
Frances was inspired by a late 40’s early 50’s silhouette. This is given away by the “bowling shirt” collar, which means there is no collar stand, so the bodice of the dress will always hang open. This is the ultimate comfy yet classy dress. Despite the fish eye darts on the front and back of the garment for slight fitting, the pattern has a lot of ease and gathers on the bodice section instead of darts so the finished product becomes very loose fitting and easy to move around in. Since the design of the shirt dress is based off of a work shirt, you can do all kinds of “work” in this dress. While I was sewing this I couldn’t help but think of this poster:
This is a great dress to experiment with some of Bolt’s amazing ribbon and trim! Since the pattern is very basic, I would highly recommend doing so. For this dress I chose to use a shot cotton as the body fabric because of it’s great hand and drape. The shot cottons also are a great fabric to use for summer weight clothing. Because of its light weight and being 100% cotton it is very breathable and comfortable. Another good option for fabric is, of course, chambray, the ultimate work wear fabric. Since most of my closet is chambray, I decided to switch it up a bit ;). The pattern suggests to use a contrast fabric for the collar and front placket. Instead of that, I opted to use a bias tape trim on the collar and pockets for a subtle decoration.
To make this garment truly a vintage re-creation, instead of serging the raw edges of my seam allowances, I pinked and hand bound them. Although this takes a bit more time in construction, you may find that it is very relaxing and rewarding. I found that I had more of a connection to this garment as I really put some time into it, and now it has my “signature” on it by the way of my hand sewing technique. The best part of hand sewing is that it isn’t meant to be perfect, and all the little imperfections give the piece a sense of uniqueness. What I love the most about vintage pieces are the perfect imperfections - wabi sabi to the japenese- which is lost nowadays with mass produced clothing.
For a great vintage addition to your closet, definitely give Frances a try! The pattern is almost like a blank canvas, you can do all sorts of things to spice it up and make it truly unique. Come on in to Bolt and let us help you piece together fabrics, trims, and more to make this piece you.