My Italia is done! (And it is finally warm enough here to wear a skirt and sandals and forego the tights/hose.)
Belted (which is my preference, and how I wore it today):
Check out that hem gusset! One of my favorite features about this dress.
Here it is unbelted:
The Italia shirtdress is a slightly fitted and A-line, with bust darts, front and back vertical darts, and a back yoke that extends slightly forward to the front and is slightly rounded upward in the back. The front button placket is simply folded back in place. The special design details include a hem gusset, two bust pockets, roll-up sleeves with a tab, and a front placket tab overlay.
When my mom saw this dress she said “I had one just like that back in the late 70s or early 80s!” Guess I’m turning into my mom! (That’s ok, she’s awesome.)
This is my first “real” project in a while. The past few months have been challenging for me (some of it good, some of it not so good) so I was taking a break from sewing for a bit. I had this cut out at least two weeks ago but it just sat there until I started working on fusing some of the pieces last weekend. Some of my topstitching is less than perfect, but at least I got it done and enjoyed myself in the process. I completely agree with the Sometimes Sewist that perfection is always desired but not necessary.
I used this non-stretch denim from Gorgeous Fabrics.
The fabric is still a little stiff after pre washing. I’ve used this fabric before for another project, so I know from previous experience that it will take another couple of washings for the sizing to completely rinse out.
The buttons are the natural shell buttons from Fashion Sewing Supply. (I LOVE these buttons. They are nice and thick, reasonably priced, and go with almost everything.)
I used the lightweight Pro-Woven crisp interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply for the collar, collar stand, and cuffs. I also interfaced the front facings, front tab, and sleeve plackets using Pro-Sheer Elegance. Interfacing that front placket tab wasn’t recommended in the instructions, but it helped me get a crisper result.
I didn’t have great results with the sleeve placket pieces included with the pattern, so I ripped them out and replaced them with the placket pattern from David Coffin’s Shirtmaking. This is my TNT placket pattern. If you’ve never sewn a shirt placket like this before I highly recommend the Sewaholic Granville tower placket tutorial. (I used to use Sandra Betzina’s instructions in Power Sewing, but I think Tasia’s instructions have better photos and are much easier to understand.) I used the full men’s length instead of the shorter women’s length. It looks good when fully buttoned, but when I turn up the cuffs it looks kind of odd since the tab goes between the placket split, so the whole roll isn’t captured:
So next time I will cut down the length. It is fine as-is for this dress because the weight and color are more suited for spring and fall rather than hot summer days.
For the collar stand I used method described in Grainline Studio’s collar tutorial. I love this method; it is the only one I’ve tried where I get good results all the time, plus it eliminates that bulk at the intersection of the shirt and bottom collar stand that makes it difficult to topstitch/edgestitch around that corner. The only thing I do differently is before attaching the inner collar I sew along the seam allowance. The stitching helps stabilize the slightly curve and gives an accurate pressing guide. If you stitch just inside the seam allowance – like barely 1/16″ – it is pretty much hidden once the seam allowance is folded back and collar is completely sewn in place.
Construction FYI: do not be tempted to flat-fell the side seams, or serge them together, unless you omit the hem gusset. In order to sew in the gusset cleanly you need to have the side seams pressed apart. Also, the gusset is folded in half with wrong sides together, then it is stitched to the dress.
- Moved the vertical front darts inward 1/2″
- I did not lengthen the sleeves. Next time I will lengthen them an additional 1/2″. I think the sleeves run long on this dress – I normally lengthen Style Arc sleeves 1-1.5″.
- 3/8″ rounded back alteration
- 3/8″ forward shoulder alteration
- Added 5″ to hips
- Added 3/4″ width to sleeves (mostly at the elbow)
- Took in the back darts an additional 3/8″ at the waist; I think I should probably take them in a little bit more at the lower section.
- Lowered the side bust dart 1/2″
- Lengthened it 3.5″ between the waist and hem.
- The upper back feels a little tight, particularly when reaching forward. I will add a little bit more width at the center of the back armhole for next time.