Gertie’s shirtwaist dress in Palomino Green

Gawd, I love shirtwaist dresses. I own two – one is a cute black and white polka dot one from glassons that is SO SHORT I basically have to wear it as a top, and a vintage blue floral with a strange/cool collar detail which is slighly too small.

But this dress is really rad, I love it.


I’ve been, basically, scared of making a shirtwaist dress for a while – the buttons, the collar, the interfacing etc.. so daunting. Also, I never had a pattern for one. When I saw Gertie’s red rose dress, I fell in love – the liberty fabric is perfect (I would freaking love this shirtwaist dress in the rose pattern, but it would cost >$100), it’s nicely shaped, the shirring in the back promised to make it remarkably comfortable, and it has a nicely full skirt, just how I like it.

And yet, it’s taken me over a year to make it. I first got it out from the library last year whilst still in Christchurch, and had no idea how you were supposed to trace the patterns. I bought the book after coming up here and it’s still taken me this long to do it – not sure if it’s the amount of fabric need (which actually isn’t that much) or just beeing woosy – I think it’s the latter.

But this week I decided to just flipping do it – and lord, it was worth it. It was actually really easy to put together – well drafted

I didn’t make a muslin and only needed a couple of changes. Firstly, the shoulders are craaazy long. IMG_1653On my right is the original shoulder, on my left is where I’ve taken 1 1/2″ off (anyone else use metric for everything else, but imperial for sewing?). I do have narrow shoulders but I’ve never had this much excess before. I also had to take some width from the back yoke, to match. Everything else was a straight size 12.

The hem is done with my Janome narrow hem foot. I am getting the hang of this and over half is a properly enclosed narrow hem! With the rest of it having straggly bits poking their head out.

Other fitting issues – I do admit the darts are much higher than I should have them, for my low bust. I did do all 6 rows of shirring but wish I had started lower to correspond to hit my lower back. I think there’s a touch too much fabric in the back for me, so the gathering/shirring produced some outpouching when I stand with correct posture. I also put the buttons on a bit wrong – there should be a button directly in line with my bust point, which I forgot to do – hence the bit of gaping. But otherwise I am really happy, the length is perfect.

Our friend Mathieu took these photos for me in our back yard. I’m certain he took twice as many photos (including one of the shirring) but only emailed me four. I have bought my battery charger, just waiting for it to arrive – so I’ll no longer rely on others taking photos of/for me.

And why palomino? Because of the buttons! 8 black metal horsebuttons adorn the front of this dress. It’s also in homage to my favourite Wellington coffee shop. Palomino on Cuba St, which I almost never get to go to seeing as it’s only open during weekday working hours.


I have discovered that i’m not very good at sewing on buttons – most of these have twisted around and I even lost one the first day I wore it – have had to cover up the missing spot with a belt before I have a chance to get to Made on Marion to buy another

This dress is a great one for bridging between casual and dressy. I can wear it to work (casual), and last night dressed it up with a set of pearls and my hair did – I got given a drink for having such an awesome dress, and someone even thought it was “real” vintage. I’m glad I’m at the stage where people compliment me on my clothing without it being obvious that they’re handmade – people are surprised when I tell them I made it, and I even mentioned this dress was “handmade” and I believe they still thought I mean handmade 40 years ago.

Can you tell how much I LOVE this dress?


10 thoughts on “Gertie’s shirtwaist dress in Palomino Green

  1. Well done! I should probably put this one on my list, lol! I really like the idea of the shirred back. It sounds so comfortable! It looks really pretty on you 🙂

  2. Pingback: Vintage (inspired) green shirtwaist dress | The Monthly Stitch

  3. well here I am in love again !
    for such a non- blogging blogger I am getting right into this, now.
    I think all due to people such as yourself who just fill me with warm fuzzies and huge inspiration !
    thank you !

    I am determined to tackle some multiple button holes…

    you deserve every compliment you get for this wonderful creation and entertaining blog…
    oh so much to aspire to…sigh…
    I shall quietly persevere with my October frocks and hopefully see good results.

    love this shade of green with the red tights ! that old chestnut about wellingtonians wearing nothing but black should be laid to rest truly !

    : )

    • Oh thank you! Your comment has made my day!
      Are you planning on making several frocks this coming month? I wasn’t sure how to do it… wear a dress every day? Make tons of dresses? As it is I might challenge myself to make the Colette Ceylon dress, which I’ve had traced out ready to make for a while now, but have been too scared to get started.

      • oh yes to your first querie .
        prepped and ready , ( truly )…
        now i am not going to get all distracted by your other questions, with due respect i am treating them as hypothetical…

        don’t be scared… i am not as yet familiar with the c.c dress but just the sound of it is enough, : )
        will look forward to seeing it !

  4. Pingback: Self-drafted Shirtwaist dress, and a sneak preview of the new Thread Theory pattern, the Thetis Undershirt! |

  5. Pingback: A long-overdue Shirtwaist re-do | The Monthly Stitch

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