It’s fair to say shirtdresses are popular in the CSC, here is a review of the newest shirtdress offering available to curvy sewers – the Cashmerette Lenox Shirtdress. And, in my opinion, worth consideration to add it to your stash of patterns.
Sizes 12 to 28, in three different cup sizes (C/D, E/F, and G/H) and covers bust measurements from 40 to 58 inches, waist measurements from 32-48 inches, and hip measurements from 42-58 inches.
What size did you make?
Size 18 G/H, view B with the full collar
What are your measurements, height, and body type?
Upper Bust: 39 inches
Full Bust: 46 inches
Waist: 37-ish inches (depends on time of the month)
Hips: 45 inches
Body type: Full hour glass
What adjustments did you make and how long did they take?
None. I cut a straight size 18 G/H. I have made enough Cashmerette Patterns to know I can make an 18 and it works. This is the first time I didn’t trace off the original pdf pattern, I was that confident of the fit.
What fabric did you use?
About four yards of Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen/Cotton blend. I was able to get everything cut out using a single layer
What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you?
I am usually quite hesitant of princess seamed garments because I have traumatic memories of wearing ill-fitting dresses in high school during the 1990s. I put faith in Jenny when I made my first Harrison Shirt and it turned out. I was not disappointed, but the apex could use a bit of a press.
I love shirtdresses and this one marks the fourth one in my wardrobe. I bought this immediately because the princess seams, open collar and non-poofy back made it different enough from favorite shirtdress, McCalls 6696.
I have to tell you, last couple weeks have been terrible for allergies here in northwest Iowa and I’ve been in an antihistamine fog. Many of the issues I mention here are clearly due to pollen’s negative affect on my cognitive ability.
This was a fairly straightforward pattern to sew if you’ve done a few shirts/shirtdresses.
Any other princess seamed bodice I’ve made has involved an impressive FBA (I’m looking at you, Elisalex dress), which resulted in a complicated curve to fit/ease into the center front. Not this one. Just remember the pieces need to lay flat at the seamline, not the edge of the fabric. This Size 18 G/H bodice didn’t require clipping of curves before or after sewing to be pressed completely flat.
I was pleased to see that Cashmerette Patterns used the “burrito” method for attaching the yoke. I also like the method of sewing the collar band on to the bodice, basting the finished collar in and then sewing the collar band facing into the bodice.
There were a few things that tripped me up and forced me to leave the sewing room and mull over how to handle it – which extended the time to completion. Overall this dress took about eight episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation to sew once it was cut out.
The biggest issue I ran into was the back waist band wasn’t long enough to handle the back bodice. I ended up splicing in a 1 ½ inch piece of fabric in the center back to make it fit. On the waistband facing I sewed the extra fabric on the ends. It’s structurally sound, and that’s what matters on the inside. I haven’t had a chance to look at the pattern to see if I cut the wrong size in the back waistband, or if I attempted to install it upside down. I know it’s shaped to better fit my body. In an allergy induced haze, I couldn’t figure out whether I wanted the wider part of the waist piece on the bodice or the skirt, and I think I did a haphazard job of cutting notches (see aforementioned allergies). I’ve run into this problem with my many Upton Dresses I’ve sewn (I’m a little slap-dash with notches). I will mark which side is bodice side on the waistband to help me keep it straight in the future.
Allergies also complicated the installation of the button bands. It took me far longer than I’d like to admit that I needed to match up the concave and convex curves on the button bands and dress front. During a Benadryl induced nap, I was able to puzzle out how to match up that curve on the neckline – and it worked a treat. Except, one set of the button bands didn’t reach down to the bottom of the unfinished hem of the dress. This is clearly a cutting problem on my part as all four should have been the same.
I puzzled how to get myself out of this. In the McCalls 6696 you finish off the raw side of the button band and then flip it around to have a finished edge that matches up to your already hemmed dress. I didn’t do it this way and I ended up with a bulky finish at the bottom of the button band. Next time I’ll flip around the order of operations to finish the edges of the button band independently from the hem for a smoother finish.
The instructions are clear, straightforward and if you feel lost there are lots of resources available to help figure it out, including the Cashmerette Lenox Shirtdress Sew Along.
How do you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think the design works well for your particular body shape?
I love this dress. I am a firm believer in all well-fitting clothes are like secret pajamas. This dress is no different. I did try this on mid-construction and was hesitant that it wasn’t going to fit but once the button bands were on, I tried again and it was perfect.
I personally feel as though shirt dresses work very well with my body style. I like clothes that demonstrate I have a waist (without pinching me in half). This dress perfectly defines my waist. I also like how it doesn’t feel as if the waist line isn’t right up under my bust, like other patterns sometimes do. I have always loved this style of dress and am grateful that it is fashionable because it is easier to find patterns.
Also note this dress not only works, it is functional. The pockets securely hold an iPhone 7+.
Will you make the pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make?
Yes I will definitely make this again. I have some chambray fabric that I purchased for a McCalls 6696 that will likely become a Lenox instead. After seeing the cover art, I need a large floral version, as well.
Next time I will take a small wedge, about .75 inches out of the back, below the shoulder blade tapering to nothing at the side seams. Cashmerette patterns have a built in swayback adjustment so this is a lot smaller than what is required on Big 4 patterns.
A future version is likely to have box pleats at the princess lines.
I will likely sew a hook and eye into the waist band of this dress as it gapes a bit here. Button placement to at my apex didn’t line up neatly on the waist band and I’d like it to be more smooth.
Do you have any advice on this pattern for other curvy sewers? Are there any resources (blog posts, fitting books, tutorials) that helped you sew this piece up?
The pattern instructions mention stay stitching the angled fronts of the dress. I would recommend doing that right after cutting. I would also consider doing the necklines at that time, too, because by the time I got to the stay stitching instruction I had some stretching. I ended up with some bunching under the collar to get it to fit.
When it comes to sewing buttons on the bands – measure your first button placement off the apex of your bust and then follow the spacing recommended by the button spacing.
If you are confused by diagrams and description of doing the burrito method of the yoke construction check out Grainline Studio’s video demonstration of the burrito method for the yoke. It can be found here: https://vimeo.com/63716580
I followed many of the shirt making tips from David Page Coffin’s book “Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing“.
• Used a washable school glue stick to baste the collar stand facing into place before topstitching.
• Traced the curve of the collar stand stitching line onto the fabric so I could make sure my collar stands matched on both sides when I sewed them together
Size Range (1-5) It’s pretty inclusive so I’m going to give it a 5. The bust alone spans 18 inches and three different cup sizes. The hip in the dress is open, but the pattern envelope covers a 16-inch range.
Instructions (1-5) I’m going to give this a 4. The instructions were fairly clear, especially you have some experience in shirt making. But a confident beginner with google-fu skills and patience can tackle this.
Construction Process (1-5) I’m giving this a 4 because some of the seams are a little bulky – especially at the side seams and bottoms of the button bands. But, the yoke and collar construction methods are perfect.
Final Fit (1-5) This is a 5. This dress is straight out of the envelope/printer with no modifications. No alterations are necessary to make this pattern fit me well; compared to about seven standard alterations to flat patterns before I can even get to the muslin-making stage of garment sewing with other companies. This dress is clearly designed for a plus sized hour-glass and in my case, some apple tendencies post childbirth.
Overall Rating (1-5) The Lenox Shirtdress by Cashmerette Patterns is a 5. Lenox is different from other shirtdresses available because the princess seams, more open neck line and the version with just a collar stand; it still has the things I love about the shirt dress – separate bands for the collar, waist and buttons. The expansive size range and consideration of curvy body types (hello built in FBA and sway-back adjustment!) is something to be celebrated.
If you’re curvy, and like the look of shirtdresses, definitely take a serious look at the Lenox.