How I Created The Mauve Shirt Dress

The Flora Modiste
by The Flora Modiste

And alas, we have a brand new sewing project: The Mauve Shirt Dress! I am truly in love with this month's project, I feel like it is the perfect summer staple. This week, I am going to walk you through the process & complications of how to sew a dress..

And also the process & complications of how to sew a button down shirt. It's like a two-for-one special! How cool is that?

Here at The Flora Modiste, we are ALL about versatile clothing. I want my pieces to work well in the summer, as well as in the winter. And I feel like the Mauve Shirt Dress does just that.

It works perfectly as an easy, breezy summer dress. Yet it also works as a sort of cardigan that can be worn over pretty much anything. Seriously can't wait to wear this beauty in the Fall over some denim jeans.

But really, I absolutely LOVE dresses.

I pretty much wear them every. single. day. here in San Diego, from Spring to Fall. Long dresses, short dresses, midi dresses. I love them all.

We have covered how to sew a dress by using various styles with past sewing projects.. Think:  The Teri Dressthe Dany Sheath, &  the Tartt Racerback.

I love them all.. But I think that the Mauve Shirt Dress takes the cake.

The Mauve falls to the knee, and is very oversized, as all shirt dresses are meant to be. There are also some slightly scandalous side slits that go up much farther than I should have let them.. Turn the right way and you're going to see some booty.

I chose to use a kimono style sleeve, to give the Mauve an even slouchier feel. The kimono sleeves fall just above the elbow, and can be rolled up to give that shirt-like feel to them.

And of course.. I included inseam side pockets. Because you should know by now.. I LOVE POCKETS.

Almost every single project here on The Flora Modiste has involved a pocket of some sort. To name just a few:  The Ashby Coatthe Wavy Cardiganthe Dany Sheath, and  the Tartt Racerback.

Seriously, I love them.

It is the saddest thing in the world to try and put your hands inside of a pocket that doesn't exist. (Literally just did that today when I was at Trader Joe's because the dress I was wearing today didn't have any type of pocket. Sigh.)

Sometimes shirt dresses have a patch pocket near the breast.. But I didn't want one with this piece.

I felt that there was just enough going on, and that adding a breast pocket would have taken away from the clean, fresh silhouette.

The center front button closure is definitely more reminiscent of a button down shirt, as is the basic shirt collar.

I absolutely love the little red buttons, I feel like they 100% complete the shirt dress. I almost went with cream buttons to try and blend them in with the fabric a bit more.. But my husband convinced me to go red, and I am SO glad that I did.

As for the collar, I went with a basic roll collar with a collar stand. This is a pretty typical collar for button down shirts, and I really wanted to stick with that theme.

While I wanted the Mauve to feel like a dress (because it is SO easy to learn how to sew a dress, & I wanted to prove that) I also wanted the Mauve to feel like a shirt. Otherwise, what's the point of making a shirt dress?

If you are loving the simple shirt collar on the Mauve, then you are in luck my friend. This month's tutorial is going to cover how to sew a collar! (Stay tuned next week for a full step-by-step tutorial.)

Overall, sewing up the Mauve wasn't too difficult.

The steps on how to sew a dress (especially an incredibly simple one like the Mauve) are pretty straightforward.. Attach the back piece to the two front pieces and add the sleeve cuffs.

Finish off the slits & the hem. I used rolled hems for the slits & the hem because I wanted to get a little bit of decorative top stitching in the mix, which is a very shirt-like detail.

On the other hand.. The steps on how to sew a button down shirt are a little more difficult than those on how to sew a dress. Not hard, but definitely a little more challenging.

Sewing a placket is easy, but you have to be 100% accurate when sewing buttonholes. You literally can't mess up on a single one of those, otherwise you're starting over with a whole new placket.

Buttonholes are front & center, so they have to be perfect. Buttons are a little more forgiving to sew, but the placement for them also has to be perfect.

And finally.. Collars. I find that basic shirt collars pretty easy to sew, once you have the process down. It's a little confusing at first, and requires some inside out, backwards thinking.

But once you have it, you've got it for life.

Kind of like riding a bicycle. Or learning how to drive a stick shift.

(Fun fact: My dad taught me how to drive a stick shift in 5 o'clock stop and go traffic on the 15 freeway when I was in high school. And if you aren't aware.. The 15 freeway is one of the largest freeways in all of California. So. A pretty interesting teaching method.. But I will never ever forget how to drive a stick.)

But really.. Sewing up the Mauve wasn't too difficult. I was able to sew & press pretty much everything for the project in a single day, with the exception of the buttonholes & buttons.

Still. Pretty impressive!

I ended up needing quite a bit of fusible interfacing to strengthen the shirt-like aspects of the dress. Think: The collar, collar stand, button & buttonhole plackets, and the sleeve cuffs.

And while I probably could have gotten away with not using the fusible.. I prefer to do things right. And it just looks SO GOOD.

The fabric that I chose to use for the Mauve was a lightweight cotton canvas. I almost would have preferred an even lighter fabric.. But once I saw those stripes, I was done. As you can recall.. I LOVE STRIPES.

Like, it's an actual problem. They are my JAM.

I think it's a pretty safe estimate to say that at least half the clothing in my closet is made with striped fabric.

I have done a few projects here on The Flora Modiste using striped fabric.. Specifically  the Dany Sheath &  the Violet Midi.

And I feel like shirt dresses in particular almost HAVE to be made in a striped fabric. Or at the very least a print of some kind. Am I right? They just look BETTER when made in striped fabric, I don't know what it is.

But anyways. The canvas worked out great for this project because it had the stiffness that button down shirts are typically known for. Yet it was also light enough to work for a dress.

And the weight actually helps to hold that oversized, voluminous silhouette that shirt dresses are known for. I basically just love love love everything about this dress.

And now.. The namesake for the Mauve Shirt Dress. As you guys might have realized by now.. I'm a bit of a fantasy world lover. Ever since I was a kid, I have been in love with The Lord of the Rings. (Hence the namesake for  the Ilma Raglan, one of our very first sewing projects.)

And one of my absolute favorite projects,  the Dany Sheath, is named after one of the main characters from Game of Thrones. So yah. A bit of a closet nerd, I suppose.

And in the last few years, my love of fantasy has been stretched to include a love of sci fi. Specifically, the show Westworld.

You may have seen it?

On Westworld, one of the badass main characters is Mauve. She is one of the first robots that gains a consciousness of her own, making her own decisions and defying her programming.

A major theme in season 2 of Westworld is all about how important it is to be able to make your own decisions, to have free will. Because without free will, are we really any different than a robot host in a theme park?

Forewarning: If you haven't watched season 2 of Westworld, and don't want any spoilers, then I would stop reading now.

But anyways. Mauve eventually gains the ability to control other hosts not only through verbal command, but through her mind. And while she has the ability to control others, she starts to learn the importance of having a choice. And how it isn't necessarily the right thing to control the other hosts..

Which is exactly what the humans have been doing to the hosts all along. Essentially, she comes to realize that she was wrong. And she changes her behavior to reflect that realization. Which I absolutely love her for.

It's an incredibly difficult thing to humble yourself after realizing that you were wrong, and to change not only your actions, but your way of thinking. It's a trait that I think some pretty important people in the world could learn from.. If only they would listen.

But overall, being humble is yet another trait that I want to embody here on The Flora Modiste. Never take yourself too seriously, and always listen to others. It's impossible to always be right, no matter how right you may seem or feel.

A little food for thought today.. I hope you love it (and this sewing project!) as much as I do. Stay tuned next week for a full sewing tutorial!

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5 of 7 comments
  • Emilie Emilie on Feb 15, 2021

    Love this look - great for a swimsuit cover up as well! Thanks for sharing!

    • The Flora Modiste The Flora Modiste on Mar 15, 2021

      Ohmygosh Emilie I never thought of that -- such a good idea! Will definitely be looking to try that out this summer. Thanks so much for the note! xx

  • Bridget Seitz Bridget Seitz on Feb 26, 2021

    You can also repurpose an extra large long shirt from thrift shop just working on the sides and sleeves. Skipping all those button hole and collar making?

    • See 1 previous
    • The Flora Modiste The Flora Modiste on Mar 15, 2021

      Bridget, that's such a great suggestion! You could definitely get an oversized men's shirt and just take it in along the sides and the sleeves to get the shape you want. Would definitely save so much time!