The Revolutionary Shirtdress! McCall’s 6885

So much to celebrate! First up –  our book is now available – 3 weeks ahead of schedule 🙂 While we were surprised, we are delighted it was released before holiday madness takes over!

With the upcoming year being the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment,  I’m celebrating the debut of A Stylish Guide to Classic Sewing with a once revolutionary garment which is now a classic: The Shirtdress.


Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote. So why is a shirtdress revolutionary?

The Edwardian Shirtdress was one of the first dresses absent of back closures which allowed women to get dressed without the help of a dresser or husband – independence! Think about those suffragettes marching in bustled shirtdresses!


Exactly one year ago I was in Honolulu at the invitation of the Hawaii Stitchery and Fibre Arts Guild. I purchased the fabulous Japanese cotton at Kaimuki Dry Goods; a must-visit fabric store. This lovely store opened in 1928 as a true dry goods store. Over the years it transitioned to a fabric and sewing specific store and is loaded with beautiful Japanese cottons + more! I especially enjoyed browsing the vintage Hawaiian patterns. My only regret is not buying more of these gorgeous cottons!

In order to maintain the fabric’s unique and crisp texture, I chose not to prewash the fabric so the dress gets to be dry-cleaned.  Joy.


My pattern is McCall’s 6885 which I’ve sewn once before (blogged here). I selected View D but used a straight hem as opposed to the shaped hem. Here is a link to a wonderful tutorial on the The McCall Pattern Company blog on sewing this pattern’s placket.M6885_a

It’s been a while since I’ve had the luxury to sew in a relaxed manner until now. Throughout this project I was gently reminded of the results of meditative sewing. Topstitching the collar, the placket, the sleeve tabs and sash brought a tailored cohesiveness to the dress. Double click or magnify for details (slightly concealed in the fabric’s design!).


To belt or not to belt?


The pattern instructions stitch the belt into the side seams, but I love the option of either and sewed a separate sash.sd3 2The dress is loose but not full which is why it works either way. However, I did shape the back with two disappearing darts. Otherwise I made no adjustments to the pattern.


Shirtdress with back darts

In keeping with the spirit of relaxed and meditative sewing, I used French Seams throughout the dress. The result of my new shirtdress is everything I was hoping for: tailored yet relaxed, versatile and wearable…

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…….but best of all I can dress myself without any help! 😂😂😂😂






The Revolutionary Shirtdress! McCall’s 6885