I feel like I have had the inspiration for this dress (shown below) on my Pinterest board for an eternity, but it’s probably only been a couple of years. The inspiration dress is from the blog Polienne, and it’s a vintage dress that she found at a thrift store. Polien is a style & travel blogger from Belgium, and I loved browsing her recent posts – especially her Mexico Vacation Outfits, since we’ll be there in a few weeks!
I remember asking last summer on my Insta Stories if anyone knew of patterns similar to her beautiful vintage tea dress, and didn’t get any suggestions that were very close, so I kind of just gave up.
When I went to LA in May to meet up with some ladies from the sewing community, we found this AMAZING red floral rayon, but I was going to be back a week later so I didn’t buy it right away. I for sure drove home totally kicking myself for not buying it! A week later when I went back to LA and saw the launch of True Bias’s new Shelby Dress pattern, I absolutely knew it was meant to be, so I made our first stop Angel Textiles to get me some of that fabric (for $2/yard!!)! Thankfully they still had a big roll of it, and I am happy to report that after cutting this dress out, I still have enough to make a top! (SCORE!)
I knew it would take a little bit of brain power, but since there is a dress AND romper view to this pattern, it was actually really easy to blend the two and make my version! I made view B and made three changes to get this look.
First, I used the center front bodice piece of the long dress, but I wanted a shorter placket like the romper. The only change I made was to go in .5″ at the same spot where the romper goes in for the crotch, and draw a straight line all the way down to the hem of the dress. So, the dress piece will look the same except at the center front I will have a long .5″ section taken out from the crotch down to the hem. This makes it so that the placket will end, and the center front bottom half of the dress will be sewn shut.
The other two changes were very easy. I just used the front neck facing for the romper instead of the dress (since it’s not a full placket). I also lengthened the short sleeve pattern piece by 1.5″. For my own personal preference, I also shortened the dress by 3″.
When I was reading the instructions about constructing the dress, I had to pay attention to what it said to do with the center front on both the dress and the romper. You basically end up sewing up the center front bottom half of the dress first, then sew and under-stitching the facing, and finish off the bottom of the placket the same way you do for the romper.
I did make a muslin for the top of this pattern so that I could alter the princess seams to fit me just right. I highly suggest this if you have trouble with patterns with princess seams. I learned that I have a pretty low bust after making the Charleston Dress by Hey June. I altered the pieces the exact same way, so if you have a similar issue, check out the blog post I wrote about how to do a low bust adjustment on princess seams.
Before I started my muslin, I held the center front pattern piece up to me to get a better idea about how much I should lower the bust. Then I lowered the bust by 1.5″ and the waistline by another .5″. I probably could have lowered the bust by only 1.25″ and been fine, but it looked pretty good to me, and I just decided to move on after my first muslin.
My measurements are 38″ bust, 32″ waist, and 42″ hips, so I played it safe and made the size 12, but I definitely think I could have gotten away with a 10 just fine, and that might have helped with the looseness below my bust (or I just lowered my bust by too much). The dress has enough ease around the waist and bust that I can just slip it over my head without having to undo any of the buttons, so if you are in between or close enough to one size, I would say that going down is an okay thing to do (but you should muslin if you’re nervous about the fitting).
The last very minor thing that I did differently was to just tie the ties in a knot at the ends and use Fray Check because I could NOT get my machine to finish off the ends of my ties. I did try using paper (which is a tip in the instructions), but no matter what I tried the ends just kept going crooked and wonky. Pro-tip: if you struggle with turning narrow ties right side out after sewing them right sides together, this video has saved me multiple times now! I also use a bamboo skewer to turn them right side out. It’s seriously SO fast!
True Bias patterns are amazing, and I didn’t have any problems with understanding the illustrations or instructions. The copy shop file printed well and everything lined up perfectly when I was constructing the dress. The newest exciting thing that I have to report is that I recently bought a big dining table and extra cutting mat! So I was able to cut this whole pattern with only having the move the fabric 3-4 times and it was a BREEZE!! I can’t recommend getting a nice big table and large cutting mat highly enough. I think I will finally not dread cutting out patterns (as much) anymore! 😉
Let me know if you decide to make a Shelby Dress like mine, or if you have any questions! Happy sewing!