Shirtwaist Dress, Gertie New Book for Better Sewing

This is me playing catch up with a make that’s a few months old. I recently wore it out to a Nigerian musical Wakaa and the amount of African wax print outfits on show made me release that my stash/wardrobe is not yet complete without some more of these gorgeous fabrics.

_MG_0038web (1)

The Pattern

Not being too much of a pre 1960’s vintage girl Gertie was never one of my sewing blog crushes but I was making this with Gabby who has all her books. We chose this pattern from her book Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, I think a shirtdress is such a wardrobe staple and I really like effect the shirring on this one had.

Plus, trying shirring and making buttonholes, new techniques I hadn’t tried before.



THIS FABRIC. Hands down the best fabric I’ve bought in my short sewing life.  I initially was going to go with a more sensible fabric but I just kept on coming back to the chickens.


Ever since I’ve been visiting Walthamstow market, Goldhawk Road fabric shops have been upgraded to being on the pricey side. Desperate not to spend too much money and too lazy to pop down to Walthamstow,  I took a tip from a friend that the market there has super cheap fabric shops. So I went into Shepherds Bush market, just next to Goldhawk Road. The prices are just as low as he said and I got 6 metres (the fabric was pre cut) of this for £9. Bargain.


I made a size 12 (if I remember correctly…it was a while ago)..and, for me, the proportions on the sleeves and bodice are really off. The shoulders (and if you read my blog regularly, you know I have a thing about shoulders) where so puffed out it turned this pear shaped girl into a square. I took away at least an extra 5cm off the upper sleeve.

Also the pockets. The pockets are far too low and even Gabby (we made the same size)  who is taller then me (so must have longer arms!?!) struggled with this low pocket placement. We both brought the pockets up but I didn’t do it enough for it to be comfortable when putting my hands in my pocket.

_MG_0082副本 (1)

If you are attempting to have a go with this dress Heather does an extremely detailed post on how she tackled the sleeve/bodice alterations here, which are definitely more helpful than what I can provide. I did a lot of guesstimations…and no toile..bad sewer me.

I’m probably going to take off the sleeves and have it as a sleeveless dress and I hope that will solve a lot of the issues I have with it.

_MG_0033web (1)

This is the original dresses length,I’m 5’3, I was going to shorten the hem but these days (since I crossed over to the 26-35 category) I’m liking the longer look. When I put on the pearl earrings and necklace my mum said I looked like I came from the 60’s and I feel in love with this dress.

_MG_0031web (1)

Now, newly opening chicken shop, thank you! 5 minutes after leaving my house I saw this wall, shouted ‘CHICKENS!!’ Tried to ignore the many people walking past and became the ultimate chicken woman I was apparently destined to become.

This is another vlogged make and as you can see on Wednesdays we wear stripes.

Thanks for popping in and reading,

Meg x

37 thoughts on “Shirtwaist Dress, Gertie New Book for Better Sewing

  1. Hi Meg just watched yours and gabby video on the shirtwaist dress and im having the same problem you both did with the extra 4cm when you try to attach bodice to skirt. I have no idea what im doing wrong and its driving me crazy. How did you both fix this as your dresses looked amazing?
    Maz x

  2. This is such fun – the fabric, the shape, the length, the shoes, the jewellery, the chicken wall, the vlog…What a star. Love you sewing Megan. Well done.

  3. Hahaha!!! That’s the funniest comment I’ve ever had! I wore my new fake jumpsuit today and my husband asked if I would walk 5 mins behind him! Thank you. X

  4. LOVE the photo against the chicken wall – just brilliant! Since I crossed the 46-55 line, I’ve decided that I don’t care what anyone thinks about age appropriate dressing and wear whatever I like. That’s the beauty of getting older:)

  5. Hate it when there’s not sewing time! I can understand and the fabric pile!! Slightly scared of mine at the moment haha x

  6. Thank you! I’m so glad I’ve got more leftover to make some more things! Are you gonna do the Simplicity blogger challenge? x

  7. Thank you! and thanks for watching the vlog it’s really fun making them although this dress was a bit rushed haha 🙂

  8. Thank you, I’m glad I can be a motivator! Everyone needs another pretty dress :p I am always so impressed with quilters, your blog desperately makes me want to start my first quilt, I really need to learn! Hoping to follow one of your tutorials soon so thanks so much for them 🙂 xx

  9. I really want to make another one! They are great to throw on but still look smart. I need to but more fabric too, good luck on finding some 🙂

  10. Megan, your site is absolutely adorable! I’ve had so much fun looking through it! (You make me want to drop everything and sew a pretty dress for myself.) I am excited to continue to follow your sewing adventures. xo, Bridgette

  11. Too many things I want to make! Even just the pattern pile with fabric already selected/bought is waist high. And I’m hitting a busy spot in life with no spare time to sew. It’s torture!

  12. Thank you! I really want to keep real chickens one day but I live in a no pets place, love seeing your chicken picture. Sewing chicken fans united haha 🙂

  13. Thank you! Have you got a particular dress from the book you want to make up? I always find it hard to sew from books, sewing patterns just always get the attention! I’ve got my eye on the sultry sheath, it looks amazing but my list of what I want to make is 15 items deep o.0

  14. Shirring is amazing! I hate an elasticated waistband but shirring is a fantastic alternative as it gives you the comfort and I think it looks so much nicer. Thank you! and do you have a blog? I’m always looking for more and I’ld love to see your makes 🙂

  15. Thank you! I feel a bit self conscious as this isn’t my usual style but I’m glad I kept the length and do feel really elegant in this. Really want to make another shirt dress now! 🙂

  16. Looks fabulous! I haven’t made anything with Gertie’s book yet. The chickens are awesome.

  17. I love the funky chicken fabric, the dress looks fab on you and I hadn’t thought of shirring the waist of a shirtdress before. I seem to have a similar issue with sleeves and my latest handmade dress simplicity 1610 and a rtw dress I brought are both going to have their sleeves removed soon

  18. It’s such an elegant style and the sleeves definitely don’t make you look a square! Love a shirt dress and this is no exception.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.