I recently had the opportunity to pattern test for Kennis of Itch To Stitch. The Chai Shirt Dress is a flattering fit and flare style shirt/dress with a classic collar and nice, deep pockets (that’s how you know a woman designed it. Only men inflict pocketless things on us. “She can’t possibly need to carry anything! She’s just for looking at!”). The bottom of the waistband sits at the smallest part of the waist, elongating the legs. The arm holes lie perfectly for the right sleeveless placement. I feel like I’m always having to shave some off to get the right look, but not with the Chai! I’m pretty sure this design is one of the most flattering things in my pattern collection, and it’s the perfect dress to throw on for a casual yet pulled together look.
The directions are really straightforward and easy to follow. I don’t know if this happens to you, but every time I use a big 4 pattern, I glance at the instructions and think that they must have been written by a drunken toddler. My Gram used to say that the first thing you should do when you get a new pattern is throw out the instructions and cutting diagram, and in most cases she was totally right. But these instructions are definitely worth keeping around! It’s so nice to have instructions that actually make sense. It becomes more like sewing by numbers. And I don’t have to turn off my audio book to read the directions 7 times slowly and then start swearing.
I used a teal linen that I picked up from Joann fabrics. Based off my measurements, I sewed a size 0 – B cup. I shortened the bodice by an inch and the hem by 2 1/2 inches (I’m 5’3 and am basically always #sewingsmall) and did a 1/2in swayback adjustment. I love the front of this dress, but I think the back feels too big. Next time, at Kennis’ suggestion, I’ll sew the front pieces at a size 0 and the back pieces a 00. That said, the roomier back makes this the perfect hot weather dress.
One thing I’d suggest is hand sewing in a hook and eye closure between the waistband buttons and the first skirt button. It seems like if the button isn’t in exactly the right place or if your hip and waist measurement have a large difference (mine is 11 inches), then there might be a little gaping there. A hook and eye easily fixes that. And then you don’t have to stress about getting the precisely perfect button placement.
I’m looking forward to sewing this up in a fabric with more drape next time. I love this linen, but it’s a little stiff and I think makes the hip curves more pronounced. All of my fitting changes for next time are minor and nitpicky. This dress fit really well with just my standard alterations.
Overall, I’m pretty in love with this dress. It’s so flattering, and straightforward enough to feel easy, but involved enough that you feel accomplished at the end. I can’t wait to try another with my small alterations to take it from an A to an A+. I definitely see more of these in my future! After a string of really terrible sewing failures I really needed this win!