The Nina Shirt Dress

The Nina Dress by Cotton and Chalk for Simply Sewing Magazine was sat on my sewing list with no real conviction. I probably would have gotten around to it at some point. Then I saw the #sewtogetherforsummer challenge on instagram created by the lovely SarahMonika and Suzy in which everyone is making a shirt dress.. err.. for Summer, obviously!

I had bought this lovely grey vintage fabric in my holiday haul and even though it’s not very summery, it’s a lovely soft colour and really light. I was determined to make it work, even though I didn’t really have enough fabric… So there was some serious pattern tetris going on and I still didn’t have enough for the collar and the facing… Or the sleeves. My solution was to use a contrast and I’m not sure if this has worked or not.

I cut my size and measurements, even though my previous attempts at Cotton and Chalk patterns have been dangerously heavy on the ease! I thought this would work to my advantage when making a shirt dress as ready to wear dresses like this often don’t fit me.

There’s 6 body pieces, which came together nicely. In lieu of my facings, which I don’t really like anyway, I used a white bias binding as I knew I was using white for my collar and sleeves.

In spirit of the challenge there is a fabulous tutorial on collars on Sarah’s blog which I had a good read through; it has some great tips. I’ve only ever done one collar before on my brother’s shirt but I strangely enjoy the process. I’m really pleased with this way this one turned out and definitely won’t be scared of them in future.

On a whim and in an attempt to tie the contrast sleeve in with the rest of the dress, I created a slim cuff for my sleeves in the grey. The pattern does come with a frill cuff but frills aren’t my thing.


I put it together to a point, before my mum came for tea and I was forced to tidy my house! Rude! I looked at it at this point and felt it looked a little like a uniform. It was also, predictably, too big but I had the 6 seams to work on for fitting.

And.. oh my goodness, did I have to work on the fitting. It not only had too much ease but it was absolutely massive. I used a technique (if you can call it that) which I’ve seen lots of people do and I pinned it at the front, put it on inside out and stapled it in place where I needed to take it in. After this very long process I had a dress which fit but had a bit more flare at the bottom, which I actually quite like and I think suits my shape.


I found these amazing white square buttons at my local haberdashery, which tie in with the pattern perfectly. As I added these and started to get the fit, I found I started to like it better.


I hand hemmed the bottom, which is fast becoming my favourite way of finishing garments, now that I have gotten over my hatred of hand sewing! Then, she was complete.

For some reason I then left her sat in my wardrobe looking at me, until the day I came to wear it to work and I realised I love it, I love the colour and it has suprisingly won me round as a summer dress, I love the shape and I love the square buttons the most!!


It’s been a great challenge to be part of and I’ve since tackled two more collars, which you will soon see on my next makes, I’m sure.


13 Comments Add yours

  1. Lesley says:

    Hmm I’d intended to make this dress last week but was put off by all the reviews saying how large the pattern was. Well done for persevering as it it looks great now

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find all their patterns to be like that to be honest. I’d say go a size smaller than normal and you’ll be fine. It’s pretty easy to construct otherwise and has a nice shape so don’t be too put off. I wouldn’t rule out trying it again, though there are many nice shirt dress patterns out there too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this. I don’t think I’m going to get my shirt dress started by the deadline let alone finished!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. They do take a little longer to sew up than others. Still, it’s still nice to make one at any time. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Naomi says:

    Love the contrast! Super chic.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. corrineappleby says:

    It looks great! Well done for persevering with the fit. When I first saw your fabric I thought it was covered in little sheep!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. Strange lots of people have said that! ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  5. lifewithmrst says:

    I love the vintage style of this dress and it fits you perfectly, you remind me of a 1940s land girl if you get what I mean. Beautiful xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Nicki, that’s really kind. I do love the dress! Xx


  6. norma says:

    Love the contrast – I think it works really well.

    Liked by 1 person

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