I've mentioned before that I love the latest trend of shirt-dresses, and the fact that this seems to be a trend in quite a few stores on the high street.
Although I love the fact that most of these shirts have long sleeves or are modest enough to be layered without looking awkward, I've found that there isn't enough variety out there. I've seen a lot of plain dresses and a few floral ones, but I couldn't see anything which was colourful or a little different, so I got the idea of making my own shirt dress. I've been veering towards making my own designs anyway, since I've been looking for something more unique, and thought I'd experiment a little with what I find.
I've grown up being comfortable with home-made outfits - my mum is an excellent tailor and having a sewing machine in the house was normal in our neighbourhood (a lot of our aunts used to sew as well or work for local warehouses and factories from home). It's strange to see how times have changed; when we were younger we used to get our mums to sew our salwar kameezes from fabrics bought from a local shop or market, usually with minimal work, and either wore the plainer ones at home as casual outfits, or the fancier ones for special events. These days no one does this, 'ready-'made' outfits, which was more of a luxury back then, is now the norm - it's not worth buying nice fabric if you have to spend extra to get it made as well!
Lucky for me, my mum's pretty experienced when it comes to making clothes, although as she's gotten older she sews less and either uses a local tailor, or buys us ready-made outfits from the shop or from Pakistan. Having said that, she'll still turn her hand at making the odd abayah or dress.
I'm always wandering around local shops and markets, Green Street's famous Queens Market has an amazing stall with beautiful fabrics, there's another good market my mum recommends in Romford, and there's always odd fabric shops dotted around in local areas.
I wanted something floral, so had a look around different places to get an idea of prints - these are just some of the ones I found that I loved.
These are some of the fabrics I ended up buying, you can see they're all floral prints in different colours and styles, I wanted light cotton and polyester fabrics which would be ideal for warmer weather, especially because it can be difficult to know how to dress modestly and still wear light outfits when it gets hot.
I decided to make the light green floral one on the left first - can you believe this fabric only cost me £3?!
I gave the fabric to my mum, who in all honesty, made the outfit for me. I wanted to make the majority of it, but I didn't do much in the end (mostly because she made the whole thing in a day and didn't want to wait for me!)
She made it in a straight-shirt style, the front being higher than the bottom, with buttons along the front and full sleeves. She didn't add a collar to this one, mainly because I hate wearing collars with a scarf (one of the reasons I hardly wear smart shirts!), and also so the top wouldn't be too bulky. The actual fabric is very light and sheer as well, so the material was not structured enough to be shaped into a collar. I did love the buttons on this though, they're big and chunky, and look pretty striking against the fabric. Again, these buttons were from my mum's collection of buttons!
I was really happy that my mum made this in time for me to take it on holiday with me to Greece - it was just perfect for the weather because it was so light. The shirt itself was quite sheer so I still had to wear a top under it, but it didn't feel too layered and I think it worked quite well.
This is me wearing it on holiday, it was a pretty good fit (which sounds obvious, seeing as it was tailored for me!) and was loose enough to feel breezy and comfortable.
EVALUATION: Although I didn't make this shirt-dress myself, I was really happy with how it came out. I didn't need much fabric (I bought 3 metres to be on the safe side, and probably only used about 2 metres). The actual structure of this shirt was very simple - it's literally three pieces for the body, and two sleeves. I've already worn it about 4 times since I made it last month, and it's perfect modest-wear for me - long and loose.
I also like the fact that this was so cheap, and you won't find this anywhere else! Having said that, I know how easy it is to not bother with making outfits from fabric - I still have printed fabrics that I've bought and never got made from laziness or just the fact that getting it tailored is costly.
I'll be trying another outfit soon to make, and will definitely post results of the next one.
What do you think of making your own outfit - would you try it?