a blog about my adventures in dressmaking, crochet, knitting and anything else i try to make.

isca shirtdress

oh boy do i love this dress.

if i had to restrict myself to 7 words, those would be them!  however it’s my blog and i’m generally quite a wordy gal, so i’ve got many more than 7 words to say.

i’ll start by saying i won this pattern, along with a book about printing fabric by zeena, in a competition marilla & zeena ran in late december.  the book is so lovely with some really different ideas about printing fabric, and actually includes things you can really do at home, which i love!  i haven’t got the capacity to get a whole flipping screen printing set up, but there’s some really great things you can do with a lint roller & elastic bands!  here’s a link to the book on her shop!


onto the dress then!  it’s marilla’s latest dress pattern; the isca shirtdress.

i made version a, the more “classic” shirt dress, with the collar.


the thing that sold me about the pattern even before i won it was the really interesting diagonal seam detailing on the bodice.  they are actually functional princess seams, not just a fancy design feature which i really like.

marilla’s instructions are fantastic throughout. she’s included really details diagrams and notes on how to do SBAs/FBAs which are invaluable, especially on view B which has a really different construction.

i made my first version in this grey fabric which was on the £2p/m table at barry’s.  i didn’t expect to want to wear it afterwards, it really was a fit check, but after i’d constructed the bodice i decided just to go for it and make the whole dress because i loved the way it was coming together.  i think it’s a suiting fabric, and i’ve worn it to work a few times (my office is pretty casual!).

i made a size 5 overall after looking at the finished garment measurements.  i could probably go down a size, especially in the waist, but as it’s an over the head dress, i didn’t want to take too much away in case i couldn’t get it on!

i used buttons i bought from liberty when i went with my mom one day, and i think they’re a nice compliment to the dress.  i wonder if the buttons cost more than the dress fabric? i can’t remember how much they were now haha.

for my second version, i raised the waist by 1cm, and took another inch off the already-shortened skirt from the grey version… probably a total of about 4 inches off the original pattern length.   i’m not a tall lady and looking at the pictures of marilla’s samples, i could see it was going to be a bit longer than i was comfortable with.

i bought my denim at the same time as buying the grey fabric, so it’s from barry’s again.  i can’t even tell you how soft and lovely this stuff is to work with and wear too.  i wanted to really take my time with this, but then i got invited down to london to claire-louise’s studio, and decided this was the dress i wanted to wear haha.  it got lots of lovely compliments from everybody there, so i would say it was a success!

i’m always so frustrated by top stitching on collars.  why can’t it be perfect?  i spent a long time unpicking and re-stitching as i was using such an obvious contrast colour thread.  i’m hoping it’s okay now anyway.

i used buttons from my nan’s sewing box, which my dad gave to me after she passed away about 18 months ago.  her mom used to make outfits to go dancing in, so there’s some pretty interesting stuff among it all!  i really like the texture of these buttons, and i’ve got some left over to make something else with too which is great.

i couldn’t be happier with this dress, i just wish i had good reason to make another 5 haha.

happy sewing!


6 Discussions on
“isca shirtdress”
  • This is one (two!) of the best versions of the Isca that I have seen. You made it fit and look relaxed and casual without looking schlumpy. Hooray! I might actually purchase this pattern thanks to your makes.

  • I love your dress, I’m going to start with view B but as I fall between a size 5/6 I was wondering how you found the fit across the shoulders and bust? Also, first time visiting your blog and I’m just curious, you say you’re from Birmingham but you wrote “mom” instead of “mum”, are you originally from America?

    • i’m happy with the sizing across the bust – it’s the most fitted part of the dress but i still have some ease. i think i fitted into the 6 size but downsized and i’m really happy with it! about the mom thing – brummies are renowned for saying mom, not mum! haha.

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