Pattern Review: Bonn Shirt(dress)

Today I have an embarrassing story, a lesson learned, and a pattern review, all in one.

When I sew, I always make a mistake or two (or ten). It’s inevitable and, as far as I can tell, normal. Usually it’s only a seam or two that has to be unpicked and redone. So I fix it and forget it.

But some mistakes are not easily forgotten. Some mistakes stick with you. When I tested the Itch-to-Stitch (ITS) Bonn Shirt(dress), I made one of these mistakes. And as embarrassing as it is to share, I’m going to tell you about it because I want you to avoid this mistake and make different, less painful ones instead.

ITS is one of my favorite indie sewing pattern companies. Kennis is the mastermind behind the patterns and she is an excellent pattern maker. I have done a handful of pattern tests for her and have been impressed by the quality products she delivers every single time.

I was super excited about the Bonn pattern because I love shirt dresses, but often have a hard time finding ready to wear ones in the length I prefer (I’m a knee-length skirt/dress kind of gal). The Bonn pattern includes a variety of different options for sleeve lengths and sleeve finishes. The pattern also gives you a choice to make either shirt or dress length garment. The Bonn I meant to create was dress length with long sleeves and cuffs (the kind that have a button and a placket). The Bonn I actually created is dress length with three-quarter length sleeves and no cuffs.

I selected a thrifted cotton chambray from my fabric stash for the test. After I finished cutting and prepping my pieces, I noticed that I had neglected to copy some of the pattern markings, so I had to go back and mark them on my pieces later.

The sewing was going well—ITS patterns always come together nicely and the instructions are clear and descriptive. After a handful of hours, I was mostly done with the project. After inserting the sleeves, I was left with only the hem and buttons to do. I put the dress on for a quick progress check. It was fitting just the way I had hoped. The ease was ideal. The length was perfect. The collar was lining up well. The sleeve caps were smooth.

And the cuffs were upside down.

My plackets were on the wrong side of my sleeves! When I transferred my forgotten markings, I marked the plackets in the wrong place! The placket was on top of my wrist instead of underneath it. I have never sewn something that looked so silly. If you have sewn cuffs and plackets before, you will understand that this was a seriously painful mistake. So much pinning and clipping and grading and ironing went into those perfect little cuffs. I considered swapping the left and right sleeves so the plackets would fall in the right place, but since sleeve caps have a distinct front and back, I knew that that would not be a good remedy. The only solution I could think of was to hack off my pretty cuffs and give the dress three-quarter length sleeves. What a waste!

Thankfully, the three-quarter sleeve version is beautiful and I love it even though it didn’t go exactly as I had planned.

Someday I plan to make another Bonn (maybe a shirt? or another dress with a shirt-tail hem?) and master those cuffs. I have lots of practice now, and you’d better believe I will double and triple check my markings.

The moral of the story: remember to transfer all pattern markings to your pattern pieces. Do it right away before your pattern pieces get separated from your fabric pieces.

The other moral of the story: no matter which version of the pattern you make, it will turn out fantastic. I highly recommend that you give it a shot. Link here. And if you do, I would love to see your pictures!

May you only make simple mistakes. Happy sewing!

What memorable sewing mistakes have you made?
Have you ever sewn an Itch-to-Stitch pattern before?
What other indie sewing pattern makers do you recommend?

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  1. Such a shame about your sleeves but your dress turned out lovely just the same. I’m making a muslin of the Bonn shirt version to test the fit. I made the Vienna Tank Top and I love it. I hope my shirt is as nice as your dress.

  2. Such a lovely dress! I’m a sucker for chambray. I think your mistake ended up working out for the best. Your new sleeve length looks perfect!

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