Allow me to introduce you to the newest pattern from Itch to Stitch, the Chai Shirt and Dress. This beautiful shirtdress pattern has a vintage flair and a flattering fit that looks good on a wide range of sizes and shapes. I was lucky to be chosen to test this pattern and I’m excited to share my experience with you!
I tested the Chai dress pattern with sleeves for my friend Morgan. As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t fit all of the dresses that I test in my own closet, so I like to sew for my friends. I was really excited to make this dress for Morgan because I knew the style would be perfect for her. Doesn’t she look lovely?
Chai Shirt and Dress Pattern
The Chai Shirt and Dress has two length options, dress and tunic, as well as two sleeve options, sleeveless and short gathered sleeves. A classic two piece collar, bust gathers, a fitted waistband, and front button closure combine to create a simple, yet beautiful silhouette. The style looks great on Morgan, but it also looks great on a wide range of body types. I seriously recommend that you go check out all of the garments that the testers made (blog post with pictures here)—they are beautiful! Everyone looks classy and put together in the Chai.
Did I mention that the Chai has pockets? It does. Huge in-seam pockets. They make this already great dress even better. Thank you to Kennis for always indulging my love of pockets (read more about my obsession here).
This pattern is neither super easy nor super hard. An intermediate sewist should approach this pattern with confidence. Perhaps the most intimidating feature, the two piece collar, is made easy thanks to Kennis’ impeccable drafting and simple instructions. I have made a few two piece collars, but none has come together as easily and as beautifully as the one on this Chai Dress. If you have never sewn a two piece collar before, don’t be scared! This pattern will walk you through the process, step by step, until you have collar you can be proud of.
The Chai Shirt and Dress pattern, like many of the Itch to Stitch patterns, comes in A, B, C, D and DD cups. This feature makes fitting the pattern to your body type a breeze. For Morgan’s dress, I sewed up a shirt-length test garment using inexpensive cotton muslin fabric. Based on her measurements, I cut the front and back bodices, waistband, skirt (in shirt length) to check the fit. I ended up reducing the bust cup size and making no other modifications. Amazing. This is a pattern that fits well straight from the printer.
Fabric & Notions
Morgan’s Chai Dress is made from a lovely two yard cut of cotton Oxford shirting I found at my favorite thrift shop. It is lightweight and perfect for summer. The drape is neither too crisp nor too soft. It does tend to wrinkle, though. Sorry, Morgan! The buttons are ½” shirt buttons from Joann Fabrics.
The Best Collar Ever
Like I mentioned before, the collar on this dress is fantastic. The pattern draft Kennis provides makes sewing a perfectly turned collar very simple. In the past, I’ve spent tons of time trimming and curving and manipulating my fabric in order to achieve a perfect style edge on my collar. The Chai collar pattern doesn’t require any of that.
Instead, the upper and under collars are drafted so that they are not identical. The under collar is a little bit shorter, so you have to stretch it just a bit in order to line up the raw edges. When you do, however, the difference in lengths helps the seam to stay hidden and the collar to fall naturally. Try it. It’s magic.
Determining the right kind of interfacing to use with your fabric and where to put it is one of the trickier aspects of garment sewing. Typically I use a lightweight knit interfacing for everything—even my woven garments. This time, I used a lightweight fusible woven to get a slightly crisper collar and to reduce bulk (the woven is a bit thinner). The pattern instructs you to interface both collar stands, but only one of the collars (the under collar). I love the structure that interfacing both collar stands provides. And, if I were to sew the dress again, I would probably also interface both collars, too. I am happy with the way the collar turned out, but I think an extra layer of interfacing on the upper collar would’ve made it just a bit sharper.
The buttonholes on this dress almost inspired me to find a new hobby. Okay, not really, but they did suck two full evenings of sewing from my life. I have two sewing machines, a classic Pfaff 1221 from 1970 that I use for most of my sewing these days, and a White sewing machine from my youth that I primarily use for buttonholes. Setting up my machine for perfectly balanced buttonholes is very time consuming, so a few months ago I got all the settings just right, and I now only use it for the one function.
Unfortunately, this week, it refused to perform its only job. The feed dogs could not handle the bulk of more than two layers of fabric on the collar stand or on the waistband (or anywhere else, for that matter). I attempted hole after hole (and unpicked hole after hole) trying to get it to work until I could no longer stand it. Despairing, I looked up tutorials on how to hand stitch buttonholes (takes forever) and manually machine sew buttonholes (not very precise) until I discovered that my trusty ol’ Pfaff had a four-step buttonhole function that I never knew about! It took a couple of tries to figure out, but the buttonholes look great! I think it may be time to pass my White on to some other burgeoning young sewist.
After conquering the buttonholes, and sewing on the buttons, I enjoyed meeting Morgan for a mini photo shoot in her new dress. Being photographed for a blog isn’t something she does every week, but she took to it easily. While we were photographing, a couple of runners came by and asked us if we were taking senior pictures! Hah! We both went to college, both have children and are about ten years removed from high school. But I guess we are aging well!
Pattern Purchasing and SALE
If you’d like to grab a copy of the fantastic Chai Shirt and Dress pattern for yourself, I recommend heading over to the Itch to Stitch website within the next week. You can get the pattern on sale until August 13th, no code needed. I’d love to see your photos and hear about your experience! Catch me here, on Facebook or Instagram.