Suzi's Atelier Brunette Agnes Dress Hack
Hi, I’m Suzi from @suzi.sew and I’m very excited to share one of my recent makes; an Agnes PJs dress hack.
I’ve been thinking about a shirt dress for a while, never being quite sure which style I should go for. The inspiration for this make came one night in January, while watching the West End show Ocean at The End of the Lane (It was fantastic! I’m not paid to say this!). One of the characters wore a colourful 80s inspired shirt dress. One of those with big sleeves, slightly puffy on the top, with a waist tie. I immediately decided that I wanted one, too.
I spent some time looking for patterns but hadn’t found a suitable one so I decided to work with the Agnes PJ pattern by Paper Theory. I had made that pattern before and thought that the oversized fit and the batwing sleeves would work well with my idea. I thought for a long time how I would actually construct it and ended up with the following design:
- Shortened Agnes PJs top pattern to reach just below my waistline.
- Short sleeves.
- Elastic waist covered by belt. This would achieve the balloony look.
- A skirt attached at the waist.
I wanted the dress to be fluid and loose, I was after light fabric with drape. Sew Me Sunshine kindly gifted me this Atelier Brunette viscose dobby. Before cutting into the fabric, I constructed a toile to make sure that my design made sense. First, I needed to assess how long the bodice had to be. To find out, I wore my linen viscose Agnes PJs shirt and noted where it reached my waist. I then added about two inches plus seam allowance. (The extra length is for the puffy look.) I also shortened the sleeves by cutting at the “Lengthen or shorten sleeve here” line. I also took in the curve of the sleeves in by 1 cm to straighten them out at the waist. (Make sure you align the curve on both the front and back pieces.)
I used a straight skirt for the toile and a 1.5 cm seam allowance at the waist for both skirt and top so that it could be used for a narrow elastic, too. I was pretty happy with the fit of the toile, I only decided to use a circle skirt instead of a straight one.
I really enjoyed working on the “real” version of the dress. Paper Theory’s instructions are always super detailed and I didn’t do many amendments for this hack, so it was a quite simple sew. I made sure to sew my buttons (from Textile Garden) before attaching the skirt and I also basted the shirt closed in the waistline seam allowance. For the circle skirt I used the midi skirt pattern from the Deer & Doe Dressed book. I picked a size that matched the width of my Agnes top pattern (+ seam allowance). I tried adjusting the skirt pattern for a straight waistline and failed miserably; the hem had to be straightened eventually as it was all wonky but it ended up pretty decent. Just don’t look too closely. Lastly, I made a tie waist by cutting two 6 cm wide strips along the selvedge and then sewed them together.
Some of you might stop reading now—I did not attach pockets. I know, I know. I just don’t really like pockets on loose, light viscose items as I can’t put anything in them anyway, as they end up pulling the garment.
Overall, I am very pleased with the dress, it turned out exactly the way I envisioned it. I think the pattern works really well with the fabric; I like how the texture elevates it but still keeps it simple. The dress is also pretty versatile, I plan to wear it to work but also to a garden wedding that’s coming up.
To wrap up, here are a couple comments if you decide to sew an Agnes PJs dress too:
- I used a fabric with a lot of drape and I’m not sure if it’s the best choice for the pattern, as the sleeves are cut slightly on the bias .The fabric warped when folding the hem so I had to adjust it slightly to even it out. Perhaps a rolled hem would have been a better option.
- I didn’t interface the button facings so as not to affect the drape.
- I used around 2.4 m of fabric for a shirt size 6 and a midi skirt, I’m 168 cm tall.
Thank you for reading and please tag me in your makes if you make an Agnes Pjs dress!