Floral Brocade Elbow Sleeve Shift Dress

The holiday party invitations started to come in, so I thought, “I need a new party dress!”. So, I rummaged through my fabric stash, flipped through my pattern stash, and consulted my Pinterest idea boards for inspiration, and came up with the idea to make this lovely little dress!



The fabric is a lovely cranberry red, black and metallic silver floral brocade I purchased  a few years ago at Mill End Store in Portland, OR. I also had some nice black silk habotai on hand which I keep in stock for lining my nicer garments.


Metallic Brocade Material

I used McCalls pattern 6893 to make the dress, modifying the 3/4 sleeve boatneck darted bodice and straight skirt view (the sort of silly looking black and pink one at the bottom of the envelope) to eliminate the ruffle at the hem and lengthening the skirt 6 inches. Instead of making the bustier under the overlay of the top, I just cut the top, the midriff and the skirt all out of my fashion fabric as well as the lining.


I appreciate how McCalls puts out these “Create it!” patterns as they encourage the sewer to me imaginative with the pattern design and not just make the garment straight out of the pattern envelope just as shown. Why not mix it up, use the bodice of one pattern and the skirt of another, experiment with different fabrics and make your own creation! Love that.

I actually wouldn’t mind using this pattern again to make another version of it such as the halter neck bodice, the flared skirt, long or short, and I like the overlay effect with the strapless boustier underneath. So many possibilities!

So, before I started to cut into the fabric, I sat down for a moment and drew up an illustration in my Fashionary (another love of mine) just to get a better idea of what the finished dress would look like. I thought it looked pretty darn good:



This being done, I set off to cut and sew! I managed to whip up this number in one day (granted, I was snowed in and didn’t leave the house for 24 hours), which I think was pretty impressive!

I didn’t bother to make a toile this time (tisk-tisk!). I got away with it by taking careful measurements of the pattern and comparing them to my body measurements. The pattern was pretty spot on in terms of fit, so I just went for it. But before I did, I did add to the seam allowances of the skirt, making them 1″ (increasing them by 3/8″ as I cut out the pattern) just in case. Turned out the fit was just fine.

I enjoyed the process, although I took shortcuts along the way. Here I am using a wavy rotary cutter and my pinking shears to trim the seam allowances and finish the raw edges:

And inserting the invisible zipper was a breeze using my handy invisible zipper foot:


Sewing the invisible zip into the back of the dress

All in all, it turned out a great little vintage inspired shift dress! Sure, I wish I had take the time to find a really cool vintage pattern to make to really show off the fabric with pleats, tucks or an interesting drape, but I will use this pattern as a template since it fit so well to make design changes to in the future.

I will try to get a photo of me wearing the dress at one of these parties if I am able to!

Meanwhile, cheers and Happy Holidays People!