Self drafted white linen shirt dress pattern // Closet Case Files
Sewing Projects

SUMMER STAPLE // SELF DRAFTED LINEN SHIRT DRESS

The nice thing about having a bunch of blocks and half drafted patterns sitting around (you have no idea how many things I have started playing with and then discarded like a baby with amnesia) is that when you have a vision of a  very particular simple dress stuck in your head, it probably won’t take that long to just draft it yourself.

pssst… As of April 2017, this dress is now a pattern! You can snag it in our shop here.

The original incarnation of this pattern was actually a shirt dress project from way back last year; I was inspired by the look of women in oversized men’s oxford shirts (nothing sexier in my opinion… nothing). It’s still an idea I love and may dust off one day, but my original drafts made the perfect base for this particular shirt dress. I wanted something super lightweight and loose fitting that would look great in linen, and be easy to wear during my travels this summer.

Self drafted white linen shirt dress pattern // Closet Case FilesSelf drafted white linen shirt dress pattern // Closet Case FilesSelf drafted white linen shirt dress pattern // Closet Case Files

I couldn’t be happier with it if it woke me up every morning with a cup of strong tea and a croissant. It’s the absolute 100% perfect thing to wear when it’s so hot you want to cry, I can dress sit it up or down, and because it’s made from a beautiful creamy white linen, I feel like Meryl Streep in Out of Africa but minus all the problematic neo-colonial undertones.

It is also easily the most complimented thing I’ve ever made; I’ve been chased down the street to ask where I got it. “My Bernina” isn’t the most helpful reply, sorry ladies.

Self drafted white linen shirt dress pattern // Closet Case Files Self drafted white linen shirt dress pattern // Closet Case FilesSelf drafted white linen shirt dress pattern // Closet Case Files

The construction is pretty simple. It has a banded kimono sleeve with a classic shirt collar. What’s unique is the deeply curved hem, an exaggerated version of a men’s shirt hem. It’s so curved that it had to be finished with matching bias tape rather than the typical fold press and stitch hem (if I change anything I might shorten the back by just a smidge). I also extended the back yoke into the sleeve and drafted an extra wide back pleat; I like how fluid and  sculptural it feels from behind.

Self drafted white linen shirt dress pattern // Closet Case FilesSelf drafted white linen shirt dress pattern // Closet Case FilesSelf drafted white linen shirt dress pattern // Closet Case Files

I was so happy to have it in Barcelona when it got uncomfortably hot and sticky, and even happier that I packed a pair of bike shorts to wear with it (I don’t know when my inner thighs became allergic to humidity, but the chaffing is NO JOKE).

Heat rash aside, I’m looking forward to making a dozen more next summer, in every shade of linen available. Because.

What do you think of this dress/pattern? What’s your secret summer weapon (besides bike shorts?)

Details: Self drafted linen shirt dress, handmade Greek sandals from Etsy

  • Marie

    I will pay for this pattern 🙂

    • Well okay then! (starts scheming)

      • Marie

        I’ve been thinking about turning the Melilot pattern into a shirtdress since the beginning of the summer, but I love what you did with the yoke and will buy the pattern to avoid the trial and error process of doing it myself hah 🙂

  • Love it!! The linen is so perfect. The shape of the dress reminds me of the Style Arc Blair I made recently, although your hem is much more dramatic!

  • Becky

    Please please please release this as a pattern. I would buy this in a second. Love it. I would wear this year round with tights and boots in the winter.

  • Kohlrabi

    This looks just perfect! Love it! Might have to sew something similar in time to wear next summer, because it really looks like this year’s summer is very quickly coming to an end.

    • I know. I am trying to process “winter is coming”.

  • Uhm… Could you please release this as a pattern? It is gorgeous!!!

    • kalimak

      Seconded! The only similar dress I’ve seen is McCall’s 7387. And let me tell you, the pleat on that one is way too deep — I abandoned it at the muslin stage because it felt like lugging around a bolt of fabric on my bike. I would love an indie alternative with a manageable pleat 🙂

      Such a beautiful dress…

      • Gotcha! I think I can help with “fabric bolt on bike” problem 😉

  • I love this dress and would buy the pattern if you decide to release it. Also: you look AMAZING and you had me cracking up so hard with the Out of Africa reference.

    P.S. I have an awesome solution for the summer thigh chafing I’ll tell you next time we’re chatting. xo

    • Is it called Body Glide? That seems to be the winner in the comments here.

      • Nope, I just use my antiperspirant. 1 product: 2 uses. I discovered this a few years ago and have never looked back.

  • Jen l

    Beautiful dress, Heather! (I think you drafted what I’ve been looking for years too!)

    Chafing>anti-blister and anti-chafing products like the ones made by Band-Aid or Monocil or ‘glide’ products made for runners.

    • Awesome advice! I am going to hunt down some anti-chafe stuff today.

  • Dana Bultje

    I want it…. This should be a new pattern 😉

    • FLANNEL! What a great idea.

      • Dana Bultje

        Cute and cozy. Always a good mix 😉 And I am loving the hints that this might be a pattern. I would live in it 24/7.

  • This NEEDS to be a pattern. In the meantime, I’ll try to adapt the Deer & Doe Melilot pattern, but it doesn’t have any of the gorgeous details yours has, like that gorgeous extended yoke, and the back pleat. I WANT THIS SO BAD.

  • Katie

    GORGEOUS! I’ve been lusting after this exactly. Please be a pattern.

    • Well okay Katie. I’ll see what I can do.

  • Maria Shell

    I would love to see you make this into a pattern. It is truly perfect.

    • I hear you! Loving this response from everyone 😉

  • Oooh…me likey! Funny, I’ve just been pondering a similar silhouette…well, my shirt dress pattern but without a waistline. The sleeve design really makes yours sing!

    Secret summer weapon? Vancouver…

  • Carolyn Norman

    Heather – I would buy this pattern if you sold it! It’s everything I’m looking for in a summer dress and of course you look AMAZING!

    • Aw, thanks Carolyn! Guess i need to switch gears for fall 😉

  • Tyan Walker

    Pattern please. I would wear that to death.

  • Please please please make a pattern out of this!!! Looks great on you and would be the perfect staple in any wardrobe.

  • I want the pattern, too! It looks great on you and sounds perfect for summertime!

  • SaSa

    Oh, I love to sew his pattern, too! Last year, I made two linen Malvarosa dresses which I love, and this year is Inari love.

    • The Malvarosa pattern is so cute! I should make it one day.

  • Gah I have been looking for a pattern like this all summer! Another vote for, “make a pattern out of this pretty please” — I’d totally buy it and make a bunch of them! Would be sweet with a popover version too! 😉 Gorgeous pictures btw

    • The original pattern I drafted this from totes had a popover 😉

  • Linnea

    LOVE THIS! Would be soooo thrilled if you released it as a pattern

  • Cadi

    There is a 100% chance I’m ripping this off this weekend.

  • Chloe Anderson

    Love love love it! I would have been one of those passers by asking where you got it – beautiful! And one of those silhouettes it is oddly hard to find a pattern for. My secret summer weapon is actual shorts – tougher to wear to work, though. But they are a thigh saver in this hot hot heat, and then I’m not suffocated by “slip shorts”. Though they are a great invention. Ha – rambling!!

    • I love shorts too but its so hard to find a silhouette that works with wide hips. I’m working on something 😉

      • Chloe Anderson

        That is good news! Hope Montreal has a break in the weather soon, Toronto’s high today will “feel like 43” – aaackkkk! The shorts are getting a serious work out this summer!

  • Haha, I made something just like this with sleeves by hacking a 2001 Burda-Pattern out of thin chambray. I’ve been wearing mine with a belt, but maybe I shouldn’t. And I should definitely make another one in white. Love the Men’s Shirt Look.

    • I stopped wearing belts at my waist a while a go and HAVE NEVER LOOK BACK! WAIST LIBERATION!

  • katie o’meallie

    Please times a million make this a pattern! I’d make 20. You’re right – it’s perfect!

  • Lush! If this won’t be a pattern (even just your personal one, we’re about the same size :p) I reckon I’m going to hack the Deer & Doe Melilot to copy this…

    • I think it might be a pattern based on everyone’s response, hahaha!

  • Jessica H.

    Oh, yes please! I love it and would love to own this pattern! I get a bit put-off by the complexity of many shirt-dress patterns on the market (I only have so much time to sew and I don’t want to spend it fitting or fiddling with details). This would be perfect and I could actually see myself sewing it up for summer and then wearing it into fall with leggings and a sweater.

    • I am TOTALLY brainstorming styling ideas for the fall…. It would be so pretty with cozy tights and a light rayon print!

  • Pleeeasee pleaase pleaase make this into a pattern for fall (just add long sleeves as an option) It’s such a beauty! And I am more than willing to test it for you 😉

    • Noted 😉

    • HW

      I want to second this request!!!

  • JD

    I always want to like shirt dresses, but they usually end up looking less like a dress and more like a long shirt and no pants to me. But this…this, I like. A lot.

    • That means a lot! I’m so happy you like it.

  • Angela Hickman

    I would chase you down the street to find out where you got it, be delighted when you said you made it yourself, and then crushed/impressed that it’s a self-drafted pattern. This is seriously gorgeous. So fluid without feeling shapeless…

    Re: The horrible chaffing that will make you curse not bringing either a) more pairs of shorts (because the sweatyness is also no joke) and/or b) all heat in general, may I suggest Body Glide? It’s sold in running stores and is specifically designed to prevent chaffing. You apply it like deodorant wherever you need it, it has no colour or smell, and it actually works. Best $14 I spend every summer.

    • I am seriously going to hunt some down this week!

  • Christine Griffin

    HIlda shorts!! They are MAGIC for anti-chaffing and you can make them out of cute or neutrals. Plus, if your dress rides up, who cares? Its lacy and pretty!

    Also, I’m like the 50th person to say this, but PLEASE MAKE THE PATTERN. I don’t even like kimono-esque sleeves and this looks amazing.

    Your pattern-making skills are amazing.

    • Great pattern suggestion and thanks for the kind words Christine!

  • Kirsten Gobel

    Please make this pattern!! I’ve made 5 shirt dresses so far in an attempt to make the perfect shirt dress. None have made the cut with me( I have 2 more patterns I was going to try). This dress is exactly what I’ve been wanting! Please for fall!! I love what you do!! so fab!

  • Kirsten Gobel

    one more thing to add here,.. I sewed myself a pair of Ginger jean shorts(most comfortable shorts EVER) that I routinely wear under my dresses. The other day I was in a quilt shop & one of the ladies saw my shorts & after that almost everyone in the store requested me to lift my skirt so they could check out my shorts. Haha!

  • Absolute perfection! I’m not usually one for relaxed-fit shirt dresses, but this totally does it for me. I think it’s the kimono sleeves rolled up combined with the high/low hem. Oh, and linen! I mean is there anything better in the summer?

  • FHC

    Oh it’s perfect! I love that the pleat and billow take it safely out of nightshirt territory, and the yoke is excellent fun

    • Thank you! I was worried it would be nightshirty but I’m glad you don’t think so!

  • I love the yoke. It makes it. And I’m stealing. I pay no higher compliment

  • YES!! I love love love this. Was this the one with the interfacing issue? If so, I can see why you were so motivated to save it.

    • Yes, this is the one. I just unpeeled it from the collar so its just loosey goosey in there. Next time i’m using silk organza with linen!

  • Caroline Hutton

    Heather, you totally nailed it. Everything. Seriously. This is my favourite of your makes. You have great vision and execution. So happy just to see this 😉 If only Ontario fabric stores would stock white linen that isn’t as see through as waxed paper….

    • Thank you so much Caroline! Great linen can be so hard to find….

  • patsijean

    I too would love this as a pattern.

  • Anne

    I like the shape and most of the details. I can see this in a shorter version, perhaps hip length as a shirt. I particularly like the sleeves and back pleat. I would be happy to see this up.

    • I have a shirt version in mind that could be fabulous!

  • Gasp, so gorgeous! I need this to wear all summer in Perth. Can you have the pattern ready by December?!!

  • Mary

    I like loose on other people, but am not convinced for myself. The bike shorts thing, I’m with you there. If you can’t find good ones, lop off leggings…or lop off a leggings pattern.

    • That is totally what I did in a panic – cut bike shorts out of old leggings.

      Loose takes some getting used to but man is it comfy!

  • Catherine Daze

    Beautiful! In fact this is a style I’ve been looking for a pattern for lately.

  • This is absolutely gorgeous!! My ideal summer dress. Nailed it

  • Suziesue

    Another pro pattern lobbyer here, you are the sewing voice of a generation!,,,

    • Oh man, awesome compliment but not anxiety inducing AT ALL, hahaha!

  • Katja

    You are such a babe! Absolutely gorgeous dress, looks like something I would totally add to my dream wardrobe, and white linen makes it even better for summer.

    • White linen makes EVERYTHING BETTER!

      • Katja

        Oh so true darling!

  • Elisabeth Vu

    That sounds like a plebiscite and I add my voice. This pattern is perfect, please, draft it for us !

  • Francesca Amodeo

    Heather, this is perfect. and if it wasn’t going to be your next pattern, it should be.

    I so wouldn’t alter the back length – that way you save the back of your legs from contact with yucky public surfaces (the reason my skirts are all knee length or longer!) and still have the cute short length in front – and it makes the dress what it is, anyhow – which is super effing cool, babe.

  • Very chic! I’ll put my name on the list to say release it. I really like the yoke extending into the sleeve.

  • Ann T.

    I can only reiterate what everyone else has said; namely, I LOVE this dress. I want to make it today, and I hope you will offer it for sale, as your very next pattern. However, as I do not want to wait, I hereby volunteer to be a pattern tester for it. I like each and every special detail, which combine synergistically to make one truly sensational, but simple, summer dress.

  • Eva Ward

    Yes, PLEASE, make this a pattern. Just sewed up a Sallie Romper yesterday and am totally in love. Want a whole closet full of CCF creations–including this one!

    • I hear you loud and clear EVE! (So happy you love your romper!)

  • Helene

    Heather, you nailed it! That is the PERFECT summer dress, you look amazing. And sorry, you might not be able to keep it to yourself….

    • Aww, thanks Helene. Seems like I’m on to something here 😉

      • Helene

        You are! You’re straight outta tumblr and I am so jealous! So here’s to peer pressure bullying you into making this pattern, sorry not sorry!

  • Sexy chafe solution! I actually wore like a mid grey bike short for my entire vacation and it totally went well with white 😉

  • Liz

    I have never wanted to make anything as much as I want to make this dress……pretty please make a pattern? For anti-chafing (cuz no matter my weight my thighs rub) – I honestly just slap a lil oil on….have a great ‘dry’ spray oil from Target that was intended for hair and body, and smells fantastic….

    • Honestly, it’s gonna happen 😉

      Oil is such a great idea! I’ve been using baby powder which only works for like 5 minutes.

  • Sarah Timmins

    this is a GORGEOUS make! Great photos too! I bet I’d be chasing you down the streets too. My summer secret is wearing lawn dresses. bike shorts under too !

  • Mia

    Echoing the others: please offer this pattern so we, too, can be chased down the street and given opportunities to humblebrag about our amazing handmade items, too. Hehehe. And since this is the first comment I’ve made on your site, I just want to thank you for the timeless yet modern patterns in a wide range of sizes!

  • Sara A.

    -A morning shower and if I’ve been active outside a lot an, evening shower too. These aren’t necessarily thorough showers; if it smells it gets washed but otherwise it is just to get the sweat off.

    -Baby powder anywhere skin touches skin. Especially under the breasts.

    -Shorts under dresses/skirts may take all the romance out of a summer dress, but keeps you comfortable.

    -On less humid days anti-chaffing stick from the running store is a god-send. It’s also really good when breaking in new shoes.

    -An astringent herbal perfume/cologne. Floral scents can take over and get a life of their own in heat and humidity while also taking on/augmenting BO. Herbal and citrus scents keep close to the skin and keep you feeling fresh. I adore Estee Lauder Azuree for its mix of herbs, citrus, and leather when the weather gets sultry.

  • I want to make this too! Perfect dress for the summer heat. Love the shape of that hem. Everything is fabulous made in linen!

  • Secret summer weapon=Windowbox A/C lol But seriously… Heather, you look so gosh darn cool in this (pun intended), very “Pinteresty” but not in a trashy way, in like a fashion blogger way. LOVE IT 🙂

  • Tyan Walker

    I’ve been living in a very similar linen shirt this summer tied at the waist with a pencil skirt. Fun variation idea! I’ve been wanting a pattern just like this.

  • This is awesome Heather!

  • sallieforrer

    clearly this needs to be a pattern. the masses have spoken. also, the etsy link to the sandals didn’t work and i need to know where they are from. NEED!

    it goes without saying that, like, everything about you in this post is making me rethink my entire wardrobe/sewing/hair/shoe/accessory/life choices.

    • Just fixed the link 😉 Its my current fave sandal maker. The wait was long but worth it – excellent quality and handmade in Greece!

  • Kieran

    I love this so much! Looks like everyone else has already convinced you to make it a pattern, but if you could do so before the southern hemisphere summer hits that would be perfect. Also I love the current length of the back, looks great!!

  • Kay

    I agree with the the pattern request! None of my shirt dresses turn out the way I want and this one is absolutely perfect! *all the heart eye emojis*

  • Meghan

    Gorgeous dress, but also, where did you get the linen? I’m on a linen kick, but most light-colored linen seems to be some degree of see-through.

    • A random place in Montreal… wish I had bought the bolt!

  • Caroline

    1) Re: Chafe-age/chub rub, check out Ultrabalm from Lush–I use it instead of Body Gide and not only do I like it a LOT more (it is zaftig girl runs a marathon tested), it’s a lot better for your skin AND the environment. Win-win!

    2) I need this pattern. I need it as is, because EVERYTHING ABOUT IT IS PERFECT CHANGE NOTHING. And I need it NOW. I will pay you money. I will bake you things. NAME YOUR PRICE, MADAM.

    • 1) I’ll check it out although Lush makes my nose explode.

      2) I’ll expect cookies in the mail shortly 😉

  • Joining the chorus of “YES PLEASE”!! I’d make it in a heartbeat, I swear.

  • Blogless Anna

    I adore this dress. Please please please turn it into a pattern so I can have one in every colour too.

  • oh wow this is just perfect Heather! and yes please, I’ll add to the chorus asking for a pattern! I have always been a bit unsure of shirt dresses with curved hems but maybe I just needed to see an exaggerated one like this as I love it. It looks like you found the perfect fabric for it as well.

  • Shanley Matthews

    Willing to jump on this bandwagon- please make the pattern!!!

  • Samantha Lindgren

    Yeah, just me jumping on the bandwagon…. I would buy this pattern and make dozens in a heartbeat…. And also offering up testing and feedback services….

  • Linda

    Please make a pattern! I’m shopping for my linens right now!!! The fit and style is dead on. You nailed it with this one! Of course, a hat is a must along with strappy sandals.

  • Jillian Tarling

    Please tell me you’re releasing a pattern for this??? I NEED IT

  • Mary Roberts

    Very very attractive and something I think as a venerable senior citizen even I could wear. Now to find that shirt pattern I used a long time ago….

    • Thank you Mary! Shirt dresses work for everyone 😉

  • Jane

    Please please please make this pattern. I am traveling to NYC next Spring and this is just the dress I am looking for. I have yet to find the perfect shirtdress pattern….until I saw this.

  • Joan Mary

    Love your dress! Please make this pattern.

  • Sophie

    Like everyone else said…this is THE BEST. Would be kind of cool with a option for a hidden placket also. Just made one on a simplicity shirt dress and apart from looking really pro and neat, they’re a nice way to ‘skill-up’ for all the intermediate sewists among us. Maybe even an option for a collar less collar version, mandarin collar type thing…beeautiful work x

    • I am plotting and collar less is definitely on the list. A hidden placket is a great idea!

  • I just spent like 10 minutes staring at the details on this, and no surprise one more big fan here. It’s been a long time since I’ve worn a shirt dress, but I love how this polishes up the loose floaty linen look with a bit more tailored style. Would wear!

    • Thanks for the kind feedback Ariane… people REALLY like this pattern!

  • Jennifer Sauer

    Besides adding my vote to the pleasepleasepleaseplease develop the pattern party here, I’ll suggest a summer secret I use for my summer runs, humidity, and inner thighs and all … Ahem. Band-Aid brand Friction Block. Kind of a Chapstick type of substance to reduce the effect of, you know, rubbing. LOL! Works for me.
    Cheers,
    Jennifer in Kansas.

  • VickiKate

    Please, please, please tell me you are going to release this as a pattern because I’m in love!! Seriously, this is just… The length, the hem, the yoke extending into the sleeves! I can’t heart eyes it enough!!

    • I’m working on the draft as we speak 😉

  • Rachel Webb

    I have to echo everyone else here. This dress is beautiful. PLEASE make this pattern available.

  • So glad that you’re making this into a pattern – I’ve bought a lovely light blue linen/cotton blend in anticipation 🙂 Thank you for bowing to the pressure!

  • Yessssss! Love this so much. Been meaning to make a simple fall shirt dress for so long, would love to have a pattern rather than having to hack something. I even have the most perfect lightweight Japanese denim I have been saving for it!

  • Ags

    officially – I am in love with his dress! I have a beautiful linen fabric just waiting to be turn into this dress!

  • Athina Hassioti

    How did I miss THIS post? Thank you for the 2016 year in review post! Wish you a great and inspirational 2017 and looking forward to new patterns including this gorgeous shirt dress! It’s ideal for our hot summers in Greece. Actually, most time of the year is summer over here 🙂

  • Arlene

    The pattern is just perfect for hot weather. I wear an elongated boxer short made from lingerie material. Works as a slip but better for the hot humid weather

  • Jane

    Congratulations on the new website design, it’s great! And I’ve just discovered this blog post I never saw before. Hmm, ever thought of releasing this as a pattern?? It’s fabulous!

  • Leah Franqui

    If you released this as a pattern I would be making it YESTERDAY.

    • Its happening 😉

      • Kathryn

        um. WHAT.
        I was just dreaming about this dress the other day. I have a pile of fabrics ready to crank them out and everything, and I visited this post to examine the lines and start drafting…..and here we are!! Oh, happiness. I cannot wait! 🙂

  • CatherineDupre

    Yesssssssssss