I was scrolling through Instagram a while back when a Madewell dress popped out at me; it was a simple corduroy shift dress with a V-neckline, patch pockets and a button placket at the side seam that looked a lot like our Charlie Caftan, minus the center panel and gathers. I've been meaning to make a cold-weather version of Charlie for ages, so I quickly started plotting a way to recreate it.
First up was finding the right corduroy. I wanted a beefy wide wale like the Madewell version, and after posting about it on Instagram, it was Club Tissus to the rescue. Club Tissus is a small chain of family-run fabric stores here in Quebec who recently started carrying our patterns. They saw my post and offered to send us a few yards of a lovely caramel cotton corduroy; it was perrrrrfect.
Next up: pattern modifications. To create this clean front, all I had to do was extend the center front line at the V neckline straight down to the hem. To add that cute side seam placket, I also added a 2" wide extension along the front and back side seam, about 9.5" high. Here's what the pattern looked like after modifications:
I also drafted a simple rectangular patch pocket with finished dimensions of 7" x 7.5" Easy peasy.
Looking at these pictures, I wish I had also shaved a bit of width off the shoulder - the fabric is quite stiff so they are sticking out a bit; I would maybe narrow it by 1-2" or so next time. Construction wise, things changed a little. After sewing the center front seam and pressing it open, I attached the facing neckline just like we do in the instructions. However, the placket changed the side seam construction a bit.
Here's what I suggest doing after playing around with this a bit.
- On the front piece, interface the placket. Press up the hem. Fold and press placket so it lines up with the side seam. Fold the raw edge under 1/2" and press. Topstitch in place, sewing in one straight line along the length of the placket. Stitch buttonholes at this time.
- On the back piece, finish the raw edge, press the edge under 1/2" and stitch in place. Fold hem up and over and press in place. If your fabric is lightweight, you may want to extend the placket seam allowance a bit more so you are not sewing the buttons on just one layer of fabric.
- Stitch the side seam, stopping at the placket extension. Finish side seam and top of placket. To do this in one step at the serger, clip down into the seam at the corner of the placket - this will let you open up the right angle seam so it can be serged in one shot.
- To secure front and back placket together, stitch horizontally along the top of the placket, catching both plackets in stitching.
Here's what our guts looked like mid-construction; note the top of the placket isn't finished yet. I wish I would have done this all in one shot like I describe above.
Here's the placket when it's done (the buttons were centered when they were sewn but shifted over once it was on).
The final result is quite cute and cozy. Since I will only wear this layered over tops (a black turtleneck would give major 70's women's studies professor vibes, in a good way), I wonder if I should have dropped the V-neckline a little since it feels a bit too high. Styling it this way I felt a bit like an extra from Moonrise Kingdom in my little beret, although I am seriously feeling my patent pointy-toed oxfords from Will's Vegan Shoes (they sent these to me to review when we were writing our ethical shoe post and I love them - so comfy and a little more feminine than the usual chunky brogue, although they seem to be out of stock now).
Overall I'm happy to have found another way to stay warm with this outfit. Winter is here in FULL FORCE in Montreal and the struggle is real (I have taken to putting a hot water bottle in my bed every night!) We were talking about doing a post on how to stay cozy and look stylish this winter, and I think if we get around to it we'll basically just showing you unconventional layering. This is our life now.
So, what do you think of my Madewell hack? And would you rock a corduroy shift dress like this?