NOTE: Ester shirtdress in Liberty

My first sewing project in almost a year is the Ester shirtdress from Mönsterfabriken. I never intended to stay away from sewing this long, but from experience I know my enthusiasm is cyclic, sometimes over years, and forcing it is useless. In the end, I always come back. This time, it was the new pattern from an old favorite that pulled me in.

During 2020 and the first half of 2021, I made more than 100 garments ranging from simple tees to lined coats. I fell into a routine of planning new projects, sew them up, taking pictures and share them on social media. The routine is fine, but the frequency were not. I needed to slow down. Sometimes, it is easier to step away completely than to reduce comsumption, and this is what I did. I felt relief, which is a clear sign that I needed a break.

Covid made an impact on my life, too, although I never got seriously ill, lost my job or had other serious problems. Compared to many others, I was among the lucky ones. Still, working from my home with little social interaction felt very depressing. It coincided with my youngest daughter going away for studies (leaving behind an emptiness like no other), and myself entering mid-life with unwelcome body changes and a lack of energy I never have experienced before. In hindsight, I think my frantic sewing was a means to fill that emptiness with something else, but mass production of garments could’t replace what I really needed – a new life balance. A side effect of the mass production was a load of garments I hardly ever used. I never gave myself enough time to enjoy my new pieces before I started another one, and it started to bother me.

So, this time around, my ambition is to approach new projects with more consideration to avoid falling back into mass production. First of all, I have a stash to reduce, and as a start, I made a small dent in it by using this lovely Liberty cotton tana lawn for my first project in almost a year – the Ester Shirtdress.

The two views

I think it is rather symbolic that a Mönsterfabriken pattern triggered my sewing interest again. When my last sewing cycle started in 2018, the then new pattern brand probably fuelled my interest more than anything else. A trip with my husband to Stockholm to celebrate our 50th birthdays coincided with the release of Mönsterfabriken’s first patterns, and I returned home to Oslo with Agnes (shirt), Cina (top/blouse), Maja (wide leg trousers) and Sara (chinos) as a start. Since then, I’ve made most of their patterns, so I’m definitely a big fan. The fit is always good, the drafting is professional, and the designs are current, but classic enough to last for years. So, a match between a Mönsterfabriken shirtdress pattern and a Liberty cotton lawn is a no-brainer.

I made no modifications to this pattern, and added the optional interfacing. I am very pleased with the design – the notched collar, the pocked and the hem is both flattering and functional. The fit around the shoulders is really good, too. My favorite part is probably the shaping through the pleat under the neck opening, and the curved back seam. These two features ensure that the dress has a great shape, it is both roomy and semi-fitted at once.

The pattern comes with two views, a shirt and a dress, and there are two differnt hemlines. The dress with the square hemline from the shirt looks great, too – have a look at what Frk. Wiberg and Sewingprunelo did here. Other hacks that come to mind right now are:

  • 3/4 or short sleeves
  • using the pleat from the shirt in the back on the dress
  • contrast fabric on the undercollar and cuffs
  • a winter version in needle cord
  • wider sleeves with an elasticated cuff

Right now, I dream of making an Ester shirt in white crisp cotton or linen, but it will not happen until after the Summer holidays which start next week. First, I will enjoy wearing my new shirtdress during our short, bright and fabulous Scandinavian summer.

Pattern: Ester shirt and dress – Mönsterfabriken
Size: Chest width 92 cm
Fabric: Liberty cotton tana lawn, from my stash
Time: 7-8 hours

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