Simplicity 2929 Basic Shirtwaist Dress:Pattern Review

Simplicity 2929

Simplicity 2929 Basic Shirtwaist Dress

I remember shirtdresses from the early 80’s, not altogether fondly, but I am willing to give them another go. I wanted a very simple pattern so I had no distractions as I tried to assess if this design was suitable for my figure.  Normally an unstructured waist is not flattering to my figure but I thought my full waist would be balanced by the extended cap sleeve and the facing flipping back as a collar on Option B.


  • Construction is simple and expeditious.
  • You can choose the sleeveless option if the cap sleeve is too 1983 for your tastes.
  • It can be worn as a summer dress or sewn as a winter jumper meant to have a knit underlayer.
  • As there is no collar or button placket this is a good design for the beginning sewer. 


  • The sleeve cap extends so far that it becomes an unbecoming short kimono sleeve.  See my post Frump Factor: When a Cap Sleeve Extends Too Far.
  • I am 5’5” and I had to shorten the skirt by 6 inches because it hit my ankles. That seemed like too much for a pattern directed at average women.  For the original skirt pattern to hit my midcalf I would have to be over six feet tall.
  • Fabric choice is key or you are going to look like have time-warped from 1983.  In the 80’s this style was often made of a thin knit with large border design on skirt bottom.  The knit would cling to the hips and accentuate their sway.  This could be a good thing, or not.  It’s up to you.  I am not seeing the 80’s color-blocked/border printed thin knits in the stores so you may be limited by how retro you can go. (Actually I did want to use a print for this dress but all of the prints were HUGE, and unsuitable for any dress design I would want to put on my body.)

Simplicity 2929 Practice Muslin: A little blurry. I didn't touch up the photos because frankly I don't know how to correct for blur in Photoshop. I took in the dress at the sides and cut down the neckline and shoulder.

Some Assembly Required:

  • I sewed the two front skirt pieces together at the center seam, put aside and then did the same for the back skirt pieces.
  • Most pattern instructions direct you to the facings at the shoulder making a circle and then attach to the front and back blouse which has been sewn at the shoulder.  Against the usual method  I sewed the back facing to the back blouse and then the front facing to the front blouse.  Be careful to the points at the top of the opening in the neckline are perfectly aligned.
  • I cut the slit into the facing, turned, understitched, and secured by stitching in the ditch at shoulder seam.
  • I sewed the front skirt to the front blouse at the waist, and then did the same for the back.
  • Finally, I finished the dress by sewing up the side seams beginning under the arms going down to the hem.
  • Hem sleeves and skirt.


On the practice muslin I used a blue percale sheet.  The fall dress is of eggplant something or other I found in the sale bin at the now defunct Baer fabrics in Louisville.  I bought material for a second dress of a very lightweight dark denim.  That one is not begun at the time of this post.


Simplicity 2929 Shirtwaist Dress Alterations before Hemming: I Photoshopped this one so you could see the amount of pinning I had to do in order to raise the hemline and decrease the cap sleeve extension. The little yellow dots you see (barely) are my pins.

I used elastic as directed on the practice muslin but found I preferred to leave it out of the fashion garment and just use a belt to gather the waist.

The extended sleeve cap goes too far down the arm.  You might think the extra material would conceal a heavy arm but I thought it bunched unattractively right at my bustline making me look like I was trying to hide my excess weight by wearing oversized dumpy clothes.  I cut the sleeve cap back deeply.

If you want the skirt to be narrower cut the pattern at the shorter option.  Check it in the mirror of course but it will probably hit you where you want.  If you want the fuller skirt take up at the fold lines given.

Will I Sew it Again:

Probably.  Originally when I tried on my practice muslin I thought I could not wear this style, but after being careful to decrease fullness at the waist and pare down the shoulder area I found I liked it.

Advice to Others:

Feel free to cut back the sleeve cap.  When you try on your practice muslin tuck in the sleeve hem until you find the most attractive length for your figure.

Do a fitting before you apply the elastic.  The elastic will add extra bulk at the waist.  You may prefer to use a belt to cinch the waist.  If so you might want to apply belt holders.

Make sure your neckline is even at the opening.  Here is a rough sketch of what I am talking about.  

Overall Style Grade:  B, this is such a basic that you add accessories to it, unless you have cannily used a border print or trim. 

Results Grade: A, it is easy to get a good result from a construction standpoint.

Next Post: Thursday, April 22, 2010: Vogue 1120 DKNY Dress:Pattern Review


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